As museums across the US seek to diversify their audiences, the High offers a valuable case study.
Visitors in front of a work by Anish Kapoor. Photo courtesy of the High Museum of Art.
It’s a fact the art world has long known: Museums in the US have a diversity problem.
The demographics of museum audiences and staff are wildly out of step with the country’s population. According to a survey conducted in 2010 by Reach Advisors—the most recent comprehensive study available—museum- and gallery-goers in the US are 89 percent white. That’s significantly more than the US population in 2010 (72 percent white) and vastly more than the US population today (62.6 percent—and dropping).
Most museums understand that in order to remain relevant, they will have to find a way to diversify their audiences. But many have not figured out how—or made it enough of a priority.