Art museums are in the midst of substantial transformations while trying to stay true to their values. They are buffeted by changes in technology, demographics, and how individuals and families choose to spend their leisure time or seek opportunities for cultural enrichment. How are leaders in this sector addressing these challenges? And, what future directions are they pursuing to stay relevant and achieve greater impact?  With support from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, Ithaka S+R is launching a project to understand the critical issues facing art museum leaders today.

Identifying the perceived strategic dilemmas and directions of art museum leaders, as well as their intended resource allocations and constraints, will provide substantial insights for the community. Working in close partnership on this project with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and an advisory committee that it will help us to develop, we will conduct a national survey of directors of art museums.

Ithaka S+R has extensive experience analyzing the attitudes and behaviors of organizational leaders in the library sector through our Library Survey, which has tracked the perceptions and intentions of library directors since 2010. Our expertise indicates that studying the dilemmas facing the leading members of a cultural organization community produces extensive insights and valuable opportunity for collective self-reflection. It is also an effective vehicle for determining the research and policy needs of a community, so that subsequent projects can be targeted in response to real demand.

Following the completion of the work funded under this proposal, we aim to continue this survey on a triennial cycle. Establishing a survey cycle will allow us to track changes in strategy and priorities over time, as well as progress towards meeting the challenges that this first survey uncovers.