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From the President and CEO: Equity and Excellence

Category: Museum Magazine

This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of Museum magazinea benefit of AAM membership.


Like society at large, the museum field is at a pivotal moment of reflection and rebuilding. As the collective museum community, our choices in the coming months and years about what and how to rebuild will set our field’s course for decades. It is a time for deep introspection, active and inclusive listening, and bold steps to help build a more just and equitable world.

AAM is poised to bring the broad museum field together, inspire leadership at all levels, rebuild a strong and sustainable sector, and ensure AAM’s programs and operations model our values. Informed by you—our valued members—the 2022–2025 Strategic Framework will guide our next steps and the future of our field by focusing on four priorities: Social & Community Impact; Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI) & Anti-racism; The Museum Community; and The Way We Work.

In our Audience Survey of over 7,000 people last spring, you told us that you care most about contributing to community building, learning, and supporting people in becoming better world citizens. You care about transforming museums into more equitable and just places. And you look to AAM to provide the leadership, professional development, and connections to fellow professionals to help you advance these goals.

We are humbled by the opportunity to serve you in this way—and excited by our important and refreshed mission to “champion equitable and impactful museums by connecting people, fostering learning and community, and nurturing museum excellence.”

What does excellence in museums mean in 2022 and beyond? What steps should we take to ensure that an excellent museum is synonymous with an equitable one? What does social and community impact look like in excellent museums?

In the years ahead, we will work with Alliance members to answer these questions, review the Accreditation and Excellence Programs, and embed DEAI into every aspect of them, from the Code of Ethics for Museums to the peer-reviewer site visits for the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) and Accreditation.

In this issue of Museum magazine, you’ll find an article from AAM Senior Director of Equity and Culture Andrew Plumley introducing our capstone report, Excellence in DEAI. The report expands on the recommendations from our Excellence in DEAI Task Force, a component of Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity & Inclusion led by Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch and Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Museum Center. It begins to establish a set of core concepts for excellence in DEAI work. The report identifies key indicators—measures of success—for each core concept that can help you benchmark your museum’s work and measure progress. These core concepts and key indicators allow museums to approach DEAI work from many angles based on their needs, resources, and entry points while giving our field a common language to support our ability to share, learn, and move forward together.

There is much work left to be done and many opportunities to get involved. Join us in continuing to take steps toward a more equitable and excellent museum field.

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