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A chat with the Milwaukee Public Museum’s director of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility

Milwaukee Public Museum
Portrait of Rhoan Garnett.

Earlier this year, the Milwaukee Public Museum hired Dr. Rhoan Garnett as its director of inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility.

In this newly created role, Garnett, who has as a doctorate in philosophy, will integrate diversity to the museum’s mission and values so that the future of the museum represents all Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites, past and present.

Garnett shares more about settling into his new home in Milwaukee and how he envisions building an inclusive culture at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Before starting his role at the museum, Garnett worked in higher education supporting students from historically marginalized backgrounds get equitable access to college. He says the position with the museum just sort of made sense — it was an opportunity to step out of the higher education space and bring with him his experiences to inform the human experience.

"My dissertation was very much about how do we create a better sense of belonging, a better environment, a bit of culture in post-secondary institutions, to help students transition better, particularly students of color and students who've often been underrepresented and underserved in the post-secondary space. With that lens coming into the museum space, is just a sort of an exciting next step," he says.

Garnett reflects on his own experience as a first-generation college student. He realized there were challenges that were not necessarily because of his academic abilities, it was not having access to the resources that would create opportunities.

He says his own personal journey is how he got into the field of diversity, equity and inclusion.

Ultimately, Garnett strives to build relationships and bonds with all Milwaukeeans to build an inclusive culture at the Milwaukee Public Museum. "We live in a segregated society. People are going to have different experiences. We have to sit and listen to people and that's where we begin to find understanding."

Mallory Cheng was a Lake Effect producer from 2021 to 2023.
Kobe Brown was WUWM's fifth Eric Von fellow.
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