Museums Grow More Diverse, But Change is Uneven

Museums Grow More Diverse, But Change is Uneven

January 28, 2019 | ITHAKA | NEWS

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 diversifying several key employee categories, other departments in museums have not made very much progress on increasing employee diversity in the last four years.

Some select findings from the report are highlighted below:

  • Museum leadership positions have grown more female since 2015
  • Curators become more male as they assume management roles
  • Recent hiring patterns show a growing share of people of color. This holds true for  people of color in intellectual leadership positions (defined for the purposes of this project as curators, conservators, educators, and museum leadership)
  • Within that category, curator and educator roles have grown more diverse; conservators and museum leaders have changed less

This  composition of the art museum field is changing over time, but clearly has not yet reached anything close to levels we can call representative of the US population. For those interested in some of the practices they might consider adopting to drive change more determinedly, it is imperative to move beyond numbers and study the internal culture and structures of the institution. For recommendations that have emerged from qualitative research examining the ways that relatively diverse museums work towards improving equity, diversity and inclusion among their staff, audience, program, and trustees, as well as community engagement and audience development, please see our report from last fall: Interrogating Institutional Practices in Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

 

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