Lauren Haynes, new contemporary art curator at Crystal Bridges.

The Ford Foundation
and the Walton Family Foundation announced yesterday that they are committing $3 million each — a total of $6 million — to a new program, the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative, to increase minority numbers in curatorial and administrative museum staff.

Twenty museums have been selected for the initiative, which will include hiring minority professionals, creating educational fellowships, apprenticeships, encouraging strategies to diversify staff and other programs.


A news release from the Ford Foundation cited an Andrew W. Mellow Foundation study that found that only 16 percent of art museum leadership jobs are held by people of color. That’s out of whack with American demographics: 38 percent of Americans identify as non-white or multiracial. The $6 million will be awarded over three years.

The Ford release quotes Alice Walton, founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville:


“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.” 

The 20 museums who will receive funding include the Andy Warhol Museum;  the Art Institute of Chicago; Clark Atlanta University Art Museum; the Cleveland Museum of Art; Fisk University Galleries, with which Crystal Bridges shares a collection; the Hood Museum of Art in Hanover, N.H.; the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston; the Perez Art Museum in Miami; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Minneapolis Institute of Art; the Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara;


the National Museum of Mexican Art and DuSable Museum of African American History in Chicago; the New Orleans Museum of Art; the Newark Museum of Art; the Oakland Museum of California; the Phoenix Art Museum;  the Reynolda House Museum of American Art; the Saint Louis Art Museum; the Studio Museum in Harlem; and the Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience in Seattle. Find out how each institution will use the money at the Ford Foundation link above.

Crystal Bridges’ curator of contemporary art, Lauren Haynes, came to the museum from the Studio Museum.