Numerous studies indicate the underrepresentation of ethnic and racial minorities in the museum-field. Changing hiring practices is one part of redressing this issue, but it must be complemented by ensuring there are dedicated pathways into the profession that proactively remove structural barriers.
The Toledo Museum of Art eliminated unpaid internships in 2015 in an effort to ensure that finances did not impede the development of early museum career experiences. Though TMA was able to attract more diverse interns, each intern cohort was still not representative of the Toledo-area community.
To address this issue, the Museum developed a teen leadership program, identifying teens with interests in the arts at regional high schools and providing them with immersive learning opportunities through structured curriculum and a culminating project. The teen leaders were encouraged to apply for internships, which further diversified the Museum’s internship cohort. Many teen leaders and interns went on to entry-level positions at TMA.
With a fairly well-developed pathway into the museum field, the Museum has sought to develop pathways into management and leadership. In 2016, TMA received funding from KeyBank—another Action Pledge signatory—to endow a leadership fellowship for a recent undergraduates of color. Though the fellowship launched successfully, it was clear that the fellowship could be restructured and better aligned with the teen leader and internship programs as well as follow-on development opportunities. The Museum has engaged a consultant to make recommendations on a revised structure.
The Museum has diversified its internships and entry level workforce, thereby contributing to the diversification of its staff more generally. Over the coming years, the additional pathways being constructed should lead to greater racial and ethnic representation at higher levels of management and leadership.
Organizations with diverse decision-makers systematically outperform their peers. The Toledo Museum of Art is committed to diversifying our team at every level, not only through recruitment but also through developing the talent we already have.