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Akron Art Museum Prepares for Protesters As It Begins Reopening

a photo of Akron Art Museum
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Protesters plan to demonstrate when the Akron Art Museum reopens to members Thursday and the general public a week later.

The Akron Art Museum reopens to members Thursday, July 16 and the general public a week later.

Interim Director Jon Fiume says they plan to provide visitors with a contactless experience. Visitors will have to register for timed entry to limit crowds, and everyone must wear a mask. 

“We are of course increasing our cleaning and sanitizing procedures and processes. We also have signage throughout the museum that will guide visitors along a path that helps to ensure social distancing.”

The museum won’t be hosting any interactive exhibits as part of the effort to minimize contact and exposure. The museum gift shop and café will also remain closed.

When the museum does reopen tomorrow, protesters are expected to be outside continuing calls for accountability. Former staff members described a hostile work culture and racist comments made by former director Mark Masuoka, who resigned under pressure in May

They want a public apology and resignations of staff and trustees.

Fiume says he welcomes the protests.

Interim Director Jon Fiume says he understands protesters' concerns, and will work to keep people safe.

“The protesters have already stated that they are peaceful protests. We certainly understand their concerns. But with any event that is occurring at the museum, we’re obviously taking necessary precautions, working with the Akron police department and then of course providing our staff with guidance.”

The accountability group started a petition on change-dot-org seeking the removal of the museum board’s executive committee. At the time of posting, 643 people have signed the petition.  

In a July 10 letter to the museum community, board president Dr. Drew Engles apologized to staff and members. He said he won’t step down because he wants to be part of the solution and said there are several initiatives under way to transform the board and drive systemic change at the museum.

Sean Fitzgerald is a senior journalism major at Kent State University. Sean has been with Black Squirrel Radio, Kent State's student-run radio station since the spring of 2018 as a sports show host and co-host, a web article contributor and now serves as the sports department director for the station. Sean hopes to pursue a career in sports journalism once he finishes school.