News & events > New AAM Report on Museum Governance and Board Leadership
09 Jul 2017

New AAM Report on Museum Governance and Board Leadership

  The American Alliance of Museums (AAM) has recently published Museum Board Leadership 2017: A National Report. The report, which is available for free on AAM's website, results from the belief that good governance is essential to the work of museum trustees and directors. In this respect, the report grades museum boards in the United States on a wide variety of policies, practices and performance. Among the issues covered are museum boards' composition and structure (e.g. demographics, diversity, inclusion, recruitment practices), their work and responsibilities (internal work vs external work, advocacy, fundraising, etc.) and leadership culture and board dynamics. The report was based on a national survey of 1600 museum directors and board chairs.

Key findings

Key findings of the Museum Board Leadership 2017 report include the following:
  • Two-thirds of museum directors say their boards have a positive impact on their job satisfaction.
  • Museum boards give themselves a B- grade overall, on par with other nonprofits; however, the vast majority of museum boards do not formally assess their performance.
  • Museum directors and board chairs believe board diversity and inclusion are important to advance their missions, but have failed to prioritize action steps to advance these priorities.
  • Eighty percent of museums give themselves a grade of C or lower on monitoring legislative and regulatory issues with potential to impact the organization.
  • Museum board chairs are actively engaged in fundraising activities, and identified fundraising as the most important area for improvement.
The AAM has planned a number of public debates and regional discussions on the report and its implications for individual museums in the near future. Museum Board Leadership 2017: A National Report was commissioned by AAM and conducted in partnership with BoardSource, an organisation that researches and provides support to leaders in non-profit organisations, and Northern Trust, which provides investment and support to developments in the non-profit sector in the US. The report is available at