Listening to Wahida

I hear Wahida say that there could have been more, the museum could have done more. There is frustration in what she writes. There was a momentum, and it could have gone further. I wish she would have said more about the staff diversity. It is of course undeniable that we are not a diverse organisation. Was it the physical lack she experienced at the staff away day or also in what was said by people? Probably both. She uses the word ‘urgent’ and ‘necessary’ and I think that needs to be heard. In the context of Black Lives Matter and other movements there is even more weight to this.  

I had Pakeezah’s piece in my mind reading this. Both make me impatient for action. And I know that staff diversity is such a complex thing to try and tackle. I can see how we need to own and celebrate even the tiniest steps forward we make, but I can equally see the gaping chasm of how far we need to go.  

I think there is more that is unsaid here. Wahida writes ‘I am always hopeful’, she could have been much more critical. She is trying to be really positive, but maybe we need some negativity to shock us more into action. Which is why Pakeezah’s letter had more impact for me, her message to us was not gilded in any way.

Megan Thomas, Group Head of Special Projects


Wahida Shaffi's moment

My relationship with the museum extends over three decades as a visitor, occasional collaborator and critical friend. In 2019 I...