The American Association of Museums (AAM) and the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM) just released a data snapshot of the museum workforce. An analysis of data collected from the 2009 American Community Survey reveals what may not come as a surprise to many: the museum workforce is predominantly older, male, well-educated and white. AAM and CFM’s report reveals that males represent 52.5 percent of the workforce, leaving 47.5 percent female. Over 79 percent of museum workers are white and 70 percent of the workforce attended college.

The current workforce bears an uncanny resemblance to the museum-going population. Museums have long struggled with making themselves accessible and relevant to their often untapped diverse communities. Why aren’t diverse audiences visiting or working at museums? I associate the workforce and the audience supply strain to limited early exposure and a lack of structured mentorship programs for diverse groups.

Several studies by the National Endowment for the Arts have drawn links between early exposure to the arts and frequent museum visitation later in life.  Beginning with meaningful and frequent exposure to history, culture and the arts within the context of a museum cultivates continued financial and time investments into cultural institutions. Such investments may translate into museum careers. Budding interest in the field must be developed by mentorship and work programs. The Getty Foundation, for example, has has founded and funded multicultural internships and fellowships to address this diverse workforce supply issue so that the profile depicted by the AAM and the CFM may one day change to reflect the diversity of the collections the world’s museums preserve, interpret and share.