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June 12, 2020

How Will Museums Live Up to their Solidarity Commitments?

Last week at the American Alliance of Museums Virtual meeting, Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, Secretary Lonnie Bunch, and Lori Fogarty discussed the protests that have erupted across the country and around the world, in order to start a dialogue about the museum’s role in confronting structural racism in America. Since the reignition of Black Lives Matter protests by George Floyd’s murder, many museums…
April 24, 2020

The “Viral Pandemic Exclusion” Clause in Business Interruption Insurance Policies

After one month of quarantining to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the economic impacts of closing small businesses and cultural centers are becoming apparent. In the weeks and months to come, affected organizations will seek relief from numerous institutions for these sacrifices, which were necessary to comply with local orders, decrease the burden on the healthcare industry, and save lives in their communities. The form that relief will take remains to be seen. In cases where cultural organizations…
April 13, 2020

To Survive This Pandemic, Some Museums are Pivoting to Virtual Engagement 

Museums are in trouble. Consider the three primary sources of revenue for museums: earned revenue from visitors, private support, and endowment income. The first is indefinitely suspended, advocating for the second is increasingly difficult to justify during a public health crisis, and the third has been dramatically reduced by losses in the market. The Met and MoMA are laying off hundreds. While the threats those museums face are not necessarily existential, many other museums with smaller budgets will…
March 18, 2020

Cultural Organizations & COVID-19

Documenting Virtual Engagement Strategies

Efforts to stem the spread of COVID-19 have fundamentally, and in many cases permanently, transformed the landscape of cultural consumption. As of Monday, March 16th, over 400 major US museums have closed their doors and ceased their traditional programming. While this is an essential part of collectively weathering a public health crisis that is likely to overwhelm the US healthcare system in a matter of days, these closures invariably introduce a deep degree of precarity for hundreds of…
January 23, 2020

Brooklyn Museum’s Paid Internship Program

When considering the themes of the art world in 2019, money seems to dominate the narrative, perhaps slightly more than usual, and from a few different angles. Jeff Koons reclaimed the title of most expensive sale of an artwork by a living artist at $90.2 million. Protests addressed the controversial philanthropy of Kanders and the Sacklers, among others. Museum staff unionized at the…
December 18, 2019

Gearing up for a National Survey of Art Museum Leaders

This winter, we will field our first national survey of art museum directors in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and with support from the Kress Foundation. This study builds on our previous work with art museums, including the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey, case studies with eight AAMD museums, and research into the organizational structure of art museums, as…
September 12, 2019

How Can Academic Libraries and University Museums Effectively Collaborate?

Ithaka S+R is conducting a study on the relationship between academic libraries and campus museums, looking specifically at how they are governed and structured. With funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we are in the process of inviting forty universities to participate, and over the Fall will interview the directors of both their museum and library in order to learn more about how these campus units operate in relation to the university and to one another.  …
July 10, 2019

Studying the Organizational Structure of the Art Museum

In recent years, American art museums have faced a complex set of institutional demands, from scrutiny over ethical issues concerning donor relations, to hiring practices and efforts towards making the museum more accessible to the public. At the same time, museums enjoy a high level of public trust at a time when most American institutions are actively mistrusted. The sector produces over 700,000 jobs, adding over $50 billion to the…
January 28, 2019

Museums Grow More Diverse, But Change is Uneven

Today we are pleased to announce the publication of the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey 2018. In partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ithaka S+R has conducted a study of the demographics of the art museum field. This report builds on findings from the  Art Museum Demographic Survey we conducted in 2015, showing that, while some meaningful progress has been made towards…
September 20, 2018

Improving Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Art Museums

New Report Synthesizes Findings from Eight Case Studies

Over the past year, Ithaka S+R and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation have partnered in a major qualitative study of equity, diversity, inclusion, and community engagement in art museums. In this project, which was conducted through detailed case studies of eight art museums, we did not find a panacea. Our work, however, finds that these eight museums have followed an array of common strategies, and through ongoing hard work have made a meaningful…
August 23, 2018

