Museums as Systems 2023 | Resources for Reimagination: Day One

Jun 20, 2023


The two-day, annual Museums as Systems symposium gathers together arts workers to discuss alternative approaches to museum structures. The 2023 convening asks the question: what “resources" are necessary to reimagine the systems of museums? 

This symposium explores “resources” through four key themes: love and care, creative fundraising, reclamation, and radical hospitality. Over four sessions, “Museums as Systems: Resources for Reimagination” seeks to explore these concepts with the following questions: What do we have? What do we need? How do we get it? What are we willing to risk? to give up? What are the barriers to broadening access and how can we overcome them? What are alternative solutions to acquiring the resources we need? 

This program is free and open to all. ASL interpretation and closed captioning will be provided. 



I. DEV 101: Thinking Outside the Bag, 5:30–6:45 pm EDT 

This panel aims to spotlight how, through creative ingenuity, development departments play integral roles in ensuring the survival of institutions, art, and artists, at every level. “DEV 101: Thinking Outside the Bag” considers these questions: How can fundraising and development work build stronger ties with local communities? What are the skills necessary to do this work? How do we develop multiple entry points for people to become supporters and donors of institutions, while also acknowledging how integral people are to an institution's survival? In what ways should one approach development with imagination and creativity? 

Moderator: McKenzie Grant-Gordon 

Panelists: Lisa Dent with Alayah Glenn 

II. Access and Accessibility as an Act(ion) of Radical Hospitality, 7:00–8:15 pm EDT 

This panel offers the perspectives and tactics of art workers and artists who are willing to go beyond tokenizing accessibility and who instead promote a rich, expansive form of equity. “Access and Accessibility as an Act(ion) of Radical Hospitality” asks: How can we increase access to institutions? Where can we be more open via spatial/physical, programmatic, or design considerations? Can institutions think expansively about how people engage with their virtual and in-person spaces? 

Moderator: isa saldaña 

Panelists: Joselia Rebekah Hughes with Madison Smith


McKenzie Grant-Gordon is a Jamaican American visual artist based in New York. She currently works at the Studio Museum as a Membership and Annual Giving Associate. Born and raised in Maryland, McKenzie is a passionate and driven artist whose practice is rooted in liberation and love. Her work explores a sense of nostalgia infused with fantasies of the future by speaking to notions of heritage, community, and transformation. She hopes her imagery cultivates space for herself and others to be reflected, respected, and empowered for generations to come. 

Alayah Glenn is a multi-hyphenate strategist and philanthropist who builds communities and capacity for visionary social impact with substance, strategy, and style. 

Glenn’s career began at Equal Justice Initiative, where she supported community research and donor engagement that led to the National Memorial on Peace and Justice. Building on that foundation, she would grow to lead high-impact fundraising and development initiatives like the Donors of Color Network, the Center for Economic Empowerment and Opportunity, and Project Liberty, also founding the Rushing River Giving Circle in 2020 to support community healing and strategic political transformation in the United States South. As Senior Development Officer at the Museum of Modern Art, Glenn now stewards and serves the Black Arts Council, a community dedicated to the visibility, access, and appreciation of art from the African Diaspora at MoMA and beyond. 

Glenn is an alumna of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, happily based in Harlem. 

Lisa Dent is an advocate for living artists and cultural workers. Her background includes work in film, theater, and the visual arts as a curator, gallerist, writer, production designer, and creative producer. Dent is currently the Director of Public Programs at Mass MoCA. Most recently, Dent was the Executive Director of Artspace New Haven, and the Director of Resources & Award Programs at Creative Capital (2012–17), where she led the financial and advisory services programs and advised artists toward the full realization of their projects. Prior to joining Creative Capital, Dent was Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the Columbus Museum of Art, where she organized exhibitions including Stephanie Syjuco: Pattern Migration, Currents: Latifa Echakhch, and Supply & Demand. Dent was a Helena Rubenstein Fellow at the Museum of Modern Art and held curatorial staff positions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art. From 2004 to 08, Dent owned Lisa Dent Gallery in San Francisco, where she presented the work of emerging and mid-career international artists. Dent received her BFA from Howard University, her MFA from NYU, and completed the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in Curatorial Studies. 

isa saldaña is a Black and Asian care partner and arts worker who gathers people over writing, exhibitions, performances, and meals to manifest and support ways of living otherwise. In their personal and artistic practice, saldaña uses performance, immersive installation, poetry, and culinary design as entry points for understanding and further researching histories of intimacy, labor, and social ecologies. Their current projects are focused on expanding pleasurable and meaningful food access for queer, trans, and disabled folks in the diaspora.  
As Senior Manager of Artist & Community Development at the Laundromat Project, saldaña also serves as a thought partner, resource, and guide for their artists in residence, fellows, community members, and the neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant. 

Joselia Rebekah Hughes is a Mad and chronically ill Afro Caribbean writer, access worker, artist, and educator based in the Bronx. She lives with sickle cell disease. She is a poetry editor at Apogee Journal. Hughes’s work interrogates debility, (de)capacitation, play, experiences of pain, and linguistics of access. She uses wordplay, oral traditions, and the archetype of the fool as measures to question and provoke societal perceptions and values regarding chronic illness, madness, neurodivergence, and debility. Her practicing mediums include video and photography, dance, literature, small sculpture, fiber work, drawing, zine-making, and drawing and painting. She’s shared work at the Institute of Contemporary Art: VCU, Richmond, Virginia; Participant Inc., New York; Lincoln Center, New York; MoMA, New York; Leslie Lohman Museum, New York; Bard College, Swarthmore College, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and elsewhere. Hughes’s poetry has been nominated for “Best of the Net” and has been published in Apogee Journal, The Massachusetts Review, The Poetry Project, Split This Rock, BlackFlash Magazine, and elsewhere. 

Madison Smith is a Brooklyn-based art historian, poet, and programmer exploring ideas of intimacy, autobiography, and collective care. Since 2017, she has shaped spaces that support the creativity and interpersonal transformation of Black queer and trans people. Smith has managed a diverse range of programs in partnership with organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago; the Chicago Architecture Center; Evanston Art Center; Field Museum; Hyde Park Art Center; LATITUDE | Chicago; Links Hall; and the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. As a Programs Assistant at the Studio Museum, she supports the educational initiatives of the Department of Learning and Engagement. Smith is currently a cofounder of Monarch Art and Wellness, a collaborative project bridging the gaps between art and wellness.  

Day Two

Museums as Systems: Resources Day Two

Museums as Systems: Resources Day Two

For Future Generations

This panel focuses on “extractivism” as it pertains to belongings from the Global South and the African continent that were stolen from their origins. 

The Question of Love and Community Care

Inspired by bell hooks’s book Salvation: Black People and Love, this panel will consider the possibilities of museums caring for their communities to the same degree as their objects. 

Museums as Systems is generously funded by a grant from the Llewellyn Family Foundation. The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Learning and Engagement programs are supported by the Thompson Foundation Education Fund; William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust; Con Edison; Harlem Community Development Corporation; May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation; and Joseph and Joan Cullman Foundation for the Arts. Additional support provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and New York State Council on the Arts.