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 we found in the analysis of American art museums, there are outliers—organizations that have made significant strides in diversifying staff in curatorial, education, conservation, and leadership positions.

Today, in partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), we are publishing four case studies, the first group in a series of eight, which take a closer look at these museums. What practices are effective in making the American art museum more inclusive? By what measures? How have these museums been successful in diversifying their professional staff? What do leaders on issues of social justice, equity, and inclusion in the art museum have to share with their peers? And, most importantly, can the strategies employed in these museums help other cultural organizations diversify their ranks?

These first four studies include:

An Engine for Diversity: Studio Museum in Harlem

“I Recommend Dancing”: Brooklyn Museum’s History of Inclusion and Moment of Transition

Pipelines and Inroads: The Andy Warhol Museum

Reflecting Los Angeles, Decentralized and Global: Los Angeles County Museum of Art

While each of these museums operates in a unique context, they hold lessons in talent development, community outreach, board relations, and organizational structure that can be applied in other settings. We hope that the case studies will help leaders approach inclusion, diversity, and equity issues with fresh perspectives.

We look forward to sharing additional studies in the coming months, followed by a synthesis of what lessons museums and their leaders can draw from this series.