Art and Inclusion

2015–2020

When I arrived at the High in 2015, the Museum faced a difficult truth: an exceptional collection and world-class architecture could not exclusively make us essential within the diverse and growing city that we call home. That realization forced us to change. We embraced inclusivity as a value and as a measurable objective.

Nearly five years after accelerating our commitment to inclusivity, now feels like an appropriate time to pause and transparently share our progress. While this data has been used in different ways at different times, this is the first occasion that we’ve created a comprehensive assessment of our efforts.

This report both underscores the very real adaptation of our culture and points to gaps and shortcomings. In other words, while it marks our progress, it more importantly establishes a new baseline to guide the Museum’s ongoing dialogue about what’s next.

We certainly do not have all the answers. We understand that there is progress that is not “graphable.” And we’re aware that we’ve not achieved the full measure of change to which we aspire.

However, we will continue steadfastly toward our goal of being a place where all Atlanta is comfortable coming together. Achieving that will take continuous focus and the relentless reinforcement of inclusivity as integral to everything we do.


—Rand Suffolk, Nancy and Holcombe T. Green, Jr., Director

Visitation

From 2015 to 2020, the High increased its Black, Indigenous, people of color (BIPOC) participation from 15% in 2015 to 51% in 2020, a 240% increase. Over the last four years, we have averaged 47% in BIPOC audience participation. We have made a conscious effort to ensure that our audience reflects the diverse makeup of Metro Atlanta communities by intentionally presenting diverse exhibitions, increasing community access, establishing and continuing unique partnerships, and developing interesting programming.

 

Metro Atlanta Area

High Museum of Art

Education Level

Arts Audiences

High Museum
FY20
Atlanta, Georgia
U.S. Census Bureau
Arts Audiences
2020 Culture Track** ***
US Adult Population
2020 Culture Track** ***
White 49% 37.6% 85% 63%
Black/African American 21% 51.8% 3% 12%
Latinx and Hispanic 9% 4.3% 5% 16%
Asian or Pacific Islander 7% 4.2% 4% 6%
Native American or Alaska Native 1% 0.2% <1% 1%
Multiple Races 8% 2.4% 2% 2%
Other 7%

** Data from 653 participating organizations' respondents.
***Culture + Community in a Time of Crisis: A Special Edition of Culture Track; LaPlaca Cohen and sloverlinett Audience Research; July 7, 2020.

National Arts Audiences

Arts Audiences
2020 Culture Track** ***
US Adult Population
2020 Culture Track** ***
White 85% 63%
Black/African American 3% 12%
Latinx and Hispanic 5% 16%
Asian or Pacific Islander 4% 6%
Native American or Alaska Native <1% 1%
Multiple Races 2% 2%
Other

** Data from 653 participating organizations' respondents.
***Courtesy LaPlaca Cohen.

Age of High Museum Visitors (FY20)

Household Income of High Museum Visitors (FY20)

A Quick Note on Visitation
The demographic data contained on the following pages is collected in two ways: 1) our visitors self-identify via touch polls located throughout the Museum and 2) via mobile phone data aggregated via on-site visitation. This data excludes the nearly 55,000 schoolchildren who visit the Museum on an annual basis.


Reinstallation

Refreshed. Reimagined. Revealed.

In 2018, the High reopened its permanent collection after a six-month renovation project. With the help of Selldorf Architects, the High’s redesigned collections embraced growth and diversity through storytelling, creating meaningful conversations with artwork across all seven collecting areas, and increased the artwork on view from 6% to 8% of the collection. We continue our commitment to highlighting diverse voices by our presentation of the highest artistic achievement available to us.

Construction

Budget:
$5.8
Million
Time Frame:
2.5
Years
Architectural Planning:
11
Months
Installation:
2
Months
Construction:
5
Months

Artworks

1,495
Objects
32%
More Objects on View
8%
of the collection
30%
First time on view
20%
by artists of color
9%
by female artists

Acquisitions

The following historical data shows acquisitions from two perspectives: total number of works purchased and total cost of works purchased. To gain a comprehensive overview of this data, it is important to toggle between both charts. For example, between FY17 and FY19, artists of color represented on average 32% of the funds annually expended to purchase new works. However, during that same time period, those same acquisitions represented on average 52% of the total number of works acquired each year.

