Initiative Aims to Diversify America’s Museum Leadership

By Sameer Rao Jan 17, 2019

The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) announced a new initiative on Tuesday (January 15) that seeks to change the demographics of its members. The museum advocacy organization received $4 million in grants from the Andrew W. Mellon, Alice L. Walton and Ford Foundations to launch Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion. The three-year program seeks to diversify the governing boards of museums via several strategies, including:


  • New programs to implement equity-focused standards
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  • Concerted and inclusive leadership development for 50 museums
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  • A matching program to connect prospective board members from marginalized groups with museums seeking new trustees
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“To make real and lasting change, work needs to be done at the top where the tone and priorities for each museum are established,” AAM president Laura Lott says in the statement. “Museum trustees and leaders can and must do more."

Facing Change shares its name with a 2017 report from AAM’s Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility Working Group. The document recommended several of the interventions included in the new initiative. It also references another AAM assessment from 2017, which found that 89.3 percent of all museum trustees are White. That statistic includes members of entirely White boards, which the study found represent 46 percent of the sector’s governing bodies.