Artists in 18 Major US Museums Are 85% White and 87% Male, Study Says

The U.S. art museum sector is grappling with diversity. While previous work has investigated the demographic diversity of museum staffs and visitors, the diversity of artists in their collections has remained unreported. We conduct the first large-scale study of artist diversity in museums. By scraping the public online catalogs of 18 major U.S. museums, deploying a sample of 10,000 artist records comprising over 9,000 unique artists to crowdsourcing, and analyzing 45,000 responses, we infer artist genders, ethnicities, geographic origins, and birth decades. Our results are threefold. First, we provide estimates of gender and ethnic diversity at each museum, and overall, we find that 85% of artists are white and 87% are men. Second, we identify museums that are outliers, having significantly higher or lower representation of certain demographic groups than the rest of the pool. Third, we find that the relationship between museum collection mission and artist diversity is weak, suggesting that a museum wishing to increase diversity might do so without changing its emphases on specific time periods and regions. Our methodology can be used to broadly and efficiently assess diversity in other fields.
The study’s results — with all statistical caveats considered — paint a somber picture of the lack of parity in museum collections. The study found that 85.4% of the works in the collections of all major US museums belong to white artists, and 87.4% are by men. African American artists have the lowest share with just 1.2% of the works; Asian artists total at 9%; and Hispanic and Latino artists constitute only 2.8% of the artists.

A recent study finds the artists in 18 major US museums are 85% White and 87% male. Who's surprised? No one. What will people do about it? We're waiting. 

WOW: Artists in 18 Major US Museums Are 85% White and 87% Male, Study Says

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