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Survey Gives a Comprehensive Picture of Diversity in American Art Museums

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Aug 10, 2015

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in partnership with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), has announced the results of the first comprehensive survey to assess the ethnic and gender diversity of the staffs of art museums across the United States. Overall, the data suggests that gender equality is on the rise while barriers to leadership for minorities continue to inhibit diversity at the executive level.

Some of the major findings of the research include:

  • Women now comprise some 60 percent of museum staffs, with a preponderance of women in the curatorial, conservation, and education roles that can be a pipeline toward leadership positions.
  • Although 28 percent of museum staffs are from minority backgrounds, the great majority of these workers are concentrated in security, facilities, finance, and human resources jobs. Among museum curators, conservators, educators, and leaders, only 4 percent are African American and 3 percent Hispanic.


"Both the relative underrepresentation of people of color on art museum staffs and the preponderance of men in museum leadership positions are well known phenomena," said Mariët Westermann, vice president of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. “With this new body of information, we can point to pathways for diversifying museum leadership and the positions that shape museums as venues of research and lifelong education."

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