PITTOCK MANSION SOCIETY’S COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY, EQUITY, ACCESS AND INCLUSION (DEAI)
Pittock Mansion is an iconic, historic landmark that tells the story of Portland’s evolution through a significant period in American history. Today it represents a unique public-private partnership between the City of Portland Parks and Recreation, who owns and maintains the historic structures and grounds, and Pittock Mansion Society, a private non-profit organization that operates the buildings as a historic house museum and educational institution.
Pittock Mansion itself is a symbol of resilience, having suffered the challenge of near demolition in the late 1900s. It was saved by a group of dedicated citizens working with the City of Portland. Now, having emerged from the recent challenges of citywide racial unrest and the coronavirus pandemic, the museum continues its commitment to inspire current and future generations to learn from stories of human endeavors, including successes and failures, and shape a better tomorrow.
Pittock Mansion Society’s primary goal is to be a relevant history museum by recognizing the continuing shift in our socio-economic and cultural landscapes and addressing the inevitable tensions that come from our assumptions. We strive to embrace and advance Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) in our philosophy and practices.
To that effect, Pittock Mansion Society has initiated the following action steps in its unwavering and continuing institutional commitment to DEAI:
Adapting to the Shifting Landscape
In 2020, the Pittock Mansion Board and staff leadership created a Department of Interpretation and Community Engagement. The department aims to proactively engage with historically marginalized communities to share their (as well as our) untold stories. This strategy allows the organization to share stories of Portland that complicate and shift the dominant historical narrative away from the contributions of people with wealth and power. In doing so, our rotating exhibitions broaden our audiences’ understanding of Portland’s past.
We have since developed exhibitions in collaboration with partner organizations. These include Vanport: A Surge of Social Change, developed in collaboration with Vanport Mosaic; The Thrill of the Climb, developed in collaboration with the Mazamas; and Black in Oregon, 1840-1870, on loan from the Oregon Black Pioneers with objects borrowed from Oregon Historical Society, Gresham Historical Society, and Five Oaks Museum. In February 2023, we will open This IS Kalapuyan Land, featuring original exhibition panels borrowed from Five Oaks Museum and works of art by Pacific Northwest Native artists, curated by Steph Littlebird-Fogel (Grand Ronde).
We commit to continuing this engagement working in close collaboration “with” the communities whose voices and stories we want to lift.
Reflecting Diversity in Pittock Mansion Staff, Leadership and Board
The Board has formally committed to institutional and audience diversity and is actively increasing its own diversity. We are proud that our staff team reflects a broad range of diversity. The organization has hired staff leadership with diverse backgrounds and has embarked on an examination of how Pittock Mansion, its Board, and its staff can ensure accessibility, relevance, and enrichment for the many diverse communities throughout the Portland metro area and beyond.
Recently inducted board members are not only passionate about DEAI but also bring years of experience in the field of social justice. Their knowledge and network will help shape the organizational DEAI policies and practices.
In May 2022, Pittock Mansion welcomed new CEO Paula Gangopadhyay, a nationally recognized and widely respected leader in the cultural, government and education sector. She brings Pittock a wealth of experience, knowledge, and a
robust network of experts and practitioners around DEAI and social justice issues. She is leading the organization’s future vision, strategic planning and community engagement strategies in which DEAI is front and center. This visioning and action plan development will be conducted through a systematic and thoughtful process of listening, collaboration, reflection, learning, and sharing with internal and external stakeholders to ensure outcomes are truly inclusive and equitable.
Providing a Public Forum for Conversations and Learning
In conjunction with the recent exhibition, Black in Oregon, we have been hosting lectures by noted scholars and public historians that have provided a deeper perspective on the complex topic of race. We plan to continue offering these forums as part of our public programs.
Noted historian, Doctor Darrell Millner’s opening lecture, Beyond the Black Pioneer – Oregon in Context of National History provided the audience an opportunity to learn, reflect and clarify assumptions about this challenging historical period. Public Historian Stephanie Vallance’s closing lecture will shed light on the extraordinary story of Letitia Carson. Despite blatant state-sanctioned racism and widespread anti-Black sentiment, Carson won two court cases against her wealthy, White, land-owning neighbor. This talk will illuminate the mostly untold story of Black women in the history of Oregon settlement and the often contradictory racial and political landscape of Oregon’s early statehood.
We are recording these lectures so that we may widely disseminate the information via our website and incorporate video segments in new digital education resources.
Providing Greater Access to Underserved Communities
Pittock Mansion has been offering free or heavily discounted admission for underserved Youth Groups/Programs and Care Homes for the Disabled.
Since 2017, Pittock Mansion has participated in the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Arts for All program, allowing anyone receiving SNAP benefits to obtain $5 admission for themselves and a guest.
In 2022, Pittock Mansion will be transitioning to the nationally recognized Museums for All access program, allowing families with EBT cards to visit the mansion at a further reduced rate of $3/person. Museums for All is a national program supported by the federal agency, Institute of Museum and Library Services. Pittock Mansion will be honored to join over 1000 museums—large and small—that are part of this program, which has allowed over five million economically-disadvantaged visitors to enjoy and learn from a museum experience.
Pittock Mansion Society recognizes that the newly initiated DEAI efforts are just the beginning steps in what needs to be a continuum. It is committed to carrying on its efforts to help shape a more equitable future.
For further inquiries, please contact: Paula Gangopadhyay, CEO, Pittock Mansion Society at firstname.lastname@example.org