“Good” Racial Prejudice At The Art Institute of Chicago


You have to wonder how long it will be before all these idealistic, liberal-minded, wealthy white people begin to realize that their support for progressive candidates and causes won’t save them from being discriminated against, insulted and abused as the woke mob they helped put in power presses on with its plan of compensatory racism. If the answer is “never, because they are weenies and fools”—and it might be—there is no calculating how far this Bizarro World version of “justice” and “inclusiveness” might go.

The Art Institute of Chicago summarily fired all of its volunteer docents. Almost all were retired white women. They were canned in a masterpiece of authentic frontier gibberish authored by Veronica Stein (above), the museum’s newly appointed Woman’s Board Executive Director of Learning and Public Engagement, who announced her priorities as “designing culturally responsive programming and anti-racist curricula, cultivating fully accessible spaces, and ensuring staff wellness and learning.” Somehow, anti-racism also meant eliminating the trained and dedicated docent staff because they were too white. “She had further stated, we acknowledge our responsibility to rebuild the volunteer educator program in a way that allows community members of all income levels to participate, responds to issues of class and income equity, and does not require financial flexibility to participate. Rather than refresh our current program, systems, and processes, we feel that now is the time to rebuild our program from the ground up.”

Volunteers are not covered by federal employment laws, so the wealthy white women who chose to serve the community for free out of their civic pride and generosity will be replaced with a new “diverse” group of non-volunteers, who will be paid $25 an hour to do be less trained and experienced than the docents just released. The few non-white volunteers had to go as well, because there was no way to fire just the white women without making the racist motives behind the move too apparent.

The Docent Council complained about the decision in a letter to Art Institute President James Rondeau, which listed their members accomplishments and qualifications and further stated,

We believe we were dismissed (1) because the museum’s perspective is that the current docent corps’ demographics do not meet the need of the strategic plan (2) the museum concluded that reengineering the docent program was a step towards achieving the museum’s important goal of creating a culture of diversity and inclusion.

And that’s what you get, ladies, when you accept the dubious proposition of diversity for diversity’s sake, where merit takes a back seat to quotas. They were not given the courtesy, gratitude or loyalty of being moved into the new positions they would be overwhelmingly qualified for if they weren’t too white and “privileged.”

The Chicago Tribune, hardly Fox News, wrote in an editorial, “Once you cut through the blather, [Stein’s] letter basically said the museum had looked critically at its corps of docents, a group dominated by mostly (but not entirely) white, retired women with some time to spare, and found them wanting as a demographic,” stated the Chicago Tribune.

And about that letter: cutting through the blather is no easy task. I’ve published it below. Writes Dennis Byrne at Chicago Now: “Know what this tells me? That the Art Institute has lost its commitment to its patrons. The Institute is being run for the benefit of the woke bureaucracy that’s now in charge. Nuts to all the tourists who include Chicago on their itinerary because they want to visit the Art Institute. Nuts to the regular Chicagoans and suburbanites who take out memberships because they like to visit frequency, sometimes on the spur of the moment. Nuts to the black and brown Chicago school children who benefited mightily from the docent tours. It’s a sad commentary on what the woke mindset has gifted to us–another reduction in the quality of our lives.”

Know what this tells the mainstream media? This…

There’s no story here, is the liberal media’s verdict. I cannot find any mention of it by a non-conservative source. That allows the story to be dismissed as just another “conservative” delusion and racist conspiracy theory. You’ll enjoy the euphemisms, like “update” meaning “pink slip” and “an opportunity to grow into a new phase of this work” meaning ” a way to get rid of your privileged white asses.” “Incredibly grateful for your dedication to our community and for your meaningful work” means, of course, “not grateful at all.”

Below is Stein’s letter, dumping the docents.


September 3, 2021

Dear volunteer educators,

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Art Institute. I continue to be incredibly grateful for your dedication to our community and for your meaningful work.

I write to you today with an update on our volunteer educator program and our overall approach to enhancing our visitors’ experience of the museum through sustained, meaningful engagement with the collection. Driven by our mission to share our singular collections with our city and the world, the Art Institute is a place of gathering; we foster the exchange of ideas and inspire an expansive, inclusive understanding of human creativity. Without question, much of this exchange and inspiration happens directly in our galleries––on school tours, during family visits, and recently, through virtual programs.

