In recent years, American art museums have faced a complex set of institutional demands, from scrutiny over ethical issues concerning donor relations, to hiring practices and efforts towards making the museum more accessible to the public. At the same time, museums enjoy a high level of public trust at a time when most American institutions are actively mistrusted. The sector produces over 700,000 jobs, adding over $50 billion to the U.S. GDP. Given this landscape, are art museums structured in ways that enable them to best realize their goals?
To answer this question, Ithaka S+R partnered with the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) to examine the organizational structure and institutional strategy within the association’s membership. In order to do this, we collected roughly 80 organizational charts, and after thoroughly analyzing them, conducted interviews with 17 museum directors representing a variety of institution types.
Our findings reveal insights into the ways in which museums adapt in order to realize their goals of growth and community engagement. From organizing senior leadership groups, to interdepartmental conflicts, these 17 directors provided a glimpse into the ways in which art museums are responding to the challenges and opportunities of our current moment.