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What role do civic institutions play in preserving cultural memory?



What role do civic institutions play in preserving cultural memory?

This is the question I’ve been sitting with for a while.

Today, we had the chance to visit the DIA.

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It holds an impressive collection of art from different time periods and from a plurality of American artists.

I think this attempt at inclusivity should be celebrated.

Museums and art centers serve as vehicles to record and re-member the narratives, stories and events that have contributed to the material circumstances of today.

In chronicling histories, these institutions have the potential to determine and frame the conversations had in the public sphere.

This is both an awesome responsibility and a beautiful burden.

We should ask: in a political environment where the basic humanity of some is challenged and debased, what is the responsibility of these institutions in deepening the public consciousness about the tragedies committed in the name of American democracy?

We should ask: if these institutions have the sacred role of preserving cultural memory, by what criteria does the public determine they are doing just that? What do truly decolonial institutions — spaces that do not privilege certain narratives over others — look like?

These are just some of the questions the day raised for me.

I truly appreciate the actors involved with civic institutions in Detroit sharing their precious time with us and the work they are doing to live into the questions raised above.

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