Today Ithaka S+R releases two research reports, the 2022 Art Museum Trustee Survey and the Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey 2022, which introduce new insights into key constituencies in the cultural sector. For roughly a decade Ithaka S+R has produced research reports that shed light on strategy and leadership, staff demographics and employment characteristics, as well as governance and organizational structure within art museums.

2022 Art Museum Trustee Survey

The inaugural Art Museum Trustee Survey was conducted in partnership with the Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums (BTA). BTA is a non-profit membership organization for Black Trustees of art museums in North America, founded in 2021 to increase the inclusion of Black perspectives and narratives in art museums through research, community, and communication. This survey was also conducted in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), who contributed with outreach and distribution.

Key findings from this reveal insights about the identity and characteristics of Black trustees, who are younger, more likely to hold PhDs or professional degrees, and more likely to be first generation college students than other trustees. Findings also reveal on which committees Black trustees are more or less likely to serve, and how the experiences of Black trustees compare to those of other trustees of color and White trustees. This inaugural survey provides a benchmark from which change can be measured over time, and can hopefully encourage senior leadership to reflect and reimagine how to engage with their boards.

The survey results are also supplemented with qualitative evidence gathered from 20 interviews. We have included the perspectives of three trustees in their own words, including Dana King former trustee of the Oakland Museum of California, Alicia Wilson, trustee at The Walters Art Museum, and Darrianne Christian, Board Chair at Newfields. These interviews reveal how trustees navigated their institutions through the pandemic, dealt with communication crises, and succeeded in raising minimum salaries among staff.

Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey 2022

SInce 2014, we have conducted a survey of staff demographics with art museums on a periodic basis for the Mellon Foundation. Each survey cycle gives us the opportunity to track changes in museum staff characteristics over time, and for this third cycle we have been able to develop a more sophisticated analysis using our multi-year data. In this report, we have expanded our analysis to include all art museum positions and look more closely at representation over time for specific racial/ethnic categories. We have also integrated data from the recently published 2022 Art Museum Director Survey with the 2022 Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey, showing the intersecting relationships between museum directors’ perspectives and the composition of their staff. This project is conducted in collaboration with the Association of Art Museum Directors, the American Alliance of Museums, with contributions from the Center for Curatorial Leadership, the Association of African American Museums, the Association of Art Museum Curators.

At a high level, the findings reveal that employment in art museums continues to grow more diverse across all positions. Employees that identify as people of color (POC) now make up over one-third of all museum staff. Additionally, museum positions that showed very little change from 2015 to 2018 had substantially higher representation of POC staff in 2022. However, when looking more closely at specific identity groups and specific roles, findings reveal that there is a degree of siloing in the museum sector that may be an indicator of inequity. For example, POC employees continue to be overrepresented in Building Operations jobs relative to other positions. Findings also show how the composition of the field has changed since the pandemic. The report’s multi-year analysis of all museum positions and its intersection with the Museum Director Survey extends the project’s contributions from tracking racial/ethnic and gender representation to the broader conversation in the field around diversity, job quality, retention, and pay.