Museums: Race, Diversity & Institutional Change

Museums: Race, Diversity & Institutional Change


Event Flyer

Friday, Nov. 4, 2016
5:30-7:00 p.m.
Kana‘ina Building, ‘Iolani Palace Grounds  map

What is structural racism? How does it prevent us from achieving true diversity among our staff, boards, and audiences, and in our programs?

This panel discussion is inspired by programs at previous museum conferences. At the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual meeting in 2015, the response was overwhelming to a session about the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. It eventually led to a regional discussion about related topics at the Western Museum Association (WMA) conference last month.

To continue the national momentum, please join us on November 4, 2016, at 5:30 p.m., to hear perspectives on structural racism and diversity from three museum professionals. Noelle M.K.Y. Kahanu will report on her participation on the WMA panel, Museums & Race 2016, and share her observations from working in the local museum community; Kathy Suter will draw on her experiences at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and ideas about how the Hawai‘i Museums Association and its members may facilitate the dialogue on change; and Kippen de Alba Chu will describe efforts by AAM to provide guidance to museums for implementing structural changes. Audience participation is welcomed!

Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu
Assistant Specialist, Public Humanities/Native Hawaiian Programs,
Department of American Studies, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
As a Native Hawaiian writer/poet/artist/scholar with 15 years of program and exhibition experience at the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum, Noelle remains active in the Native Hawaiian visual arts community as an artist, curator, and arts organizer. She is deeply interested in how issues of privilege and racism persist, even when diversity is seemingly achieved.

Kathy Suter
President, Hawaiʻi Museums Association
Kathy Suter retired from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in 2012 after 12 years of designing and producing exhibit media. She is now the President of the Hawaiʻi Museums Association and lives on the Big Island.

Kippen de Alba Chu
Executive Director, ʻIolani Palace
Kippen has been with ʻIolani Palace for 10 years. He currently serves on the board of directors for the American Alliance of Museums, Friends of Hawaiʻi Robotics, Hawaiʻi Alliance of Nonprofit Organizations, and is the immediate past president of the Western Museums Association.

Karen K. Kosasa 
Director, Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program
Associate Professor, Department of American Studies,
University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

Click here for information and resources about this program.


Karen Kosasa delivers introductions. (L to R) Kippen de Alba Chu, Noelle M. K. Y. Kahanu, and Kathy Suter.


Kippen de Alba Chu speaking to a packed audience.