Museum IDEA Commitments & Action Plan

The mission of The San Diego Museum of Art is to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity through great works of art.

The Museum is dedicated to creating a welcoming, inclusive environment that celebrates and honors San Diego’s diverse community while furthering Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) initiatives to better serve and welcome its diverse staff and visitors.

The San Diego Museum of Art Board, leadership, and staff are committed to furthering meaningful change and increasing human connection through art. The work continues internally to ensure exhibitions, programming, and dialogue embrace IDEA and that IDEA principles are incorporated into the foundation of the Museum’s five-year strategic plan, which is currently in development.

The commitment to pursuing IDEA initiatives includes but is not limited to the following actions, which have either already been taken or are in progress:

Defining IDEA

  • Collaborate with the Balboa Park IDEA working group to define IDEA and establish a benchmark of IDEA work needed as part of the larger Balboa Park and museum community, including the development of a land acknowledgment statement and determining guidelines for usage


  • Senior management participation in diversity and inclusion training
  • Engage professional consultants to establish workshops with staff to ensure a culture of empathy and set a blueprint for how we can better listen to one another and increase opportunities for dialogue
  • Participate in conferences and seminars on using inclusive language in Museum publications, wall texts, and labels, and implement new and improved practices as a result
  • Participate in conferences on using descriptive text in digital resources for individuals with visual impairment and work with professionals to activate this initiative
  • Conduct an audit of language used online and in outreach communications
  • Increase the number of languages offered by docent tours beyond the five currently available
  • Continue to expand the selection of gifts, books, jewelry, and other merchandise that include diverse artists, vendors, and cultures


  • Staff participation in diversity and cultural/historical sensitivity training workshops
  • Conduct an audit of images used on the Museum website and app
  • Implement an equity algorithm—a system through which artworks featured on the Museum app are paired with five suggested artists, cultures, and/or key objects representing a wide spectrum of diversity in race, gender identification, sexual orientation, culture, time/context, and media
  • Update exhibitions and installations to represent the diversity and cultural complexity of artistic expression, such as the recent reinstallation of the Art of the Americas galleries to include the northern and southern hemisphere, and with recent gifts and long-term loans of works by modern and contemporary Black and Indigenous artists, and major upcoming exhibitions addressing these relevant issues. Examples of current or upcoming exhibitions and installations include:
    • Justin Sterling (2022)—whose Chapel of the Rocks speaks to issues concerning racial profiling, urban decay, and spirituality
    • Sergio Hernández: Embers of Oaxaca (2022)—the first solo museum exhibition in the US by the artist whose work often reflects his own Indigenous heritage, and that of his native region of Oaxaca, including the Zapotec and Mixtec cultures of Mesoamerica
    • Wonders of Creation: Art, Science, and Innovation in the Islamic World (2024)—an exhibition on the intersections between art and science in the Islamic World and the first major exhibition on Islamic visual culture in San Diego 
    • My Lines Speak of Destinies (2026)—which will explore cultural memory in the work of up to 10 South Asian and South Asian diaspora artists identifying as female
  • Ensure a diverse range of acquisitions, such as a recent gift of Chinese contemporary photography and the bequest of African art resource material
  • Establish an advisory committee for the acquisition of work by Black artists and artists of the African Diaspora


  • Integrate diversity and inclusion strategies in recruitment
  • Initiate shadow program to encourage cross-department skill sharing and mentoring
  • Increase opportunities for staff at all levels to attend lectures and programs and pursue professional development
  • Launch staff quarterly e-newsletter based on staff survey responses


  • Update accessibility webpage
  • Add audio descriptions and closed captioning to Museum videos
  • Integrate live ASL interpretation by request and to support high-profile lectures
  • Create and provide sensory packets for Museum visitors with autism and/or sensory processing sensitivities
  • Provide noise-cancelling headphones by request
  • Redesign and rewrite all gallery labels to increase font size

The Museum is dedicated to an open conversation among its staff and community. Updates regarding the Museum’s IDEA efforts will be posted periodically to share with the community both short-term steps and long-term initiatives that will continue to enhance diversity within the institution and extend its embrace to a wider audience.

The Museum is committed to consistently evaluating its policies and culture. Feedback and ideas to further inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility at the Museum are welcome. Please send comments to All feedback will be reviewed by Museum leadership and across departments.

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