Reading the stories in this issue, I found myself thinking about the lively dialogue that exists between our museums and the world around them.
Consider Powdermill Nature Reserve’s Window Strike Project, which our avian scientists are conducting in cooperation with the American Bird Conservancy and local partners such as BirdSafe Pittsburgh. Much more than a nature reserve, Powdermill is also an active site for education and research. One of the most compelling projects currently underway studies bird behavior as it relates to treatments for windows in the hope of reducing the staggering number of birds lost each year to window strikes. This is scientific research with immediate application to an issue of environmental concern—and an important extension of the renowned bird-banding program that has long brought distinction to Powdermill.
By presenting She Who Tells a Story: Women Photographers from Iran and the Arab World, Carnegie Museum of Art is inviting visitors to gain a new perspective on another part of our world. In this traveling exhibition, pioneering work by 12 image makers addresses issues of war, gender, identity, and narrative. Their work is strikingly personal and would be of great interest in any historical context. At a moment when news from the Middle East raises daily questions about democracy, modernity, and civil society, the images assume special resonance and power.
Sometimes, as museum visitors, we want nothing more than to retreat to the galleries to escape the pressures of currency and immediacy—to take our time in the presence of artifacts and art, to contemplate ideas that remove us from the limits of the now, to take the longer and broader view. But we also want the experiences we have in museums to tell us something meaningful about the world that awaits us at the end of the visit, when we go back out into the everyday. That opportunity to step aside, learn something new, reflect, think—and then to leave the museum refreshed, refocused, and re-engaged—may be the most important thing we offer our visitors.
The profile of Carnegie Museums’ new diversity catalyst, Cecile Shellman, offers insight into what we are doing under Cecile’s leadership to ensure that everyone can take us up on that offer. Our commitment is to making sure that we’re identifying and addressing barriers that might prevent a visitor from fully experiencing our museums, and strengthening our relationship with the community by creating a more welcoming environment for all.
I’d be remiss not to add that all of this—the research, the exhibits, the visitor experience—is possible only because of the support of our members and donors. It’s always a special privilege to recognize our donors and volunteer leaders each year. In this issue you’ll find a special section highlighting the many contributions of some of our leading supporters.
Jo Ellen Parker
President & CEO
Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh