How Far Have We Come? Measuring Art Museum Staff Diversity in 2022

back view of museum visitor in pink jacket and pink wig looking towards gallery wall Photo: Trunk Archive

A new effort will engage up to 900 museums across the US to measure progress in diversifying the field's ethnic, racial, and gender demographics.

For Museum Staff

Access instructions and further information on how to complete the survey:
Art Museum Staff Demographic Cycle 3 Updates from Ithaka S+R

Deadline for the Museum Directors Survey is April 1, 2022. 

Today, we are excited to announce that the 2022 Art Museum Staff Demographic Survey is now open, marking the third cycle in our partnership-driven effort to measure the demographics of art museum staff across the US.

Before the racial reckoning provoked by events in 2020 and “The Great Resignation” that has followed, Mellon and field leaders have maintained a steady focus on representation and inclusion in America’s art museums. 

This focus began with a widely-shared perception that job hires for the positions most directly responsible for presenting, interpreting, and caring for art objects from cultures around the world do not reflect the full diversity of the US—a nation where the current census predicts the population will no longer have a white majority by 2045. 

In 2014 and 2018, Mellon partnered with Ithaka S+R, the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) to develop a survey that would look closer at art museum diversity through the most comprehensive collection of the field’s ethnic, racial, and gender demographics to date.

At a high level, the study has revealed meaningful progress toward the full representation of women and people of color in a number of different museum functions. Nevertheless, the data also shows that progress has been uneven. While trends in recent hiring are encouraging, certain parts of the museum appear not as quick to change, especially the most senior leadership positions. More than a marker of progress to date, this data serves as a tool for the future—whether quantifying the challenges we still face, establishing a baseline against which to measure impact, or equipping museums with the insight they need to structure and implement pipeline-building programs.  

Already, initiatives like the Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship program—which was awarded $3,250,000 in September 2017—are helping diversify the curatorial ranks in museums across America, and can serve as a model for even bolder initiatives to come, especially as a picture of the field’s diversity continues to come into focus. 

Launching this week, the 2022 survey will be completed by museums across the country, many of which are AAMD or AAM members. On the heels of significant workplace changes triggered by the pandemic and a deeper, long overdue public recognition of institutionalized racism, survey participation has never been more urgent and appreciated than it is now.

With a goal of engaging up to 900 art museums, the survey will collect demographic information of museum staff in February followed by that of museum directors in March. As in previous years, the results will be analyzed by Ithaka S+R, articulated in a comprehensive report, and released to the public for use across the field.