Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion

A Statement from the Trustees and Director of the Boston Athenaeum

Developed in consultation with the DEAI Committee of the Boston Athenaeum
September 22, 2022

When the Boston Athenaeum was established in 1807, its founders sought to encourage individual discovery and collective discourse by fostering reflection, research, creative endeavors and curiosity. We continue to believe deeply in that mission.

Our founders’ vision of community was limited by social, moral, and economic constructs that countenanced the institution of slavery as well as the denial of rights and opportunities to women, Native Americans, immigrants, and others. Today, we seek a society that respects differences and embraces diversity inclusive of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, religion and other identities or affiliations.

The Boston Athenaeum is committed to being a welcoming institution that embraces change and growth. We work to tell full and complex stories grounded in historical truths, in a safe environment for debate, discussion, and growth. We strive to offer broad access to our collections to support research and education and elicit new perspectives through more expansive participation. Our priorities for this work include:

  • Striving to become a more accessible and more welcoming community.
  • Diversifying our collections to include new creators and new perspectives from groups that have previously been marginalized.
  • Building more diverse audiences, programs, and exhibitions.
  • Cataloging our collections with a focus on acknowledging and rectifying harmful assumptions of the past and present.
  • Increasing the diversity of our staff, membership, and Board of Trustees, to reflect more fully the diversity of our community.
  • Collaborating and partnering with institutions which reflect other vantage points and histories.
  • Measuring and communicating our progress towards these priorities on a regular basis.

It is our belief that achieving these goals will enhance our ability to connect people to ideas; interpret history, the humanities and art; build community within the Athenaeum; and create stronger relationships with the world around us.