PATRICIA ANN BANKS

Associate Professor of Sociology, Mount Holyoke College

Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums

The book is essential reading across social science and humanities, as well as museum and arts professionals, and anyone interested in contemporary culture.”- Dave O’Brien, New Books Network

Drawing on over 80 in-depth interviews with trustees and other supporters of African American museums across the United States, Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums offers an inside look at the world of cultural philanthropy. While patrons are bound together by being among the distinct group of cultural philanthropists who support black museums, the motivations and meanings underlying their giving depart in both subtle and considerable ways depending on race and ethnicity, profession, generation, and lifestyle. Revealing not only why black museums matter in the eyes of supporters, Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums also complicates the conventional view that social class drives giving to cultural nonprofits. It paints a vivid portrait of how diversity colors cultural philanthropy, and philanthropy more broadly, in the 21st century.

Figure 1.1 Oprah Winfrey (left), who donated over $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, at the museum’s opening ceremony, with the actor Will Smith (right). Leah L. Jones for the NMAAAHC.

Figure 1.1 Oprah Winfrey (left), who donated over $20 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, at the museum’s opening ceremony, with the actor Will Smith (right). Leah L. Jones for the NMAAAHC.

Reviews

“What is the future, and what is the past, of the African American Museum? In Diversity and Philanthropy at African American Museums (Routledge, 2019), Patricia Banks an associate professor of sociology at Mount Holyoke College, explores the rise of the African American museum and its patrons and philanthropists. Combining sociology of culture with organisational and institutional analysis, the book offers both contemporary and historical analysis of some of the most important cultural institutions in America. Crucially, the book restates the importance of understanding race to sociology of culture, particularly in understanding elites. The book also reveals the changing nature of giving, with younger patrons expecting a different mode of engagement, as well as distinctive political and collecting practices. The book is essential reading across social science and humanities, as well as museum and arts professionals, and anyone interested in contemporary culture.”—Dave O’Brien, New Books Network