As a leader in our field, we continue to evolve our systems to better meet the needs of our visitors, supporters, and staff. Over the last year, we have had the opportunity to evaluate our volunteer educator program. As a civic institution, we acknowledge our responsibility to rebuild the volunteer educator program in a way that allows community members of all income levels to participate, responds to issues of class and income equity, and does not require financial flexibility to participate. Rather than refresh our current program, systems, and processes, we feel that now is the time to rebuild our program from the ground up. This means the program’s current iteration will come to an end.

The museum’s docent program was first established in 1961 with the support of the Woman’s Board and the Junior League of Chicago to revitalize and expand programming for children. Since that time, the program has benefited from the active engagement and enthusiasm of devoted volunteers, reaching countless students and visitors. As we honor the legacy of these contributions and express gratitude to the numerous volunteers who have brought our galleries to life for so many audiences, we acknowledge this moment as an opportunity to grow into a new phase of this work.

We have developed a three-year plan during which we will design, develop, and implement a new, sustainable program that is more closely aligned with our redefined mission, values, and identity. The museum aims to build a responsive, sustainable, and inclusive program that integrates the goals outlined in our strategic plan: to honor and embrace our civic role by investing in Chicago-area learners, educators, and creatives and to reinvigorate in-gallery learning programs to promote accessibility, equitable teaching approaches, and greater inclusion of visitors’ cultures. We aspire to cultivate lifelong visitors, prioritize the evolving needs of our Chicagoland communities, and serve as a model for peer institutions.

Central to this new program will be the development of a pool of part-time, paid museum educators. By scaling back our program to a limited number of paid educators, the Learning and Public Engagement department will be better positioned to train, support, and manage this staff, facilitate program evaluation, and perform quality assurance. We will eventually grow this initially small pool of paid educators to fit the needs of the institution. Importantly, all current volunteer educators are invited to apply for the paid museum educator positions.

The program will take a phased approach. From now until December 2021, we will transition to a ratio of 80% in-gallery tours and programming to 20% virtual tours and programming. Overall educational programming will continue at a reduced scale. Staff will design models for educator recruitment, training, and assessment, identifying and dismantling barriers that have historically limited participation.

Another key element will be a five-member advisory board composed of volunteer educators and leaders in the museum education field to help inform our path forward. While this group will function in a consultative rather than decision-making capacity, we believe that it is critical to honor our volunteer educators’ experience and insight as we embark on our programmatic design process.

In 2022, we will increase our capacity and reinstitute the Ryan Learning Center volunteer program––both for greeter roles and for art-making events. Then, in 2023, unpaid volunteer educators will be re-introduced via a redesigned model that includes an updated recruitment, application, training, and assessment protocols.

In recognition of your dedicated work and passionate support of the museum and our visitors, we are providing you and all our volunteer educators complimentary memberships through 2023. We will also offer exclusive access to two annual lectures presented at the museum. We are eager to support our community through meaningful and culturally responsive arts learning experiences, and we thank you for your continued collaboration and support. We very much hope that you will stay connected with us as we build on this remarkable history.

With sincere appreciation,

Veronica Stein Woman’s Board Executive Director of Learning and Public Engagement

22 thoughts on ““Good” Racial Prejudice At The Art Institute of Chicago

    • Do you mean, like Whoopi Goldberg? (A Jewish friend once told me that she might have chosen that nom de theatre the better to get her applications considered by agents.)

      It may be time to update* the following limerick:**-

      They’re a curious family, Stein
      There’s Gertrude, there’s Ep, and there’s Ein
      Gert’s poetry’s bunk
      Ep’s sculpture is junk
      And no-one can understand Ein.

      * I am conscious that this may be understood in la Stein’s sense of “update”.

      ** Other variants of this limerick may be found.

  1. Isn’t art oppressive? Shouldn’t the entire collection be auctioned off and the proceeds given to marginalized people? Maybe Hunter Biden will throw in a few of his pieces for free? Shouldn’t the Art Institute buildings be turned into free housing for marginalized people?

    • Other Bill, It’s the same thing I thought. Now that 100 older mostly white women have been FIRED and hence, effectively SILENCED FOREVER, the writing is on the wall for all art created by white people. For isn’t art by white people after all about the white experience? And wouldn’t that make it offensive? One can imagine their removal. Or maybe, they will be quietly and conveniently sold off to pay for woke programs or woke art. And will white people be welcomed to these? I don’t know. I am Hispanic, and I don’t feel included. Besides most Hispanics are considered white as are many Asians. This is 100% my personal opinion commentary and not fact.

