By Lindsey Arnold Seevers
The Johnson County Museum’s special initiative, “REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs, and Segregation,” has been honored with two prestigious national awards: Recognition for the Advancement of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the Social Justice award from the National Association of County Park and Recreation Officials (NACPRO).
AAM - Recognition for the Advancement of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion
This recognition from AAM highlights important and noteworthy work that is driving impact and making a difference both internally through museum workplace culture, programs, and policies, and externally through engagement with museum audiences and communities. This is the Johnson County Museum’s first award from AAM.
NACPRO – Social Justice
The Social Justice award category from NACPRO honors a park system that has served as a change agent and made a tangible impact in the community or workplace in the DEIB space, as well as outstanding leadership and collaboration in community programs or projects. The Johnson County Museum has received recognition from NACPRO for several different programs, including the Removing Barriers Initiative for Sensory Friendly Mondays in 2022, and the Historical/Cultural Facility Award in 2018.
“JCPRD is proud of our museum team for their engagement with our community, thorough research, creativity, and the incredible storytelling ability that allows us to learn about our history” said Johnson County Park and Recreation District Executive Director Jeff Stewart.
“History is powerful,” said Johnson County Museum Director Mary McMurray, “It has the power to spark curiosity, make meaning, provide a sense of understanding of ourselves and each other. I will forever be proud that the Johnson County Museum was able to engage in this important topic that shaped so many of the realities we now know, thankful to the cultural partners for making our work better with their perspectives and programs, and in awe of our community who dove deeply into this hard history…and left asking for more.”
A 1,500-square foot exhibition that explored the historical and local roots of the systematic disinvestment of some neighborhoods and populations in favor of others based on race was the centerpiece of the initiative. Stunning graphics, interactives, and art pieces created in response to redlining by nine members of the African American Artists Collective encouraged visitors to explore the history and lasting legacies of the now-illegal federal policy.
Museum staff also engaged more than 20 cultural organizations across the Kansas/Missouri bi-state area to offer programming at their locations related to redlining and its continued impact. These programs ignited a community-wide conversation about redlining and its legacies. Staff also developed field trips and educational resources, gallery guide cards for adults and families, public tours, weekly social media posts, and blogs designed to help the community to delve deeper into the relatively unknown history of redlining.
Over 34,000 community members visited the exhibit with over 100 group tours delivered to community organizations, civic groups, churches, and private companies, all wishing to grow in the understanding of diversity and inclusion. With the public wanting more, staff responded by creating a REDLINED book that has sold more than 650 copies and is now available at 11 libraries and archives across the region.
The “REDLINED: Cities, Suburbs, and Segregation” special exhibit closed on Jan. 7, but a fundraising campaign is currently underway to transform the content of the physical exhibit into a high-quality digital experience. This initiative, led by The Friends of the Johnson County Museum and The Parks and Recreation Foundation of Johnson County, aims to raise $125,000 in support of the project and on-going public programming. Learn more about the campaign at JCPRD.com/REDLINED.
The Johnson County Museum is a department of the Johnson County Park and Recreation District and is located within the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center located at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.