The High Museum is one of the top 100 most visited museums in the world. Located in Atlanta, GA, the museum “collection includes more than 15,000 artworks across seven collecting areas: African Art, American Art, decorative arts and design, European art, folk and self-taught art, modern and contemporary art, and photography.” Despite its diverse collection, the museum, like many others in America, had trouble marketing to a diverse city population. In recent years, thanks to the leadership of museum director Rand Suffolk, the “proportion of nonwhite visitors triple to 45 percent in recent years” which is close to the 55% proportion of people of color in the Atlanta area.
According to Rand Suffolk, the “increase happened in part because the staff got together to brainstorm how to better serve their audience.” An example of an idea taking shape includes raising the bar for diversity of art content. Over the past year, the High Museum, of the 15 major exhibitions that the museum has put on, nine “have highlighted important work by artists of color, women artists and gay artists.”
While Suffolk admits that the leadership is still not reflective of the diversity they are seeking, he believes it will over time. Suffolk also points out that a museum should look to reflect its constituents. If your city’s population is majority black, then more exhibitions should focus on that versus if your city is majority Polish. All in all, the High Museum does not look to be stopping anytime soon in its pursuit of inclusiveness and that’s a good thing for a diverse city like Atlanta.