Cecile Shellman is the owner and president of Cecile Shellman Consulting, a Pittsburgh-based private consulting firm providing galleries and institutions around the country with customized diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion plans that “ensure that museums are truly for all.” Driven by a lifelong passion for art, Ms. Shellman completed a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting at Brigham Young University in 1991, and spent several years as a commercial artist before exiting the field to find better opportunities to use visual arts as a medium for education and communication. She found herself drawn to museum studies as a way to highlight and guide the narratives that art objects present to viewers, and in 2001, Ms. Shellman was awarded a graduate certificate in museum studies by Harvard University.
Ms. Shellman has been the head of Cecile Shellman Consulting since 1991, when she built her business from scratch. She recalls that at the time, she had never seen another consultant focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly in the arts, and was motivated by her experiences as a woman of color in the art industry and a desire to modernize and expand the ways museums interact with patrons. Consulting has brought her to positions including group and community outreach specialist for the Carnegie Museum of Art and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
Ms. Shellman is the former artistic director for visual arts and exhibitions at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture and spent three years with Pittsburgh Public Schools as the district’s culturally responsive art education project manager, in addition to work for the Andy Warhol Museum and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. In 2019, she was named a senior fellow for diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion by the American Alliance of Museums and a diversity catalyst consultant for the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, where she continues her work in addition to consulting. The same year, Ms. Shellman became an intercultural development inventory qualified administrator, cementing her reputation as a creative, uncompromising and culturally competent figure in museum consulting.
In recognition of her outstanding work on behalf of museums and cultural institutions, Ms. Shellman was named a 2019 senior diversity fellow by the American Alliance of Museums Facing Change, and she has been active in the Association of Art Museum Curators, the International Council of Museum and the American Alliance of Museums for many years. She hopes to continue to consult for years to come, noting that her current focus includes guiding clients to create more inclusivity in their executive boards, staff and governing bodies. Ms. Shellman emphasizes that diversity and inclusion take hard work and continuous effort and strives to help preserve the cultural and artistic legacies of the objects on display in a genuinely transformative and honest way.