On October 26, 2021 the Institute of Museum and Library Services notified PA Museums that the association was awarded a grant in its American Rescue Plan program for our project, Qualifying Diversity.
What is Qualifying Diversity?
PA Museums will launch a museum internship program called Qualifying Diversity that will connect individuals from diverse backgrounds with Pennsylvania museums in work experiences to qualify future museum professionals for entrance into museum workplaces. Qualifying Diversity addresses the IMLS’ goals of supporting the training and professional development of the museum workforce and promoting inclusive engagement across diverse audiences. Qualifying Diversity will also meet the American Rescue Plan grant program’s goal of strengthening institutional capacity and its objective related to workforce development.
Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Justice (DEIAJ) has emerged in museum initiatives as a leading activity. The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC), Pennsylvania’s state history agency, included this work in its 2018 Diversity Plan for its Bureau of Historical Sites and Museums, its Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access Policy adopted the same year, and its ongoing internal training program 21st Century Museums. PA Museums and PHMC have been working together on an IMLS funded project, Accessibility Excellence, since 2019. In the field beyond Pennsylvania, @changethemuseum on Instagram and voices across social media platforms have called for more meaningful progress on DEIAJ work, and our association issued a statement in June 2020 following the murder of George Floyd that included actionable steps for our work building capacity in our member museums in Pennsylvania. Museum boards and the museum workforce in Pennsylvania lack diverse voices and faces. For real change to take place, the field must identify and nurture individuals from diverse backgrounds and create opportunities for people to be qualified candidates for job opportunities in museums.
Qualifying Diversity’s intended results are: 1) identify best practices in inclusive hiring practices in museums and historical organizations by working with a Human Resources consultant, 2) to provide paid internship opportunities for a cohort of young people of color to work in museums across the commonwealth for six weeks in meaningful support positions with supervision from PA Museums, paid staff at museums, and partners from educational institutions to qualify them for professional positions with museums, and 3) foster inclusive hiring practices in our member museums.
PA Museums divided this project into three phases. The Hiring Practice Phase will begin the project with the development of a job description and process for identifying candidates for internships. The Onboarding Phase will engage the hiring process by interviewing and selecting the cohort as well as preparing individuals for their experience through training and exploring museums and museum work. The Internship Phase will include supervising and administrating their internship as well as a meeting to gather feedback and evaluate the experience.
Qualifying Diversity will benefit the individuals that are part of the internship cohort by enhancing their qualifications for museum job opportunities, and it will provide Pennsylvania’s museums with a framework for addressing the need to diversify staffing at all levels of organizational charts over time. PA Museums expects Qualifying Diversity to complement existing efforts in Pennsylvania to broaden engagement in the field across diverse communities and serve as a model for future programs addressing workforce development in museums.
PA Museums is interested in talking with member museums and other partners about Qualifying Diversity. If your organization is interested in partnering with us, please email us soon. We are at beginning the first phase of this 2 year project.