Publication Date: May 2010
Publisher: American Association of Museums; Center for the Future of Museums
Author(s): Betty Farrell; Maria Medvedeva
Research Area: Culture and religion; Population and demographics
Keywords: museums; demographics; cultural participation
Coverage: United States
The U.S. population is shifting rapidly, and within four decades the group that has historically constituted the core audience for museums—non-Hispanic whites—will be a minority of the national population. This paints a troubling picture of the “probable future”—a future in which, if trends continue in their current grooves, museum audiences are radically less diverse than the American public, and museums serve an ever shrinking fragment of society.
This report analyzes demographic trends and projections for the American population as a whole, reviews the research on cultural participation by different racial/ethnic groups, discusses barrier to participation, highlights six museums that are pioneering ways to reach diverse audiences, explores the potential impact of generational change on museum-going habits, and offers a call to action for museum researchers and practitioners.
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