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Data Study


Museums Moving Forward (MMF) is conducting a data study about workplace equity and organizational culture in U.S. art museums, with the joint support of Ford Foundation and Mellon Foundation. The study uses secure multi-party computation to protect users' privacy while providing aggregate analyses. The goal of the study is to create a field-wide view of trends and patterns in art museum workplaces and to provide benchmarks for participating museums.


Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at the University of Alabama Birmingham

Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

Arizona State University Art Museum

Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive

Birmingham Museum of Art

Brooklyn Museum

Buffalo AKG

Cincinnati Museum of Art

Contemporary Art Museum Houston

Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

Crocker Art Museum

Dallas Museum of Art

Dia Art Foundation

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Institute of Contemporary Art Los Angeles

Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia


McNay Art Museum

Mississippi Museum of Art

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

Museum of Contemporary Art Denver

Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles

Museum of Fine Art Houston

National Gallery of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

Oakland Museum of California

Perez Art Museum Miami

Pulitzer Arts Foundation

Queens Museum

Saint Louis Art Museum


Speed Art Museum

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art

Studio Museum in Harlem

The Contemporary Austin

Toledo Museum of Art

University of Michigan Museum of Art

Williams College Museum of Art



Who is funding this?

MMF’s data study is made possible by the generous support of the Ford Foundation and Mellon Foundation.


Who are your data partners?

MMF is pleased to be partnering with Slover Linett Audience Research, the social research firm co-directing the major national initiative known as Culture Track over the past few years, and the Faculty of Computing and Data Science at Boston University.


Why are you doing this study?

MMF's research shows there is a lack of data about workplace culture and human resources within art museums, despite urgent calls for better practices over the past several years. This study is designed to bridge the information gap and create a productive path forward for the field.


Why should I participate?

Each participant will get to see an organizational report with the aggregate responses from your museum's staff and field benchmarks of staff across all participating art museums.

Participating museums will receive early access to MMF's field-wide report with deeper analyses of responses across all participating museums.

Participating museums will also receive a contributor badge (digital file) from MMF as an acknowledgment of your organization’s commitment to moving museums forward.


What does participation entail?

Participating museums will be asked to support data collection across three types of surveys: a full staff survey, an HR survey, and a director survey.


What kinds of questions are you asking?

The main topics of the staff survey are employment information (such as length of service, department, position level, salary, promotions, role in DEAI, etc.); organizational culture (such as strengths and challenges, experiences of discrimination, salary transparency, etc.); and participant demographics (such as gender, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, disability status, etc.)

The main topics of the director and HR surveys include board engagement and demographics; count of staff members by type and within salary ranges and categories; employee benefits (such as health insurance, PTO/sick leave, retirement plans, flexible time/remote work policies, etc.); and dispute procedures/metrics (such as mechanisms for reporting, count/type of complaints, type of resolution, etc.)


How long do the surveys take?

The staff survey will take approximately 7-10 minutes.

The HR survey will take approximately 1-2 hours. We are providing an Excel template of the survey for HR officers to answer at their own pace. Once complete, the template can be dragged to the study webpage anytime during the data collection period and it will auto-populate the survey questions.

The director survey will take approximately 3-5 minutes.


How are you protecting the confidentiality of responses?

The study uses multi-party computation or MPC, which is a secure way to extract collective insights about data without exposing the individuals who contribute that data to disclosure risks, using techniques closely related to encryption. MPC has been used to collect sensitive information to study important questions, like gender and racial wage gaps across the city of Boston. If you are interested in learning more about MPC, please click here.

Participants in the study anonymously provide answers to MMF’s survey(s). These answers are securely encoded before they leave the participant’s internet browser, so no one ever sees an individual survey taker’s response—not even a data analyst or members of MMF’s team. There is a minimum of 10 staff responses required for a museum to receive an aggregate report to ensure the privacy of respondents.


How is MMF’s study different than other studies out there?

In addition to our privacy-preserving approach, we’re asking different questions than other recent complementary research efforts. This study specifically explores salary and promotion rate equity and workplace experiences and takes a more in-depth look at organizational culture.

We’re collecting and triangulating data from multiple levels and viewpoints within each organization to get a picture of workplace equity and organizational culture informed by HR officers, directors, and other staff members, and to explore how these perspectives relate to each other across the field.


What is the deliverable or result of the study?

MMF will create a field-wide report including data from all three surveys on our website in the spring of 2023. This is the only public report.


Who will get to see the data and reports at my museum?

If you complete the staff survey, you will be able to see your organization’s average responses (the aggregate data) on every question alongside benchmarks for all art museum respondents. The organization’s aggregate data and benchmarks will also be provided to the leadership of each participating museum a few weeks before it is available to staff participants. The MMF field-wide report of data looking across all art museum staff respondents will be available to participating museums first, and then publicly available on MMF’s website.

For the director and HR surveys, the museum’s responses along with a benchmark of the aggregate data for all participating museums will be provided to the HR officer and the director. The data for average responses across museums from these surveys will be included in MMF's field-wide report.


What will be shared publicly about data across all participating museums and employees?

For the staff survey, MMF will share aggregate measures from all respondents across all museums on each question and we plan to calculate some new variables across questions. In addition, breakouts by race, ethnicity, gender, etc. will be shared for certain questions. No organization-specific data will be shared publicly without permission.

For the director and HR survey, MMF will share aggregate measures from all participating museums on each question. The research team will also test for connections between the data collected across the surveys. No data about a specific organization will be released publicly without permission.


How will you distribute the survey to museum staff?

Museums have the option to have MMF distribute the survey to staff members directly, or to distribute the survey to staff through the director’s office or HR department.


What is the timeline?

Data collection for the study begins October 17th and closes November 30th, 2022. All surveys must be completed during this time.

The data analysis period begins in December 2022 and we plan to have individual institution reports available by early 2023. MMF will host a series of convenings with participating museums to share and discuss findings, and to collectively interpret the data. Finally, MMF will produce a field-wide report in spring 2023, which will be available to participating museums first.


How much does it cost to participate?

Participation in the study is free.


Which museums are participating?

A list of participating museums can be found above.


What is the deadline for signing up?

October 7, 2022.


How do I sign up?

If you are interested in participating, please contact Mia Locks at [email protected].


I have another question, who do I speak to?

Please contact [email protected].