Seattle museum closes as staffers walk out over controversial language in anti-hate exhibit

[Source]

An exhibit that aimed to confront hate against minority communities led to the temporary closure of Seattle's Wing Luke Museum after pro-Palestine staffers walked out over concerns with the program's language.

Key points:

  • More than 20 staffers participated in the walkout on May 22 after the museum opened its “Confronting Hate Together” exhibit.

  • The employees demanded revisions to a part of the exhibit’s language that allegedly associated Palestinian liberation and anti-Zionism with antisemitism.

  • The museum has vowed to engage in a dialogue with the staffers and reopen its doors "at a future date."

The details:

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  • “Confronting Hate Together,” co-produced by the museum, the Black Heritage Society of Washington State and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society, aims to shine a spotlight on antisemitism, bigotry and racism that foster division and hatred within minority communities.

  • The protesters, comprising nearly half of the museum’s staff, announced their actions in a dedicated Instagram page. Of the group, 18 are front-of-house, public-facing workers, while 10 are part-time, non-benefited staff.

  • The group reportedly raised their concerns to the museum's leadership after seeing "Zionist language" in a media preview of the exhibit on May 14. The original text read in part:

“Today, antisemitism is often disguised as anti-Zionism, with Jews everywhere expected to defend the actions of Israel’s right-wing government. Examples of this locally can be seen in the wake of Hamas’ horrific terrorist attack on Israel on Oct. 7, 2023.”

  • While the museum had applied revisions to the panel, the group said “the edits made still conveyed Zionist perspectives.”

  • Wing Luke Museum addressed the walkout in a Facebook post on Saturday, stating that it acknowledges and supports the rights of staff members to express their beliefs and personal truths. The museum said it closed "to listen and earnestly engage in dialog with our staff."

  • The staffers started a GoFundMe page to raise funds for lost wages amid the walkout. As of this writing, the campaign has raised $4,619.

Reactions:

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  • The walkout has drawn mixed reactions. One Facebook user commented: “Why does one opinion get to dictate to everyone else what is OK or not ok? It seems to me that those walking out are showing why we need more exhibits like this, and more education in general. It's fine to disagree and have dialog, but to state your demands as if they are facts for the rest of us to accept goes to far.”

  • “Please also end all partnerships with the ADL including Kendall Kosai and instead start figuring out how to repair the relationships you’ve trashed with Palestinian community and listen to voices supporting liberation,” another pleaded.

 

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