For Immediate Release
May 1, 2018
ARLINGTON, VA – The American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the only organization representing the entire scope of the museum community, today released a first-of-its-kind report, Facing Change, that sets a framework for priorities and programs on diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI). The product of a 21-member working group of DEAI leaders across the museum field, the report provides qualitative data, along with a shared vocabulary and a set of basic principles, to guide museums in their DEAI efforts.
“Providing thought leadership and inspiring action for the museum field on a subject as important as diversity is crucial for our members,” said Laura Lott, president and CEO of the Alliance, who co-chaired the working group with Dr. Johnnetta Betsch Cole, senior consulting fellow with The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and principal consultant with diversity and inclusion consulting firm Cook Ross. Cole previously served for eight years as the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art and delivered an inspirational keynote address at AAM’s 2015 Annual Meeting in Atlanta, where she emphasized the strong linkage between diversity and the social value of museums.
The report is centered around five insights about the key components of effective museum DEAI work, along with specific calls to action and suggested resources for museum professionals who want to advance these discussions in their own institutions. Those insights are:
- Every museum professional must do personal work to face their unconscious bias
- Debate on definitions must not hinder progress
- Inclusion is central to the effectiveness and sustainability of museums
- Systemic change is vital to long-term, genuine progress
- Empowered, inclusive leadership is essential at all levels of an organization
“The need for seeking and sustaining diversity in your museums has never been greater,” said Cole. “If we are to be relevant in this ever-changing world, to stay artistically and financially viable, all of our museums must boldly—indeed, bodaciously—commit to rethinking about what takes place in our museums, to whom our museums belong and who the colleagues are who have the privilege of telling important stories through the power of science, history, culture and art.”
“The working group decided early on to set its sights on the tough questions,” said Dr. Nicole Ivy, the Alliance’s director of inclusion, “and we agreed that money and time are immense barriers to inclusion. We took these challenges into account as we concretized our five key insights, ensuring that they are applicable to museums of all sizes, types, and budgets.”
In addition to the co-chairs, the working group included:
- Christine Anagnos, Association of Art Museum Directors
- Dina Bailey, Mountain Top Vision and American Association for State and Local History
- Brian Carter, Association of African American Museums
- Dr. Robert M. Davis, Museum Consultant and AAM Board Member
- Eduardo Díaz, Smithsonian Latino Center and AAM Board Member
- Omar Eaton-Martinez, National Museum of American History
- Dr. Nicole Ivy, American Alliance of Museums
- Brooke Leonard, American Alliance of Museums
- Mike Lesperance, The Design Minds and AAM LGBTQ Alliance
- Dr. Tonya Matthews, Michigan Science Center and AAM Board Member
- Laura Huerta Migus, Association of Children’s Museums
- Machel Monenerkit, National Museum of the American Indian
- Monica Montgomery, Museum Hue
- Dr. Porchia Moore, Columbia Museum of Art
- Lisa Sasaki, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
- Cecile Shellman, Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and AAM Diversity Committee (DivCom)
- Kathy Dwyer Southern, The George Washington University
- Chris Taylor, Minnesota Historical Society
- Beth Ziebarth, Smithsonian Institution Accessibility Programs
Ivy and the working group members will present a session titled “Beyond Diversity” May 6 at the Alliance’s 2018 Annual Meeting & MuseumExpo in Phoenix. The group will share how they’ve implemented the report’s insights and reflect on the process of defining DEAI.
The Alliance strategic plan emphasizes DEAI in all aspects of museum structure and programming─in their exhibitions and programs, in their staff and boards, and most importantly in the communities they serve.
About the American Alliance of Museums
The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit www.aam-us.org.
Director, Public Relations
American Alliance of Museums