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Black Lives Matter: A Message from the Executive Director

The Rockwell Museum is far from a moment when we can comfortably say our galleries, collection, interpretation and staff represent and reflect all of the people who walk through our doors—and there is no way we can pretend otherwise.

In the past few years, we have worked to bring difficult and challenging conversations about race, gender, sexuality and equity to our community through exhibitionslectures, programs, experiences and activities. We are not simply the purveyors of these conversations but active participants listening to the voices of artists, scholars, members, volunteers and guestsOur intention is to learn how we can work to address the problems of racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, poverty,  inequitable education, and misunderstanding that persist not only in our culture but in museums as institutions and even within our own organization.

I believe Black lives matter. I also believe the experience of art can be transformative and improve our understanding of not only the diverse multitude of people around us, but ultimately, ourselves. 

In 2018, we adopted the vision statement below with the acknowledgment that as a predominately-white staff and institution, we have a lot of work to do and a long path ahead of us. But, we’re committed to that work, to listening to those who will speak with us, to making that long journey and to being a part of the solution.   

Brian Lee Whisenhunt, Executive Director 

Reshaping Museum Engagement to Connect Americans

A museum that collects, interprets and reflects upon American art encourages visitors to see beyond a singular perspective on national identity. As such an organization, The Rockwell Museum is obligated to support an evolving understanding of the history and evolution of America—to show how the multifaceted nature of experience can be a source for dialogue and conversation; a force for cultural acceptance; and a tool for mutual understanding. 

With its position in Corning, NY, The Rockwell Museum serves a diverse audience of local community members and out-of-town visitors: students and teachers; community members who may not travel outside the region or visit another museum; an Ivy League-educated executive from Corning Incorporated; or a guest from outside our region who visits numerous museums and enjoys cultural experiences wherever they go. Our challenge is to represent the world to the Southern Tier but likewise Corning, NY, to the world.   

Through our growing collection, Smithsonian affiliation, partnerships throughout the region, and relationships with artists and thought leaders, there is no limit to the historical and contemporary stories we can tell. But for those stories to have lasting impact, they must be brought to life and made relevant. In the coming years, The Rockwell Museum will build on its past successes to push the limits of the museum experience and multiply the ways in which art can inspire visitors.   

Three interrelated principals will guide the pursuit of our vision and strategic goals:  

  1. Craft unexpected transformative experiences. Provide a deeply engaging environment–in program, presentation and service that draws guests into their experience and holds their attention in ways they never could have anticipated. 
  2. Ignite curiosity, capture imagination. Guide guests to deeply explore art and the creative process, prompting discovery and creating personal connections.  
  3. Elevate ideas. Bridge disciplines, perspectives, and subjects across the institution to inspire dialogue and engage guests with complex realities.  

The Rockwell Museum will seek to broaden the spectrum of people’s understanding of the idea of America and American art, as well as be a leader in changing the way the visitor experience is conceptualized and manifested. Continuous reinvention and evolution will be required to succeed. The opportunity is limited only by our imagination, creativity and dedication to realizing a shared vision.