Foundations Announce $11 Million Initiative to Diversify Museum Leadership

Four major funders—the Alice L. Walton Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and Pilot House Philanthropy—today drew back the veil on a new program aimed at increasing racial equity in top-level positions at museums across the United States. The freshly minted Leadership in Art Museums (LAM) initiative will receive $11 million in funding over the next five years from the four founding organizations. Among the roles LAM hopes to foster diversity across are those of curator, conservator, collections manager, community engagement staff, and educator.

The creation of LAM was inspired in part by the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership (DAMLI) project and the fledgling Black Trustee Alliance for Art Museums, and by a number of Mellon Foundation studies. The foundation’s most recent Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey found that Black, Latinx, Indigenous, Arab, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other people of color were greatly underrepresented in institutional leadership positions, with just 20 percent of those in museum leadership roles and 2 percent of conservation staff identifying as nonwhite. (Upper-echelon hiring trends showed encouraging, if slow, progress 2021 and 2022.) By increasing high-level opportunities for people of color, LAM hopes to eventually diversify museum collections. A 2019 survey revealed that just 1.2 percent of works in all major US arts institutions were created by Black artists, 2.8 percent by Hispanic and Latinx artists, and 9 percent by Asian artists.

“Ultimately, the future of museums depends on their ability to stay relevant and serve their communities,” said Alice Walton, founder of her namesake organization, in a statement. “The LAM museums represent a variety of regions across the US, and help ensure that we’re increasing access to museum roles in a way that’s inclusive of communities of color, no matter where the art institution is based. With this dedicated group of funding partners, we’re united in our commitment to achieve long-lasting impact.”


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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo

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