Skip to Main Content

Topic: Museums

Blog Post
March 26, 2019

A New Survey of Art Museum Directors

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…
Blog Post
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…
Research Report
January 28, 2019

Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey 2018

In order to gauge the extent to which progress has been made since 2015 towards increasing staff diversity in art museums, in 2018 we undertook a second iteration of the demographic survey. At a high level, the study has found some meaningful progress in the representation of people of color in a number of different museum functions, including the curatorial. We also found an increase in the number of women in museum leadership positions from 2015 to 2018. Nevertheless, the…
Blog Post
January 9, 2019

Redoubling Our Commitment to Museums and the Arts

In recent years, Ithaka S+R has completed a number of major research and advisory projects focusing on the museums, arts, and cultural communities. In 2019, we are redoubling our commitment through a number of new projects and growth on our team. Many in the museums community are most familiar with Ithaka S+R because of our ongoing partnership with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the American Alliance of…
Blog Post
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…
Research Report
September 20, 2018

Interrogating Institutional Practices in Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Lessons and Recommendations from Case Studies in Eight Art Museums

In 2015, a demographic survey of the staff of North American art museums conducted by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and Ithaka S+R found that the staff composition of museums in the United States is not remotely representative of the country’s population....In 2015, a demographic survey of the staff of North American art museums conducted by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), American Alliance of…
Case Study
September 20, 2018

Free for All: Contemporary Arts Museum Houston

Upon its founding in 1948, the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) was the first museum devoted to contemporary art in the region. Since its inception, this 16,000 square foot gallery, located between the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and Rice University, has responded to its rich environmental context. Houston has long been known for its remarkably diverse population, as well as its contributions to civil liberties, from Smith vs. Allwright in 1944, which ended the common practice of “white…
Case Study
September 20, 2018

Becoming a Public Square: Detroit Institute of Arts

Detroit Institute of Arts Facade, Courtesy of the Detroit Institute of Arts Located in midtown Detroit’s cultural center, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) is one of the largest encyclopedic museums in the country, housing nearly 66,000 works of art. From the outside, described by many of its staff as looking like a castle on a hill, one would not guess at the museum’s turbulent history, stemming from a complex relationship with the city of Detroit. Today,…
Blog Post
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…
Blog Post
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…
Case Study
June 7, 2018

At Fifty, Remodeling for Equity

MCA Chicago

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA Chicago) occupies a premier location in Chicago’s downtown. Situated in the city’s historic Gold Coast, one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the country, the museum is buffered by two public parks, which grant it a view of Lake Michigan.[1] It is the largest contemporary arts museum in the country, with around 140 full-time and 200 part-time staff, and almost 3,000 works in its permanent collection. In 2017, MCA Chicago celebrated…
Case Study
June 7, 2018

Small but Mighty: Spelman College Museum

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is located on the serene campus of a prominent Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Atlanta, Georgia. A women’s institution located in the Atlanta University Center, which also includes Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and the Morehouse School of Medicine, Spelman College is ranked as the top HBCU in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[1] The museum fits neatly within the scope of its host institution; its mission is…
Past Event
June 23, 2018

First Listen: Advocating for Equity and Inclusion

Liam Sweeney at the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries Annual Conference

On Saturday, June 23, Liam Sweeney will take part in a panel discussion, “First Listen: Advocating for Equity and Inclusion,” at the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries Annual Conference in Miami. He will be drawing on lessons learned from the museum case studies in diversity. For more information about the conference, see the AAMG website. From the conference website: The panel will discuss strategies, techniques, and resources used by their own institutions to address diversity issues as a…
Past Event
May 8, 2018

Museum Inclusion: Roger Schonfeld and Liam Sweeney at AAM

American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference

On Tuesday, May 8, Roger Schonfeld and Liam Sweeney are presenting on the case studies in museum diversity at the American Alliance of Museums Annual Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. They will be joined by Nicole Ivy, the director of inclusion at the American Alliance of Museums. For more information and to register, please see the AAM website. About the program: Several case studies were conducted as a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2015 Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey funded…
Blog Post
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…
Case Study
January 23, 2018

Reflecting Los Angeles, Decentralized and Global

Los Angeles County Museum of Art

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art is distinguishable from other US encyclopedic museums in three aspects: it is the largest North American art museum west of the Mississippi; it is the youngest encyclopedic museum in the United States; and it is situated in one of the most ethnically diverse metropolises in the world. These characteristics interact in a number of meaningful ways under the museum’s current leadership, allowing its local and global ambitions to complement one another. LACMA is…
Case Study
January 23, 2018

Pipelines and Inroads

The Andy Warhol Museum

Front façade of The Andy Warhol Museum. Photo by Abby Warhola. The Andy Warhol Museum fits within a simple narrative at first glance—the largest single-artist museum in North America devoted to presenting and circulating globally the most complete collection of Warhol’s work. In fact, Andy Warhol’s legacy lends itself to the plurality of narratives and identities embodied in the museum. For many of the museum’s visitors, the seven-story prewar industrial building has become a place of pilgrimage, a destination…
Case Study
January 23, 2018

“I Recommend Dancing”

Brooklyn Museum’s History of Inclusion and Moment of Transition

Brooklyn Museum Façade Photo by Brittney Najar The Brooklyn Museum has pursued a number of unconventional directions to address its community’s current and emerging needs. It practices a contemporary approach to its encyclopedic collection, allowing intersectional feminist theory and critical race theory, for instance, to inform and problematize ancient works. It has opted for accessibility rather than grandeur in its facade. Many Brooklyn residents are introduced to it through its crowded Saturday night parties, rather than its substantial collections of…
Case Study
January 23, 2018

An Engine for Diversity

Studio Museum in Harlem

The Studio Museum in Harlem is a contemporary, culturally specific, artist-centric museum located in New York City that has played a singular role in defining and promoting the art of African Americans and the African diaspora. The museum has contributed substantially in bringing this art into the canon and equally in providing opportunities for African Americans to gain access to the cultural sector, especially for artists and curators. Through its collections, program, and employees, the Studio Museum’s impact has come…
Blog Post
October 5, 2017

Lessons from Save America’s Treasures

New Report Provides Case Studies of 21 SAT Grantees

Every now and again it is useful to take a look at past programs and reflect on what we learned. I had the great pleasure of working on such a project over the last several months. The American Architectural Foundation asked us to assist with an evaluation of the Save America’s Treasures project that was funded by the federal government from 1999-2010 through the National Park Service and its partner agencies, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment…