The Future of Museum Diversity Starts With You

The America we know is not the America we knew, nor will it be the America we will know in the future. Increasing immigration throughout the United States has led to rapidly changing racial demographics and a shift in attitude towards cultural assimilation. As America heads to a majority minority country, museums are feeling the heat to reevaluate their practices in order to stay relevant in this rapidly changing society.

Anna Huntley, an Exhibitions Project Manager at the Field Museum, suggested that museums can stay significant by integrating diversity into all aspects of their institution. Staying present in the story being told helps her to balance the content matter and cultural pluralism of the Chicago community she serves. But what about the diversity of the staff?

The Center of the Future of Museums recently estimated that only 20% of museum employees are minorities – 80% being white and 80% being female. As I look around at my classmates I realize more and more of the reality of those statistics. How can the museum world hope to entice a more racially diverse audience when we are limited in our points of view? The Center for the Future of Museums suggests a few ways to invest in the diversity of the field.

–       Increase awareness of museum careers

–       Recruit more diverse students into museum studies programs

–       Invest in the continued education of bright, innovative individuals

How can you help to support the continued growth of our field? Is there a program, exhibit, or lecture series aimed at a diverse set of future professionals that you could contribute?

Sources:

-Interview with Anna Huntley, Exhibitions Project Manager, The Field Museum, October 12, 2011.

-Betty Farrell and Maria Medvedeva, Demographic Transformation and the Future of Museums (American Association of Museums, Center for the Future of Museums) 2010.

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About catebay

Informal educator working in the world of art. Interests in public programming and community advocacy. Loves learning about people, collecting blue mason jars, and consuming Swedish fish.
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3 Responses to The Future of Museum Diversity Starts With You

  1. These are excellent questions. I would like to add two more. As an entry-level professional what can you do in the community and programmatically to support diversity? What can you do as a graduate student?

  2. haleyg4 says:

    A changing demographic is an inevitable force that we are museum professionals will have to deal with. While it may be simple, I hope that regardless of where I go in the field in the future, I can bring the voice of the groups in the area. A general awareness is the first step in bringing the stories of the community into the museum and an understanding their narratives can make better programs and better museums. Speaking up for these groups at any meeting or discussion is needed.This may bridge the gap that is slowly closing with discussions like these.

  3. catebay says:

    Another question I have been pondering – what does diversity mean to a town like Cooperstown? How do we redevelop our perceptions of diversity to fit the unique needs of our community? How, as Cooperstown Graduate students, can we support and encourage diversity in our professional careers?

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