Museums as Systems 2023 | Resources for Reimagination: Day Two

Jun 21, 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. 



III. For Future Generations, 5:30–6:45 pm EDT 

This panel focuses on “extractivism” as it pertains to belongings from the Global South and the African continent that were stolen from their origins. How can agency be given back to populations who were stripped, denied, or erased from their cultural identity and/or possessions? How are we tapping into ancestral resistance as a way to upend oppressive structures? What role does Black joy play in breaking cycles of trauma?  

Moderator: Andrea “Philly” Walls 

Panelists: Diana Ferrus with Vashti DuBois 

IV. The Question of Love and Community Care​, 7:00–8:15 pm EDT 

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. How might museums embody an ethic of love and care, beyond short-term programmatic engagements? What is a museum’s institutional responsibility to heal communities, particularly those under the constant violence of racial capitalism and anti-blackness? What does an intentionally compassionate future for museums look like? 

Moderator: Maya Whites 

Panelists: Desmond Beach, Suhaly Bautista-Carolina, and Kamra Sadia Hakim 


Andrea “Philly” Walls is a conceptual artist with an interdisciplinary practice, informed and inspired by the writers and visual artists of the Harlem Renaissance and Black Arts Movement. She is among the first cohort of fellows distinguished as Philadelphia Cultural Treasures. She is pleased that her writing, scholarship, and visual art have been supported by organizations she admires, including the Leeway Foundation; Black Public Media/MIT Open Documentary Lab; VONA/Voices Workshops for Writers of Color; the Puffin Foundation; Hedgebrook Residencies for Women Authoring Change; the Colored Girls Museum; Writers Room at Drexel University; The Studio Museum of Harlem; the Women’s Mobile Museum; Barnes Museum West; and Shea Moisture/Good Mirrors Emerging Visionary Fund. In addition to founding and curating the multiplatform Museum of Black Joy, she is the creator and curator of The D’, author of the poetry chapbook Ultraviolet Catastrophe (Thread Makes Blanket Press), and the digital web collection The Black Body Curve. She lives and creates in Philadelphia.  

Vashti Dubois, founder and Executive Director of the Colored Girls Museum in Philadelphia, is a social practice artist, creative scholar, and institution-builder. After a thirty-year career in the nonprofit sector DuBois founded the Colored Girls Museum (TCGM), a grassroots, “place-based,” living museum whose focus is Black girlhood. The museum honors and memorializes the experiences of women and girls of the African Diaspora. The first of its kind, this museum initiates the object—submitted by the Colored Girl herself—as representative of an aspect of her story and personal history, which she finds meaningful. The museum is equal parts sanctuary, research facility, exhibition space, gathering place, and think tank. In addition to her induction as a 2022 honoree at the Germantown Hall of Fame, DuBois was a 2022 Fellow at Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts. In December of 2022, DuBois was named a Philadelphia Cultural Treasures Fellow. DuBois is a graduate of Wesleyan University. When she is not working in the museum, she is writing her book about the making of The Colored Girls Museum. DuBois is a proud parent of three adult children and two grandchildren.  

Diana Ferrus is a writer, poet, performance poet, and storyteller. She worked for twenty-five years at the University of the Western Cape, Cape Town. She retired in 2016. She has completed a postgraduate degree in Women's and Gender Studies at the University of the Western Cape. In 2012, Ferrus received the inaugural Mbokodo Award for poetry. In April 2022, Diana received an honorary doctorate from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. Diana is internationally known and acclaimed for the poem that she wrote for Sarah Baartman who was paraded as a sexual freak in Europe. The French senators upon hearing the poem, "I’ve come to take you home," voted unanimously that her remains should come home. This poem was published into a French law, a first in French history. Diana's work has had and still has a bearing and influence on matters of race, sex, and reconciliation. 

Maya Whites is a creative, researcher, and organizer whose practice centers around community care and healing. Whites is a current architecture student at Columbia University with an intended thematic unit in Black Feminism. In the spring of 2023, Whites was Storefront for Art and Architecture’s inaugural Gallery and Community Engagement Fellow. Whites is now spending the summer working at the Ford Foundation. 

Kamra Sadia Hakim is a Black American transgender person hailing from O'odham Jeweḍ land, resourced by Munsee Lenape land, so-called Bethel, New York (Hebrew translation: “house of God”) situated in and near Kauneonga Lake (apocryphal Munsee translation: “like the wings of a bird”). Hakim has a graduate degree from New York University Center for Global Affairs School of Professional Studies. Hakim is the author of Care Manual: Dreaming Care into Being, the musician behind Kamra, and founder of the Activation Residency. Hakim thinks, feels, and performs to story-make garden futures, and participates in a lineage of care, weaving themes of remembering how to talk to each other with respect, reverence, beauty, and skill through writing, performance, and permaculture design.  

Suhaly Bautista-Carolina (she/they/we/us) is an Afro Dominican herbalist, artist, cultural worker, and community organizer whose work lives intentionally at the intersection of plant power and people power. Before joining the American LGBTQ+ Museum as Director of Public Programs and Partnerships in 2023, Bautista-Carolina served as Senior Managing Educator of Audience Development and Engagement at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where she led MetFest! and the Civic Practice Partnership Artist in Residence program. Bautista-Carolina is a 2021 Women in Power Fellow, an executive board member of ArtTable and Weeksville Heritage Center, and has worked in various capacities with organizations including the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI), Brooklyn Museum, the Laundromat Project, and Creative Time. Through her practice, Moon Mother Apothecary, Bautista-Carolina centers care, collective wisdom, and ancestral legacy, while creating spaces of agency to facilitate healing. She is based in her native home of New York City, (Lenapehoking) where she lives with her wife and their baby girl, Luna. 

Desmond Beach is a New York City–based artist and educator who explores race, identity, and social justice themes in his artistic practice. Through his work, Beach aims to transform the tragedies of the transatlantic slave trade and the Jim Crow South into a celebration of a full Black life. Beach has an extensive background in teaching and has served as a visiting lecturer/artist at various institutions, including Coppin State University, Emerson College, Morgan State University, and College of the Atlantic. He has also been a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and Skidmore College, among others. 
His educational background includes an MFA from the Rinehart School of Sculpture at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where he also earned his BFA. Currently, Beach is a PhD candidate in Creative Practice at the University of Plymouth in England. Beach's artwork spans various disciplines and is rooted in the experiences of Black people and those of African heritage in the United States. He draws inspiration from African storytelling traditions and aims to honor his immediate ancestors, as well as those of the African Diaspora. Performance art plays a crucial role in Beach's work, as he creates spaces where the spirits of the ancestors can find rest. His work has been exhibited at institutions such as the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC; the Contemporary in Baltimore, Maryland; and the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York.

Day One

Museums as Systems: Resources Day One

Museums as Systems: Resources Day One

DEV 101: Thinking Outside the Bag

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. 

Access and Accessibility as an Act(ion) of Radical Hospitality

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. 

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.