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Spelman College Museum and MCA Chicago
New Case Studies in Museum Diversity

In an ongoing effort to document the equity, diversity, and inclusion practices of art museums, Ithaka S+R, in partnership with the Mellon Foundation and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), has published two new case studies.

At Fifty, Remodeling for Equity: MCA Chicago studies the operations, collections, programs and audience of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. This museum has undertaken creative strategies to partner board and staff in a horizontal committee intended to address issues of access, inclusion, and equity across departments. They have made substantial strides diversifying collections and exhibitions in recent years, connecting with local artists as well as increasing nonwestern representation globally. And they have made impressive strides toward making the museum more accessible for those with disabilities, both digitally through their image description software COYOTE, and in their performance space, through the implementation of relaxed performances.

Small but Mighty: Spelman College Museum documents the work of an academic museum in a women’s HBCU, which is devoted to presenting the work of women of the African diaspora. Spelman College Museum’s work to build institutional partnerships locally, nationally, and internationally has magnified the impact of this small museum, both in terms of making significant contributions toward revising the art historical canon, and building connections with audiences off campus. On campus, it has integrated with the college’s curriculum in order to ensure that every student has an experience with the museum. And it had made a substantial impact diversifying pathways into the field through its curatorial studies program, which grants Spelman and Morehouse students curatorial experience, internship opportunities, and art history curriculum.

We hope these case studies can allow the broader field to learn from the experiments Spelman College Museum and MCA Chicago have undertaken.

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