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 same partnership, will focus on how some museums have achieved a degree of racial diversity in those professional roles. This effort will involve a holistic study of the institutions—from HR practices to community engagement initiatives, from programming and exhibitions to institutional climate.

Using the data from the 2015 survey, we identified 20 museums where underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities have a relatively substantial presence in the following positions: educators, curators, conservators, and museum leadership.[1]  We then gauged the interest of these 20 museums in participating, also asking a few questions about their history with diversity. In shaping the final list of participants, we also sought to ensure some amount of breadth in terms of location, museum size, and museum type. Our final group includes the following museums:

  • The Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh)
  • Brooklyn Museum
  • Contemporary Arts Museum Houston
  • Detroit Institute of Arts
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Spelman College Museum (Atlanta)
  • Studio Museum in Harlem

During 2017, our research team will visit each of these museums, generating a case study of each, to be published beginning late in the spring. We hope that these case studies will provide ideas and guidance that will aid many different kinds of museums in improving their inclusion, diversity, and equity. Early in 2018 we will release a full length report, synthesizing those findings.



[1] Given that 84% of those positions are composed of white non-Hispanic employees, “relatively” is very much the operative word.