Leadership, succession, and governance in African American museums have often been affected by the deep relationship between these museums and their communities, their relative lack of financial resources, and relationships between the founder, CEOs/directors, and their boards. Unlike traditional museums, which were often founded by patrons of the arts, early African American museums were birthed by strong community leaders with a commitment to African American history and culture but usually without personal wealth. They needed and utilized community in every area of the museum’s mission and operations to fight for their very existence, which continued to shape the leadership and growth of these museums for years. Today, African American museums combine the community-driven legacy of the past with new opportunities to create sustainable leadership and governance.

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