Nearly a year after issuing a plan to address a furore over shortcomings on racial equity, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation in New York announced the appointment of Ty Woodfolk as its first chief culture and inclusion officer today. A wave of such hires has followed soul-searching in the museum world about institutional failures to embrace racial justice in hiring, exhibitions and acquisitions.
Since January 2020, Woodfolk has been director of human resources, diversity and inclusion at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater, which has recently sought to rectify the underrepresentation of African Americans in its hiring and casting practices. The Guggenheim says that he will also hold the rank of deputy director and oversee steps to implement the museum’s diversity plan, which was adopted last August after staff-led protests over “systemic racism” at the institution. The document cited a need to aggressively recruit a more diverse workforce and board of directors, champion works by long-overlooked artists of colour and attract a broader range of visitors to a museum whose audience was at that time 73% white.
The Guggenheim also announced the appointment of Trish Jeffers as deputy director, human resources, a post in which she will oversee recruitment, compensation, benefits and employee relations. Jeffers previously served as interim director of human resources at the Guggenheim and human resources director at the Museum of Modern Art. Both Jeffers and Woodfolk will assume their roles on 7 September.
“The creation of a head of culture and inclusion in tandem with naming a deputy director of human resources marks a positive shift in our leadership structure,” Richard Armstrong, the director of the Guggenheim Museum and Foundation, said in a statement. “The partnership between these two critical areas will guide us toward reshaping our workplace culture and creating an institution that’s welcoming to all.”