Participants engage in a group activity during a CCLI meeting in February 2018

Be Inclusive, Be Included: Participate in the National Landscape Study on DEAI Practices in Museums

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By Jenni Marin

Children’s museums, because of our unique focus on audience rather than content, are often at the forefront of innovative museum practice around diversity, equity, access, and inclusion (DEAI). Our roots are deeply embedded in our communities, and our institutional goals focus on reflecting those communities in exhibits, programs, events and audience. As a field, children’s museums are often more willing than other museums to try new approaches for ensuring we are serving the unique needs of our individual communities. 

With the understanding that it’s never been more important to understand DEAI practices in the museums, CCLI is launching a groundbreaking, industry-wide study this September focused solely on these practices in museums: The National Landscape Study: DEAI Practices in Museums.

Through a carefully vetted survey instrument, this study will:

  • document how organizations prioritize strategies and tactics,
  • highlight the structures presentto sustain these efforts,
  • analyze the levels of leadership involvement, and
  • explore where there are challenges and gaps.

The survey will engage museums of every discipline, size, and region, to paint a picture of the entire museum sector—making it important for as many museums as possible to participate. We know that the children’s museums  excel in reaching diverse audiences in creative and successful ways. However, we have not always focused on documenting these innovative practices. This survey is our opportunity as a field to have our voices heard and our strategies documented in the greater museum field.

A report of the findings will be released in the spring of 2020. The results will benefit museum leaders with important insights into where their organization is relative to the field, relevant data for decision-making and strategic planning, and information that will support staff development.

ABOUT CCLI

The survey is sponsored by CCLI (Cultural Competence Learning Institute), a process and set of resources designed to help museums increase their organizational capacity around diversity, inclusion, and culture. CCLI is a partnership between ACM, Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose, the Association of Science-Technology Centers, and Garibay Group. As a yearlong professional development institute, CCLI helps museum leaders catalyze diversity and inclusion efforts in their institutions. Recently awarded a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, CCLI has expanded its focus and invested in long-term sustainability to develop, track, promote, and recognize DEAI efforts within individual institutions andthe field at large. The upcoming survey is one component of CCLI’s National Leadership Grant. 

Said Stephanie Ratcliffe, executive director of The Wild Center in upstate New York, about her museum’s participation in CCLI’s yearlong institute: “The CCLI program supported our efforts to construct a series of professional development activities to fundamentally change how we approach diversity broadly and the tools to move staff through an effective learning process. Our efforts were just the beginning of an organization-wide shift that continues today.“   

CCLI has already reached more than twenty-five museums, including children’s museums, science centers, nature centers, zoos and aquariums, and natural history museums, and seventy-five individual participants. Applications for CCLI’s next cohort will be accepted until November 19, 2019. Find more information here: https://community.astc.org/ccli/home

The National Landscape Study: DEAI Practices in Museums is launching today, Thursday, September 5. Primary contacts at ACM member museums (typically the museum’s CEO or Executive Director) will have received an email from Garibay Group with a unique survey link. Different people at your organization will likely contribute to completing the survey, so, in addition to the Survey Monkey format, a printable Google format will also be included. 

It is so critical that children’s museums of every size and region be represented. The more diverse the input, the more useful the results will be for the field and for your organization. Look for this email (or ask your CEO about it) to ensure your organization’s data is included.

Jenni Martin is CCLI Project Director and Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose.