Decolonizing the Museum: Roundtable Discussion at Imagining America

On October 20, Museum staff, Dr. Lisa Lee and Mark Jaeschke were joined by activist and journalist, Jamie Kalven and former Chicago Housing Authority Tenant Patrol head, Crystal Palmer to share the Museum's plans for a cultural workforce program that abolishes forms of surveillance and expands the roles of public housing residents in key staff positions in education and visitor services.

The workforce program, which was inspired by the CHA’s Tenant Patrol, looks to reimagine what the traditional security positions in museums across the country look like. The Tenant Patrol emphasized the importance of the public housing community and taking care of its own, as well as personal growth for those who participated in the program. One of the Patrol’s tasks was to complete a “walk-down,” which would include doing maintenance runs of the buildings, checking in on the elderly during times of extreme heat and cold, and reporting crime during the early years of the program.

In the Museum setting, we imagine the workforce as a multifaceted approach that will allow public housing residents to continue the legacy of the Patrol. The Museum’s program will include the “walk-down,” which will attend to the Museum’s basic needs, but also will include work in guest services and as docents and educators.

Click below to scroll through photos from the talk.