DIVERSITY THROUGH THE MUSEUM LENS: A STUDY EXAMINING THE HIRING PRACTICES OF MUSEUMS IN THE UNITED STATES AND HOW THAT RELATES TO STAFF DIVERSITY
By: Alysha N. Dixon
Published: 05/01/2015
Uploaded: 05/12/2015
Uploaded by: Arts Administration Program
Pockets: Arts Administration, Arts Administration Program Theses, Visual Arts, Museums, Crafts, ARAD Theses: Fall 2013 to Spring 2015
Tags: diversity, museums, recruitment, Staff

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Description/Abstract: The museum in the United States has its roots in elitist principles beginning in urban culture centers like Boston, MA, and New York City, NY. Originally built to serve the public, the museum had evolved into an organization that upheld upper-class ideals and aesthetic standards. However, since the 1970s there has been a dynamic shift within these cultural organizations to no longer be a place for the upper-middle class but to become an accessible populist structure. In its efforts to become more approachable numerous associations (like the American Alliance of Museums, which focused on the financial and cultural sustainability of museums) introduced diversity initiatives. There was a realization that in order for the museum to be perceived as accessible, the staff should mirror its surrounding community. These programs had an impact on how museums proceeded with recruiting and hiring employees. This study focuses specifically on three museums in the northeastern region of the United States, the opinions of two experts on museum diversity, and the strategies they are using to diversify their staff. It also addresses the internal operations of these institutions and analyzes the ways in which various policies and team-building activities can foster a community that is respectful to individuals coming from a variety of different backgrounds.