Diversity, Equity, Accessibility and Inclusion

Museums are a vital part of how we tell the stories of who we are, who we’ve been, and how we will live together. They maintain our cultural heritage and teach us about all the ways we are different and the same. Reflecting the diversity of that heritage is a critical part of museums’ work. We cannot claim to be truly essential to society if we are not accessible to all.

The Alliance highlights diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion as a key focus area in its current strategic plan. We believe that equity is our goal, inclusion is how we move toward that goal, and diversity describes the breadth of our experiences and perspectives.

Facing Change: Insights from AAM’s DEAI Working Group

Facing Change Report Cover: A man looks into they eyes of a woman facing him with the text, "Facing Change" between them

In spring 2017, following its strategic plan, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) convened the Working Group on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion (DEAI). Twenty museum professionals, representing a variety of disciplines, organizational sizes and types, and perspectives, came together monthly at the Alliance’s offices in Arlington, Virginia, and once at the 2017 AAM Annual Meeting in St. Louis, Missouri. For six months, this group examined the characteristics of effective museum inclusion practices and considered what steps the field could take to promote DEAI.

Download the report now to gain insights from the working group’s conversations about big-picture ideas and specific examples from their collective experiences.


Approved by the Alliance Board of Directors, February 26, 2014

Diversity and Inclusion Policy Statement

The American Alliance of Museums respects, values and celebrates the unique attributes, characteristics and perspectives that make each person who they are. We believe that our strength lies in our diversity among the broad range of people and museums we represent. We consider diversity and inclusion a driver of institutional excellence and seek out diversity of participation, thought and action. It is our aim, therefore, that our members, partners, key stakeholders reflect and embrace these core values.

Diversity and Inclusion Framework

AAM strives to support the museum field through its leadership by providing the best resources to enable a positive impact on local and global communities. By modeling excellence around diversity and inclusion, AAM is better situated to respond to the unique needs of the museums it represents within three categories:

Human Capital

It is important to support and nurture the governing board, staff and volunteers by creating positive workplace environments and structures that enable them to be engaged in their jobs and to challenge them appropriately to support growth.

Key Stakeholders

Individuals, organizations and corporations of all types have the potential to offer insight and expertise on a broad range of strategies related to diversity and inclusion initiatives. We are committed to working collaboratively with key stakeholders locally, statewide, nationally and internationally to strengthen the integrity, impact and relevance of museums.

Programs and Resources

The Alliance strives to leverage its programs, products and services to enhance the museum field and its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion for the museum field at-large with an emphasis on:

  • Standards and Best Practices
  • Career Pipeline
  • Professional Development
  • Research and Data Collection

Approaches for Our Work

To support the expansion of DEAI in the museum field, the Alliance endeavors to:

  • Integrate diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion into AAM’s practices, procedures, and programs by expanding diverse leadership within AAM’s board, staff, and volunteers; pursuing inclusivity and cultural competency through substantive learning and transparent policies; and modeling best practices.
  • Build awareness in the field by continuously drawing attention to the rationale, the opportunities, and the inspiration for museum leadership to pay attention and proactively address these issues.
  • Offer professional development opportunities and resources to help museum professionals develop the skills and find the tools/resources to diversify their hiring practices and board recruitment, collections, and programs; and to be more inclusive and accessible in their operations, structure, and programming.
  • Provide and celebrate case studies and tangible examples of best and next practices for inspiration and tactical ideas that museums can adapt for their own institutions/communities.
  • Support the field in its self-regulatory approach to museum excellence as it relates to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility—including serving as a platform for discussion/debate about what museums should do and require of themselves as well as providing self-assessment tools and better ways to measure the existing standards that address diversity and inclusivity.

Read about Inclusion in Museums

Access and read articles from across the field that highlight the issues of Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion.

Resources to support the work of Inclusion

Need practical tips and tools to advance your work on Diversity, Equity, Accessibility, and Inclusion? Check-out our DEAI Resource Page from the Information Center.

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