Foundations Award $4 Million to Diversify Museum Leadership, Boards

Foundations Award $4 Million to Diversify Museum Leadership, Boards

The American Alliance of Museums has announced grants totaling $4 million from the Andrew W. MellonAlice L. Walton, and Ford foundations for a new initiative aimed at diversifying museum leadership and boards.

The largest grant in AAM's 113-year history will fund Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion, a three-year initiative that will provide a framework, training, and resources needed to help museums build organizational cultures that more accurately reflect the communities they serve. A 2017 survey conducted by AAM and BoardSource revealed that 46 percent of museum boards are entirely white, and while 77 percent of museum directors believe that increasing the racial and ethnic diversity of their boards is important, only 10 percent of museum boards have developed a plan of action to make themselves more inclusive. 

Among other things, the initiative will support efforts to establish fieldwide standards and programs aimed at advancing excellence in diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion; advance inclusive leadership development at fifty museums in five cities across the United States; create an online resource center featuring case studies, sample documents, and customized content; and provide "board matching" resources to help connect individuals interested in serving on museum boards with museums seeking new talent and perspectives.

"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 AAM president and CEO Laura Lott. "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."