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Topic: Museums

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, DIA…
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

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…
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…
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…
Research Report
October 5, 2017

Save America’s Treasures: Impact and Lessons

As part of the National Historic Preservation Fund, Save America’s Treasures awarded nearly 500 grants between 1999 and 2010 through the National Park Service, National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to preserve collections that embody the American story. The collections contain major parts of the nation’s artistic, social, and intellectual history.  The impact of these grants has not been assessed in any comprehensive way, and one of the…
Blog Post
April 12, 2017

Forthcoming Case Studies of Eight Art Museums

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…
Blog Post
February 22, 2017

Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity in Art Museums

Learning from the Community

How diverse are America’s art museums? In terms of one measure—employee demographics—not very. A 2014 study, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and undertaken by Ithaka S+R in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), showed that the field is much more homogenous with respect to race and ethnicity than the nation as a whole. While these findings have…
Blog Post
January 31, 2017

Dataset for DCLA Diversity Survey Available at the National Archive of Data on Arts & Culture

In 2015, Ithaka S+R partnered with New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs to conduct a survey to measure the demographics of the city’s cultural sector. The report of findings was published in January 2016, and is available on our website. Recently, the data used for this report has been made available in an anonymized form through a new national initiative toward archiving data in the arts. The survey of New York City’s Department of Cultural Affairs grantees…