Acquisitions by Number

Acquisitions by Dollar Amount

 

A Quick Note on Acquisitions
Funding for acquisitions comes from two sources: dedicated endowment funds and cash donations. There is no requirement that endowment funds be spent in the year they are generated; hence, the Museum may strategically pool funds over multiple years to support more significant investments at a future date. Donations of art (i.e., gifts, bequests) are not represented in the numbers displayed.


Exhibitions

From FY11 through FY15, 32% of exhibitions featured women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists. From FY16 through FY2020, we redoubled our efforts, increasing our presentation of exhibitions featuring women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists to 62%, a 94% increase in diverse voices and experiences.

 

Exhibitions featuring women artists, artists of color, and LGBTQ+ artists

Talent Pipeline

Mellon Undergraduate
Curatorial Fellowship Program

In 2012, the High Museum was named an original partnering institution of the Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Curatorial Fellowship Program. The program increases diversity in the curatorial field by mentoring undergraduate students who have an interest in pursuing curatorial studies. The Mellon program supports a two-year paid fellowship ($20,000 for full two-year fellowship). To date, 10 students have been assigned to the High Museum, and several have been hired as High Museum employees in various disciplines within the Museum.

The High is 1 of 6 participants in the Mellon Curatorial Program.

HIGH MUSEUM OF ART, LACMA, MFAH, Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

AUC Art Collective

Last year, the High joined the Atlanta University Center Collective for the Study of Art History and Curatorial Studies. The collective’s goal is to extend the talent pipeline and further the important work of diversifying the field of curatorial studies with high school students. In partnership with the Early College Programs in Art History and Curatorial Studies at Spelman, the High supports rising junior and senior students of color to pursue undergraduate studies in art history and curatorial studies.



2019
12
Students participated
2020
20
Students participated

Driskell Prize

Since its inception (2005), the Driskell prize has recognized an early- to midcareer African American scholar or artist whose work makes an original and important contribution to the field of African American art or art history. The endowment for Driskell, which boasts just over a million dollars for the acquisition of African American artwork, has supported the purchase of 50 works by African American artists and awarded cumulative gifts of $375,000 to past recipients.

 

Funds Raised


Staff

In 2018, the High participated in a national Mellon Foundation study of art museum staff. In every demographic category (ethnicity, gender, and “intellectual leadership”), the Museum scored significantly higher than the national average among peer institutions.

 

Percentage of White Employees at the High Museum



Percentage of Intellectual Leadership staff* by race/ethnicity

*educators, curators, conservators, senior administrators

 

A Quick Note on Staff
As of 2020, the Museum employed approximately 135 staff. The data provided excludes approximately 80 security and janitorial staff, which are provided by independent third-party vendors.

Teen Team

The Teen Team is a diverse group of junior and senior high school students who work at the Museum as paid employees to gain knowledge and experience in various disciplines of the Museum. The Teen Team program is nationally regarded as a competitive program for teens who may be interested in the arts. Each year, at least two Teen Team seniors are offered Posse Scholarships, which covers full tuition and board to some of the nation’s top universities.

  • White
  • Black/African American
  • Latinx and Hispanic
  • Middle Eastern
  • Asian

2015–2016

2016–2017

2017–2018

2018–2019

2019–2020

Board of Directors

While gender diversity has been adequately represented on the Board, when looking at ethnicity, only 15% of Board members represent people of color.

Docents

Over the last five years, the High’s docent corps has steadily and successfully increased its recruitment efforts to invite people of color to act as art ambassadors for the Museum.

*There was no docent recruiting class for FY2020.

A Quick Note on Board Diversity
While progress has been made in diversifying Board representation by age and gender, further diversification by ethnicity is a strategic priority and area for improvement.