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American Alliance of Museums Launches $4 Million Diversity Initiative

Above: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a member of the American Alliance of Museums.
Above: The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, a member of the American Alliance of Museums.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), an organization with more than four thousand members, announced that it has established a new $4 million initiative that will focus on “diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion work” and will aim to diversify boards at museums across the US.

Backed by funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Alice L. Walton Foundation, and the Ford Foundation, the “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion” initiative will provide training and resources to institutions over the course of the next three years to help them better reflect the communities they serve.

“To make real and lasting change, work needs to be done at the top where the tone and priorities for each museum are established,” said Laura Lott, AAM’s president and CEO. “Museum trustees and leaders can and must do more. Complementing the hard work and investments being made to diversify the talent pool, programming, and collections of museums, AAM aims to drive long-lasting systemic culture change. Thanks to the leadership, courage, and generosity of our three partner foundations, we will work steadfastly to sharpen the focus on museum boards and directors as agents of this vital change.”

In 2017, AAM and BoardSource collaborated on a survey that revealed that nearly 46 percent of museum boards are white. 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.

In order to help these museums implement systemic change, the initiative will develop industry-wide standards on how to advance diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; provide inclusion plans tailored to the needs of fifty museums, to be selected at a later date; create an online resource center; and help match individuals looking to serve on boards with museums.

“Arts institutions are most effective when they build relationships with the local community that anchors them as well as the global communities that visit them,” said Alice Walton, philanthropist and founder of the Alice L. Walton Foundation. “The effort to build community is strengthened when diversity, equity, and inclusion are fully realized within institutional leadership, and this initiative provides the tools and resources necessary to do so.”

January 22, 2019