Walton Foundation commits $3 million to foster diversity in museum leadership nationwide

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 298 views 

The Walton Family Foundation of Bentonville and the Ford Foundation of New York City each have pledged $3 million over three years for a joint effort to address the issue of diversity in museum leadership nationwide through the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, according to a press release from the Ford Foundation.

Representation of minority groups among museum staff, and especially leadership, is not in proportion with population demographics, according to a 2015 study from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. It shows 16% of museum leaders, curators, conservators and educators identify themselves as Asian, Black, Hispanic or multi-racial. Meanwhile, those groups make up 38% of the general population.

According to the Ford Foundation, the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative will “support innovative strategies and programs to advance diversity across the sector, including hiring professionals from under-represented populations and offering fellowships, mentorships and other career development options for diverse professionals.”

Walton Foundation board member Alice Walton, also founder and board chair of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, said in the press release: “For museums to be truly inviting public spaces, they must better reflect the communities they serve. Achieving diversity requires a deeper commitment: to hire and nurture leaders from all backgrounds. This initiative creates the opportunity for museums to build a more inclusive culture within their institutions.”

Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, expressed the benefit diversity brings.

“The arts play an essential role in our society by inspiring people of all ages to dream and to imagine new possibilities for themselves, their communities, and the world. To ensure the future health and vibrancy of the arts in America, we need more arts leaders who understand and relate to the deeply varied perspectives and life experiences that weave the rich fabric of our nation,” he said, according to the press release.

The initiative will fund 20 programs at institutions throughout the country. A list follows.

  • Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, for a multi-tiered pipeline project including a youth outreach program, internships, and alumni and mentoring programs.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago, to expand the museum’s internship programs, and provide mentorship and leadership training for staff.
  • Clark Atlanta University Art Museum and Zuckerman Museum of Art at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, for shared post-baccalaureate fellowships.
  • Cleveland Museum of Art, for a Curatorial Arts Mastery program, career apprenticeships for undergraduate students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and research fellowships.
  • Fisk University Galleries in Nashville, to develop a new two-year undergraduate museum leadership development certificate program at the university.
  • Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, N.H., to support an associate curator, postdoctoral fellow, and undergraduate intern focused on Native American art.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, for a teen leadership program, museum internships, and post-graduate curatorial fellowships.
  • Pérez Art Museum Miami, for a post-baccalaureate curatorial fellowship to curate exhibitions based on the museum’s permanent collection.
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art, to support two-year baccalaureate fellowships to work with the director and head of curatorial affairs
  • Minneapolis Institute of Art, to expand the Native American Fellowship Program and support fellowships for students from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara in California, to support internships and professional development training for staff and junior curators.
  • National Museum of Mexican Art and DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago, for joint curatorial fellowships, teen workshops, and a mentorship program.
  • New Orleans Museum of Art, to support internships for students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
  • Newark Museum of Art in Newark, N.J., for an intensive three-year internship program for undergraduate students.
  • Oakland Museum of California, to support a three-year summer internship, cohort-learning, and leadership development program for undergraduate and graduate level students.
  • Phoenix Art Museum, for an annual teen art council, internships for undergraduate and graduate students, and curatorial fellowships focused on Latinx art.
  • Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, N.C., for post-baccalaureate fellowships, undergraduate internships, and cultural competency and unconscious bias trainings for staff.
  • Louis Art Museum, to sustain, evaluate, and disseminate lessons from its Romare Bearden Minority Museum Fellowship program.
  • The Studio Museum in Harlem in New York City, for high school, college, and graduate internships, trainings for museum educators, professional development, and a curatorial fellowships partnership with the Museum of Modern Art.
  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle, for professional development for the museum’s junior staff, paid internships for high school and college students, and a young artist development program.