The American Alliance of Museums has announced a multimillion-dollar initiative to diversify museum leadership across the country.
The project, “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion,” will be supported by $4 million in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alice L. Walton Foundation and the Ford Foundation.
The three-year grant is the largest in AAM’s 113-year history and will fund diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work starting this year.
A 2015 national study by the Mellon Foundation found that people of color held 16 percent of leadership positions at art museums while 38 percent of Americans identified as Asian, black, Hispanic or multiracial at the time. It also found that 77 percent of museum leadership members believe expanding the racial and ethnic diversity of their boards is essential for their institutions. However, only 10 percent of museums have a plan of action in place.
The conversation on diversity and inclusion has been weaving its way through initiatives and dialogues for decades. All of that has led to this moment in which this topic can be the purpose of a project, rather than an add-on or sub-theme. Furthermore, these conversations have moved from the lunch counters to the boardrooms—and we should all be excited about these times.Dr. Tonya Matthews
The alliance hopes to bring about systemic change by introducing diversity standards across the field, leadership development for 50 museums in five cities (which have not yet been named), an online resource center and a program that matches individuals with museum boards.
“Facing Change” falls in line with other recent efforts to address racial disparity in the museum sector. In 2017, the Walton Family Foundation and the Ford Foundation donated $6 million over three years to support 20 programs that aim to help art museums nationwide with diversity among curators and top management.