U.S. Museum Group Will Implement DEI Standards for Members

The American Alliance of Museums, a U.S. group that governs museum regulations, will revise diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion requirements for museum workforces for the first time in two decades (DEAI).

The museum organisation has elaborate plans for launching a new endeavour to implement the criteria. Over the course of the next three years, the organisation will appoint a six-to-eight-member advisory team comprised of museum professionals to draught the new DEAI criteria. The effort is supported by a $740,000 government grant granted by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the group stated in a statement.

The statement follows the AAM’s August publication of a report on DEAI concerns in the museum sector. The report was published as part of “Facing Change: Advancing Museum Board Diversity and Inclusion,” a research and hiring programme that includes the August appointment of anthropologist Johnnetta Betsch Cole as the organization’s senior diversity fellow. Cole was selected to carry out the five-year DEI effort of the AAM.

U.S. Museum Group Will Implement DEI Standards for Members

2005 was the last time the organisation released an update to the criteria that apply to its member institutions, mandating greater financial disclosure transparency.

Not yet specified is how these requirements will be applied to the organization’s accreditation process. According to the institution, the move is part of an “effort to produce more fair outcomes in all museum structures and programmes.”

The paper, created by a DEI task committee comprised of specialists from the Smithsonian Institution and the Ford Foundation, was designed to serve as the “foundation” for DEAI as museum standards. The study follows AAM’s 2019 receiving of a $4 million grant from a cross-foundation to fund DEAI.

In 2020, cultural institutions came under pressure to further DEAI programmes in the wake of a nationwide protest movement over racial injustices sparked by the murder of George Floyd. In 2017, the AAM produced a report demonstrating the depth of racial disparities in museum governance, revealing that over half of all museum boards in the United States were composed entirely of white individuals.

Since then, an increasing number of inclusive museum posts have been created. The Seattle Art Museum, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art have all established full-time DEI-focused positions.