Report finds lack of diversity in curators at Major Partner Museums

Independent report published by ACE recommends new approaches
Patrick Steel
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An independent report by the Museum Consultancy, commissioned by Arts Council England (ACE), has found that curators, exhibition staff and collections care specialists in Major Partner Museums (MPM) “appear to be less diverse than those in other roles”.

The report suggested “new approaches” might be needed to address this lack of diversity. It also pointed out a lack of quantitative research on this issue, making it difficult to implement a strategy to address it, and acknowledged that many specialist roles were changing.

It recommended that quantitative research be carried out and that MPMs should share practice on the re-scoping of specialist roles and job descriptions to enable greater diversity.

Other recommendations included targets for diversification of MPM boards, sharing of best practice on traineeships, internships and apprenticeships, and a national programme of management-level traineeships, which it would like to see in place from April 2018 at the latest.

The report also suggests that MPMs should “treat volunteers as an integral part of their workforce and make training opportunities available to them”.

John Orna-Ornstein, ACE’s director of museums, in a blog discussing the report, wrote: “Some of the report findings make depressing reading, at least in one sense. It shows that the workforce of many of our museums continues to be deeply unrepresentative of the wider population. This is the case right across the workforce, but even more so at senior leadership and board level.

“But the report also paves the way for a direct and positive response. It focuses on a relatively small group of museums, and it has come up with a series of very practical proposals for how these museums can diversify their workforce.

“The work will be led by our Major Partner Museums themselves, and it will take time. But it is a positive step in the right direction at a time when the imperative for diversity is clearer than ever before.”

Delegates at the Museums Association (MA) Annual Conference and Exhibition in Birmingham will be taking part in a Big debate on Diversity at 12pm today, which will also be live streamed from the homepage of the MA's website.


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