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DEAI + T/m

Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion at
The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures

Land Acknowledgment

A land acknowledgment seeks to recognize the land as an expression of gratitude and appreciation to those whose territory we reside on. It is a way of showing awareness of Indigenous presence and land rights in everyday life. We feel it is important to understand the history that has brought us to reside on the land and to seek to understand our place within that history. This calls us to commit to continuing to learn the stories of Indigenous people as well as how to be better stewards of the land that we inhabit with Indigenous communities. 

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures stands on the homelands of Native American peoples at the juncture of the Missouri and Kansas Rivers. In recent years, these nations have included the Delaware, Kansas, Missouria, Otoe, Osage, and Shawnee. We pay our respects to all Indigenous peoples—past, present, and future—for our continuing presence on this land. 

Black Lives Matter

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures stands with Black people everywhere in the fight against structural racism, discrimination, and police brutality. We grieve the killings of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Rayshard Brooks, and countless others from systemic white supremacy and structural racism.

We believe Black lives matter. We are speaking out to acknowledge our accountability and to amplify our dedication to listen, learn, and create dialogue around social change.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Access, and Inclusion

T/m is located on the campus of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, which values diversity as central to its mission as an urban-serving research university and as a driver of excellence in teaching and learning. UMKC and T/m embrace a broad spectrum of diversities, including race, ethnicity, culture, nationality, gender, gender identity, gender expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, linguistic ability, learning style, religion, socioeconomic status, veteran status, life experiences, educational level, and family structure.

We stand in solidarity with historically underserved communities and pledge to fight against structural racism and oppression. We are speaking out to acknowledge our accountability and to amplify our dedication to listen, learn, and create dialogue around social change.

We believe allyship is a verb; therefore, acknowledgment is only T/m’s first step in committing to the work toward racial, economic, and societal equity. We pledge to invest intentional efforts and resources for greater diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion for our community. 

T/m seeks to recognize and respect myriad expressions of the lived experiences of our visitors, staff, and community. With the assistance of institutional resources, such as the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, polices and procedures at the museum and UMKC underscore our commitment to fostering an environment of invigorating multiculturalism, globalism, and diversity and inclusion; specific goals are outlined by Pillar 4 of the UMKC Strategic plan.

Efforts underway at T/m include:

T/m’s DEAI Task Force & AAM Museum Assessment Program

The goal of T/m’s DEAI Task Force is to strengthen the organizational commitment to equity and inclusion and build a more relevant, accessible organization where all voices, people, and experiences are represented equitably. 

In 2021, T/m elected to participate in the Museum Assessment Program to provide a greater awareness and understanding of, and relationship with, the museum’s various communities and audiences, ultimately aligning with T/m’s strategic goal to expand the breadth and scope of audience engagement.

For over a year, the T/m MAP team worked on a self-study workbook and then hosted an onsite visit with an AAM peer reviewer. Our workbook and the onsite visit culminated in a report that was shared with us in March of 2022. T/m staff is now acting on the reports with the newly formed Learning and Engagement Committee, created from the original MAP team with the addition of other community, board, and staff members.

Collection Expansion

T/m’s collection is substantial, but it still only represents a portion of the human experience through art and play. The Collections Committee of the Board of Directors and museum staff are actively searching to widen the narrative T/m presents in its galleries. T/m values toys that were loved. We collect stories to help connect the toys to the real humans who played with them and share those connections with the public. T/m staff is prioritizing efforts to have the museum reflect the broader Kansas City community by collecting stories of children from traditionally underserved communities, and by acquiring works by artists of color. If you would like to have an object considered for collection donation, please contact the curatorial team between November 1-April 30 annually.

Enhanced Interpretation 

The objects in the T/m collection are intrinsically valuable, but we also believe in the unique power of interpretation. Interpretation, in a museum or historic site context, is a process of revealing connections, and it goes beyond merely providing information about something.  Toys in particular both represent and reiterate cultural expectations around identity including race, gender, class, and ability. T/m aims to enhance understanding of socially constructed disparities by providing a fuller context to many objects in the collection.

T/m believes language has the power to shape reality and we are undergoing a process to review our current label copy to reflect on methods to reduce the harm from historic terminology to marginalized communities. Additionally, we are expanding the use of learning vehicles in digital, web-based, and tactile forms to increase access to T/m’s collection.

Join the conversation at T/m

The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures is home to a collection of objects that have the unique ability to convey and reflect societal values. T/m staff is actively seeking to widen the collection to represent a more holistic picture of how toys reflect our history and the art of fine-scale miniatures . T/m does not believe a museum is the single source of truth but rather a place for a dialogue in which all are welcome to participate. Add your voice to the conversation by reaching out to the T/m team as part of this endeavor.

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