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Of Interest
November 12, 2020

Today, Ithaka S+R released two important research reports relevant to our own work at the Kress Foundation.

One report, developed in partnership with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) and the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD), summarizes Ithaka’s inaugural Art Museum Director Survey. Sponsored by the Kress Foundation and modeled on Ithaka S+R’s triennial National Library Director survey, the 2020 survey was launched in the winter of 2020 and closed in March, on the eve of the COVID-19 pandemic and other defining events of this pivotal year. Ithaka S+R was fortunate to have secured enough responses by then to provide a snapshot of the perspectives of directors immediately preceding this transition to a changed world. This data reveals the state of the field as it entered into a crisis, and the 2020 survey constitutes a benchmark and provides evidence of the perspectives of art museum directors immediately preceding COVID-19. Though more research is needed to understand how these perspectives have changed over the last several months, the survey will allow Ithaka S+R to iteratively measure change over the years as our institutions continue to adapt to new social and environmental challenges.

The Art Museum Director Survey may be consulted or downloaded at

Simultaneously with this inaugural Art Museum Director Survey, Ithaka S+R has just released a tandem report entitled Structuring Collaborations: The Opportunities and Challenges of Building Relationships Between Academic Museums and Libraries. In 2019 Ithaka S+R received funding from the Mellon Foundation to study the structural relationships between academic museums and libraries. Ithaka S+R conducted interviews with museum and library directors, and in some cases other senior staff, at no fewer than thirty universities. Based on these interviews, three institutions were selected for short case studies as examples of effective collaborations: University of Iowa, the Atlanta University Center, and Princeton University.

This study has its origins in a 2016 summit held at University of Miami, co-sponsored by Kress and Mellon with the intention of exploring the topic of academic library and museum collaboration. In a white paper released following that summit, the hosts wrote that, “The frequent placement of libraries and museums in disparate academic organizational structures erodes opportunities for intense collaboration and communication around program development.” The current study seeks to explore those opportunities.

“Structuring Collaborations: The Opportunities and Challenges of Building Relationships Between Academic Museums and Libraries” is available for consultation and download at

Ithaka S+R is a non-profit research organization launched by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation two decades ago. Ithaka S+R works with leaders in higher education, academic libraries, museums, foundations, and publishers to research, evaluate, and provide strategic guidance in a range of areas.