Marstine: Do you think art museums in the US have become more socially just over the course of your career?
Wilson: I think museums are more socially just in the way that the rest of the country is more socially just because, since the 1970s, the popular media has expanded people’s awareness. The core audience, for art museums at least, remains white, upper middle-class and well educated. There’s still lots that has to happen in the United States around equity and social justice. But, in my lifetime, I’ve seen a great change in that museums are now realizing that there are people not in the room that should be there. That issue of social inclusivity is now discussed all the way to the board level. I am on the board of trustees at several major institutions. Diversifying the board has become a part of the discussions of nominating committees. That is a huge change. When I first came into the art world, even those people who really were do-gooders, who wanted change, were just wringing their hands, asking – how do we make ‘them’ happy? You know, the language being used – ‘them’ – showed that not only were these museum professionals clueless, but they had no connection or access to anybody other than people like themselves. They didn’t know how to make that leap. Others didn’t want to make that leap, but they were masking it. But, over the course of thirty years, there has been enough agitation in some circles, and enough education in others, that staff members now see a need for a socially equitable museum structure. Staff members also understand that they can gain from it, not only financially, but intellectually. And I see this development not only in museums but also in nonprofit art organizations and commercial art galleries.