  2. This makes me sad. I saw Wood’s “American Gothic” and Seurat’s “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte” there. Maybe those artists are too white and will go out the door with nary a “Thanks” than the docents did. Or maybe they’ll sit on the walls with no one knowledgeable enough to explain them because the new paid docents will not bother to learn a thing about them.

  3. I think a few parts of this letter were overlooked:

    “As a civic institution, we acknowledge our responsibility to rebuild the volunteer educator program in a way that allows community members of all income levels to participate, responds to issues of class and income equity, and does not require financial flexibility to participate.”

    That indicates they’re trying to set up compensated positions so that people from all economic backgrounds can work at the museum, and so that the museum can effectively create jobs in the community.

    Then there’s this part: “Importantly, all current volunteer educators are invited to apply for the paid museum educator positions.”

    Obviously we should still keep an eye on what the paid educators are supposed to say about the art and in general, but it’s not on its face a sinister move. The only suspicious part is how long the letter takes to reveal the actual plan; it’s burying the lede.

    • One need not disband the loyal core to add paid positions. I find it hard to believe that you will be able to find trained docents for museum who will exceed the qualifications of the existing personnel. The implied goal is to start fresh with new hires that Stein and her board chooses which requires the elimination of all existing docents. The idea behind having demographic representation in education instead of having the best is why our schools are failing today.

      • Well, since it would indeed be unwise to assume their motives are ethical, I do have a couple sarcastic questions:

        How would young children of color learn that old white women hate them if old white women are giving them tours around the art museum? How would they learn that all art is centered around victimizing them if that’s not on the tour?

  4. My favorite part is this message “from the top”:

    “ we feel that now is the time to rebuild our program from the ground up.”

    You can’t rebuild from the ground up without getting rid of the people on the top. She’s rebuilding from the top down.


  5. Let the facts speak for themselves:
    “Despite the lack of remuneration—they do this to be helpful and because they love art—their training to be docents is extremely rigorous. First, they have to have two training sessions per week for eighteen months, and then “five years of continual research and writing to meet the criteria of 13 museum content areas” (quote from the docents’ letter to the Director of the AIC). On top of that, there’s monthly and biweekly training on new exhibits. Then there are the tours themselves, with a docent giving up to two one-hour tours per day for 18 weeks of the year and a minimum of 24 one-hour tours with adults/families. Their average length of service: 15 years. There are other requirements listed by the Docents Council in the ChicagoNow column below.


    Veronica Stein is an idiot.

  6. I’m triggered by this whole situation. I feel the Art Institute is no longer a safe space for me.

    Apparently, that’s the idea.

  7. Just where are all the “feminists”? I know, I know, they are too busy sticking up for non-biological women’s rights to worry about a few old white ladies.

  8. Most people who volunteer “require financial flexibility to participate.” If you are working all the time, volunteering is difficult, especially if you have kids. College students, retired people, and people with a fair amount of disposable income have the easiest time volunteering. These people are trying to bend reality to their own whims and preferences.

      • I’m in the Twilight Zone – Shattner is in the next post. This post is about the Art Institute of Chicago.

        Or, should I say, “Get the Brick”?

      • Heck, It seems you’ve missed my comment. I was hoping to be the first to use, “Get the brick” – However, there is definitely a possibility someone else used it already because I’m sure I miss some small portion of the commentary.


        5. Announcement of new Ethics Alarms–speak. After last night’s post that I rendered almost incomprehensible by inexplicably calling the subject of it by two different names, the phrase “Get the brick” will signify a statement, assertion or error by your host that suggests creeping dementia.The phase now joins “Niggardly Principles,” “You owe me a keyboard,” “Axis of Unethical Conduct,” “the Julie Principle,” “#22” and many other terms that puzzle new or occasional readers.

  9. Every one of those dismissed older volunteer docents should apply for the new paid positions, and when they are not hired (for obvious reasons) they should file EEOC complaints, and sue for age, sex and race discrimination. Their objective qualifications should be beyond question, forcing the woke powers that be to even further expose their true motivations. I would at least make them spend a lot of money in getting rid of me!

  10. It’s not just the getting rid of docents— many other wonderful programs are no more at AIC. The travel programs were excellent and the Spring and Summer day adventures were outstanding and had a huge following. The decisions of the last few years to end programs have been devastating—- donations will suffer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.