Redoubling Our Commitment to Museums and the Arts

Redoubling Our Commitment to Museums and the Arts

January 09, 2019 | ITHAKA | NEWS

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 Museums (AAM) to drive forward diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility for art museums. We analyzed the diversity of art museum employees several years ago, explored how museums are working to improve, and later this month will release an assessment of museums’ progress on employee diversity.

Many of our other major projects have touched on digital strategy. For example, we have examined how to improve research support for art historians, including curators, as content and sources are increasingly available online. We have examined the business models of a number of digital initiatives within museums. And, we have provided strategic advisory services to a museum collection management platform.

In 2019, we have several major projects underway focused on museum strategy and leadership broadly. We have been working with AAMD to examine the organizational structure of art museums. In this project, after reviewing the organizational charts of more than 75 art museums, we conducted interviews with nearly 20 museum directors about the factors that determine their structure. We will be publishing our results and helping museums leaders learn from the findings beginning this spring. We are so grateful to AAMD for the opportunity to partner on this important project.

And, I am pleased to announce that Mellon has funded a new study of how libraries and museums connect with one another within higher education institutions. We will be looking at the governance, funding, budgeting, and reporting lines across for the libraries and museums in a variety of colleges and universities. In typical cases, current structures are generationally inherited and idiosyncratically evolved – rather than intentionally designed. It is our hope through this new research project that we will help college and university leaders become more intentional in thinking about how, if at all, they would like to see museums and libraries interconnected with  one another to further maximize the use of primary source materials in teaching and research. We are so grateful to Mellon for its support of our work in this area.

To lead all this work, and further establish Ithaka S+R’s ability to serve the museums and arts community, we are launching a search for a new associate director. This individual will be responsible for our strategic directions, community engagement, business development, and our growing portfolio of advisory services and research projects. The position is an absolutely unique opportunity to shape a community wide strategic agenda to advance museums and the arts. The job description and application instructions are now available, and I am available to speak to interested individuals informally as well.

In addition, Liam Sweeney, my colleague who has contributed to most of our recent museum projects, has just been promoted to senior analyst and will continue to serve as a member of the museums team.

As you can see, Ithaka S+R is building capacity and dedicating additional resources to further support communities of practice for museums and the arts more broadly. As 2019 dawns, we are redoubling our efforts, and there is much more to come. We look forward to working in partnership with you to support these vital efforts.

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