Speak Out, Open Discussions, and My America Tours on Inauguration Day
Feb 15, 2017

Speak Out in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater

Speak Out in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater, January, 2017. Photograph by Andrew Kist

On Friday, January 20, Inauguration Day, the Education Department welcomed visitors on a pay-what-you-wish basis. Throughout the day, the Whitney offered special programs to affirm our commitment to open dialogue, civic engagement, and the diversity of American art and culture.  

The day began with a “Speak Out on Inauguration Day” in the Susan and John Hess Family Theater convened by the arts collective Occupy Museums. The group, whose work will be in the upcoming Whitney Biennial 2017 exhibition, invited artists and activists to “affirm their values in response to the current political climate.” Over thirty members of the arts community spoke, including Simone Leigh and Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter, Martha Rosler, Dread Scott, as well as activists Alicia Boyd and the anti-gentrification group Chinatown Art Brigade.

Open Discussion in the Hearst Artspace

Open Discussion in the Hearst Artspace, January, 2017. Photograph by Andrew Kist

In the afternoon, the Museum offered three Open Discussions on the topics of immigration, race and ethnicity, and inclusive democracy. Each of these talks was facilitated by an artist or theorist and a Whitney staff member. Visitors shared their experiences of immigration, discussed ways to acknowledge and resist racism, and talked about the importance of participation in political process and protest.

Teaching Fellow Erica Cooke leads My America tour

Teaching Fellow Erica Cooke leads “My America” tour, January, 2017. Photograph by Andrew Kist

Also at the Museum throughout the day, visitors explored immigration, race, ethnicity, and the complexities of American identity through a series of “My America” tours of the Whitney’s permanent collection led by Teaching Fellows Erica Cooke and Meredith Mowder.

By Emma Quaytman, Assistant to Interpretation and Public Programs