Museum Governance

About the work

The Art Board project is a data-driven look at the governance of art institutions. Who should sit on a museum board has become an increasingly complicated issue in the art world, as long-standing conversations about wealth concentration and influence in patronage have become focused on the hot-button topics of gender and racial equity, and of whether donors with problematic sources of wealth should have a seat at the table.


The Art Board, by A.-L. Barabási, A. Grishchenko, A. Gates, and L. Shekhtman, 2019; 3d layout by Cs. Both.

Shekhtman, L.M., Barabási, AL. Philanthropy in art: locality, donor retention, and prestige. Sci Rep 13, 12157 (2023).

To look at who is currently controlling our art institutions, the BarabásiLab obtained the tax forms filed by all US nonprofits, which enabled it to identify the board members active in the art space. By ascertaining which board members sit on multiple boards, the team was able to turn the data into a map that charts the joint governance of seemingly independent institutions.