Announcing the 2018 Demographic Survey of Art Museum Employees

In 2014, Ithaka S+R partnered with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) to study the representational diversity within art museums through quantitative means. Today, four years after the first study, we are undertaking a second cycle of the demographic survey, to measure what we hope will be positive change in the field. The initial demographic survey arose from a growing concern that cultural organizations are struggling…
June 8, 2018

Spelman College Museum and MCA Chicago

New Case Studies in Museum Diversity

In an ongoing effort to document the equity, diversity, and inclusion practices of art museums, Ithaka S+R, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), has published two new case studies. At Fifty, Remodeling for Equity: MCA Chicago studies the operations, collections, programs and audience of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This museum has undertaken creative strategies to partner board and staff in a horizontal committee intended to address issues of…
January 23, 2018

Making Strides towards Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Examples from Four Art Museums

Over the past three years, Ithaka S+R has conducted three wide-scale analyses of employee diversity in cultural organizations. These have included academic research libraries, the cultural sector in New York City, and American art museums. In all three studies, a common picture has emerged: staff in professional–and especially leadership–roles are more predominately white than is the population more broadly. But, as…
April 12, 2017

Forthcoming Case Studies of Eight Art Museums

This month we are very excited to begin qualitative research on inclusion, diversity, and equity issues in eight American art museums. This research builds on a previous study we undertook on behalf of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and in consultation with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), which found that art museum employees were more racially homogeneous than the U.S. population, especially in professional roles.  Our current research, through the…
February 22, 2017

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Art Museums

Learning from the Community

How diverse are America’s art museums? In terms of one measure—employee demographics—not very. A 2014 study, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and undertaken by Ithaka S+R in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), showed that the field is much more homogenous with respect to race and ethnicity than the nation as a whole. While these findings have…
January 31, 2017

Dataset for DCLA Diversity Survey Available at the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture

In 2015, Ithaka S+R partnered with New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs to conduct a survey to measure the demographics of the city’s cultural sector. The report of findings was published in January 2016, and is available on our website. Recently, the data used for this report has been made available in an anonymized form through a new national initiative toward archiving data in the arts. The survey of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs grantees…
June 28, 2016

With Support of Third Parties, Aiming for Impact in Diversity Research

Over the past two years, Ithaka S+R has had the opportunity to conduct several projects that study issues of equity, inclusion, and especially representative diversity, in the cultural and academic sectors. A recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education raised troubling questions about the diversity efforts at one major university, which it described as stuck in a “perpetual loop: Form a committee in reaction to a crisis, pledge to diversify the faculty,…
May 12, 2016

BRIC Gallery: An Inclusive Space for a Diverse Organization

Earlier this month, Ithaka S+R published a study on the Brooklyn-based arts and media organization, BRIC. We were excited to explore how some of BRIC’s community partnerships have influenced the atmosphere of its space, contributing to the organization’s presence as a leader on issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion in New York City’s cultural sector. BRIC’s gallery is a prominent feature of the organization’s new home, BRIC House. It doubles as both a performance space and a contemporary…
May 3, 2016

Taking a Closer Look at Diversity in New York City’s Dance Community

Since the release of “Diversity in the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs Community” in January, there have been some continued efforts to further understand the survey findings and make them actionable. In March, the Theater Subdistrict Council announced a new diversity grant program intended to provide training for technical and production staff from diverse backgrounds. Meanwhile, Ithaka S+R has been engaged in a study of BRIC, a Brooklyn-based arts and media organization, with the aim of…
March 23, 2016

Library Acquisitions Pilot: Looking At The Data

In an earlier blog post we discussed a methodology we are testing to gauge whether a cross institutional analysis of library acquisitions may be possible in the future by leveraging next generation integrated library systems (ILS), which store libraries’ data in the cloud and, in some cases, allow for one member library to generate a report that can be run easily for any of their customers. In this post we share a dashboard (below) that shows how we could…