Skip to main content



Seattle Art Museum respectfully acknowledges that we are on Indigenous land, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. We honor our ongoing connection to these communities as we share present perspectives, remember the past, and envision the future through the power of art.

Throughout history, art has been used for education, revolution, politics, propaganda, emotions, subversion, and sharing transformative experiences. SAM believes that art always contains a message and cannot be neutral. We rely on our collection, exhibitions, and the artists we work with to reflect our institutional values and we can, and will, take tangible actions to enact necessary change in our society.

SAM’s commitment to equity is ingrained across all facets of the museum. From internships designed to engage with historically underrepresented communities to working with advisory committees on exhibition planning, SAM is actively collaborating with our diverse community to ensure that a wide range of perspectives are represented in both the way the museum works and how the museum serves Seattle and the world.

We are responsive to cultural communities and experiences, and we think critically about the role art plays in empowering social justice and structural change to promote equity in our society. We are dedicated to racial equity in all that we do.

Advancing racial equity at SAM is everyone’s responsibility. We want to reflect that commitment within the priorities and plans of every element across the institution. We recognize that this work never ends and that we each play a role—including you, our visitors and members—in creating a museum where everyone feels a powerful sense of belonging and can connect with the art and ideas on view.

What to know

SAM’s 2024–2029 strategic plan goals address some of the actions and outcomes that the museum is striving towards.

Advance & Operationalize Equity Goals: Building on our progress integrating equity, diversity, and inclusion into our values and practices, we will become a destination where everyone feels welcomed, seen, and inspired.

Continue to expand the collection to better reflect constituencies that have been historically underrepresented.

Collect data and assess recruitment, retention efforts, and professional development opportunities, centering the experience in historically underrepresented groups within the museum field.

Provide exhibition development staff with demographic and geographic data to create exhibitions that reflect our populations, the technology to be creative, and the freedom to think outside the box. 

Review current and planned partnerships with all our constituencies to consider breadth and effectiveness and ensure that we continue to serve a range of diverse audiences.

Increase investment in accessibility measures in recognition that art can be enjoyed and appreciated in a number of different ways including physically, emotionally, linguistically, and more.

Investment in access-related technology, services, and facility improvements Investment in professional development and recruitment Investment in staff to support equity work.

As we advance and operationalize more of our equity goals, we will assess what is working best, identify our biggest barriers and opportunities, and prioritize the actions needed to achieve our goals.

see SAM's strategic plan

History & purpose

Seattle Art Museum’s racial equity work has been a focus since the mid-1990s with the formation of multiple community advisory groups and organizational partnerships specifically aimed at building relationships with local communities of color. Under the leadership of Sandra Jackson-Dumont, the Deputy Director of Education and Public Programs who was hired in 2007, and Kim Rorschach, who became SAM’s Director and CEO in 2013, many initiatives were formed to further racial equity work at SAM and the seeds of a culture shift were planted.

In 2015, SAM participated in the Turning Commitment into Action racial equity learning cohort facilitated by the City of Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and Office for Civil Rights. This program provided arts and cultural organizations across Seattle the opportunity to examine the ways they could eliminate institutional racism and build racial equity in their organizations. As a result, in 2016 SAM’s Equity Team was formed.

That same year, independent consultants facilitated racial equity training for SAM staff, Board, and volunteers. Based on feedback from the training, the Equity Team created SAM’s racial equity plan, which became integrated into the institution’s strategic plan. Because the goals were institution-wide, departments were required to look at their individual goals and develop action plans for how they could be achieved. Equity was also added to SAM’s core values, specifically referencing racial equity, with the belief that when we start with race and recognize intersectionality, everyone benefits.

In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, which intensified the Black Lives Matter movement across the country, SAM reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and created the position of Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, a senior level position now held by Priya Frank. In addition, an Equity Task Force was formed which became a permanent board committee in 2022.

Equity task force

The goal of this task force was to build on SAM’s commitment to fostering equity and inclusion throughout the museum. Designed as an advisory body composed of members of SAM’s Board, staff, and Education and Community Engagement Committee. The broad membership represents a diverse cross-section of SAM staff and community members so that many perspectives could be brought to the table.

The members of the task force were divided into working groups focused on four critical departments at the museum: Human Resources, Curatorial, Development, and Communications.

Over the course of six months, this group gathered virtually to brainstorm, comb through research, discuss ideas, and ultimately developed a set of recommendations. These are summaries of the expansive, detailed timelines that were generated through this work. Departments are already implementing many of these initiatives as they continue planning and identifying resources for the long term.

Human Resources

Create a more inclusive work environment and increase representation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) at SAM through a focus on recruitment, hiring, and retention practices.


Increase BIPOC representation in SAM’s collections, exhibitions, and gallery interpretation; further community collaborations; and expand the scope of programming.


Build inclusive fundraising and membership practices that center trust and authenticity to increase connections with BIPOC audiences.


Better understand who our current audiences are and identify those communities where we can more effectively engage. Provide strategic guidance to departments across SAM in communicating equity priorities, goals, and progress both internally and externally.

Equity initiatives

Board Equity Committee

This permanent board committee evolved from the 2020 Equity Task Force. The committee is dedicated to providing thought partnership, accountability, strategy building, reports, and support of SAM's strategic plan goal of operationalizing equity work across the museum.

Staff Equity Advisory Committee

With members across all departments at SAM, the Staff Equity Advisory Committee is supporting institutional accountability for strategic plan goals around racial equity. The committee promotes efforts to build a welcoming workplace for all through transparent communication around equity-related work happening within departments across the museum, pooling resources and ideas, supporting projects, and providing experiential learning opportunities for staff that center BIPOC artists and arts and cultural organizations.

Emerging Art Leader Internship

Interdisciplinary Emerging Arts Leader (EAL) internships aim to open career pathways for individuals who bring dynamic backgrounds and perspectives to their work in art, museums, or community engagement. This internship program is intended to engage with historically under-represented groups in the museum field. In 2024, the program expanded to include internships for existing employees to experience working in other areas of the museum.

Hiring practices

SAM strives to attract employees, volunteers, and interns who are passionate, qualified, and offer diverse perspectives by prioritizing equity and inclusion in the workplace. We are interested in engaging with historically under-represented groups in the museum field as we strive to be inclusive and equitable.

Advisory committees

Working with members of our community in the planning of programming and exhibitions is part of SAM’s commitment to equity. It is important that voices and perspectives from across diverse communities are represented in the decisions that SAM makes.

Title I School Subsidies

Full or partial reimbursement for school bus transportation is available on a first-come, first-served basis to Title I schools (40% or more students on a subsidized lunch program). Generally, maximum bus reimbursement is $150 per bus or $300 total per visit.


SAM strives to create an enriching experience for all visitors and provides accessibility options at all of our locations. We are also working to adopt best practices to make digital experiences more accessible for all audiences experiencing art from home or planning a visit to the museum.

Director of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

This position on the museum’s executive team was created in 2020 and designed to help shape the Seattle Art Museum's priorities, partnerships, communications strategies, and audience-engagement efforts to build an equitable, diverse, and inclusive museum. This role builds relationships with key stakeholders in the field, serving as a community liaison and connector.

Community Passes

SAM strives to be an inclusive and welcoming place for everyone. Through strategic community partner organizations, we provide free opportunities to experience the museum to those in our community who have historically faced barriers or been excluded from engaging with museums.

SAM Stories

Voices and perspectives on SAM’s equity work shared from museum staff, our communities, and artists around the world.

Stay up to date

Sign up for SAM news!

Upcoming events

Nothing to see here, check back soon!

See what’s on at SAM

Related programs