Day: November 2, 2021

Changes to the Art Institute of Chicago’s docent program are sparking debate over racial equity and culture

A bicyclist stands in front of the entrance to the Art Institute of Chicago, staring at one of the statues of the famous Llons.

The Art Institute of Chicago is getting backlash for changing its docent program. Jonathan Daniel /Getty Images

  • The Art Institute of Chicago is getting backlash for changing its docent program.

  • Conservative critics say the change is giving into ‘woke’ culture and harming mostly white docents.

  • Yet museum studies experts say paying docents, as the museum plans to do, makes the field equitable.

The Art Institute of Chicago is getting backlash for what conservative critics are saying is giving into ‘woke’ culture. But changing its docent program could make museums more equitable for people of color.

At the heart of the controversy is its planned switch from a volunteer docent program to a “hybrid model that pairs paid educators and volunteers,” leading critics to accuse the institution of disenfranchising the mostly white volunteers who’ve been working at the museum for years.

Headlines like, “White volunteers at Art Institute are FIRED after

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