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ASU Launches Diversity Initiative With Los Angeles County Museum of Art

ASU Art Museum in the Nelson Fine Arts Center on the Tempe campus.EXPAND
ASU Art Museum in the Nelson Fine Arts Center on the Tempe campus.
Lynn Trimble

Arizona State University is partnering with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to create the LACMA-ASU Master's Fellowship in Art History.

The three-year fellowship is designed to train more diverse curators, directors, and other museum professionals. The first cohort will start the program this fall.

ASU President Michael Crow and Michael Govan formally announced the new program at the A.E. England building in downtown Phoenix on Tuesday, May 8. Govan is the CEO and director for the Los Angeles museum.

“This partnership and program will help open the pipeline for more talent and diverse ideas to feed the art museums of the near future,” Govan said.

The fellowship will be headed by Angelica Afanador Pujol, an associate professor at ASU School of Art, who specializes in the art, material culture, and architecture of the indigenous people of Latin America. Her research interests include indigenous agency and the social function of art.

Students will take classes through ASU School of Art, and work 30 hours per week with either ASU Art Museum or LACMA. The California-based students will complete some of their program requirements online.

Participating students will also work closely with museum curators on exhibitions, travel to explore other museums, participate in workshops, and receive mentoring from museum professionals. The first cohort will enter the program in August.

The fellowship is designed to help students from diverse backgrounds overcome two common barriers to pursuing arts leadership careers — limited access to education and limited access to practical work experience.

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"We're defining diversity broadly, rather than limiting it to particular categories," said Steven Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at ASU.

As part of the program, students will address the issue of diversity in museums, and ways to make museums more inclusive, Tepper said.

Research indicates there's a need to diversify museum spaces, according to Miki Garcia, director for ASU Art Museum. "America's changing demographics aren't reflected in its art institutions," she says. Instead, more than 80 percent of leaders at top-tier art museums are white males, and 70 percent of museum visitors are white.

“We need to build a strong and rigorous project at the graduate level to create more inclusive institutions and pathways to leadership,” Tepper said.

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