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Fifty Percent More Advocates Will Visit Capitol Hill on February 28 to Speak Up for Museums

Category: Press Release


February 16, 2017

ARLINGTON, VA–More than 350 staff, students, board members, volunteers, supporters and independent professionals who work for and with museums will travel to Washington, DC from across the country to advocate for federal support of America’s museums, with over 300 of them making visits to House and Senate offices on Capitol Hill. Organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the ninth annual Museums Advocacy Day, February 27–28, will present Congress with powerful research and stories on the economic, educational and community impact museums make locally and nationally. This year’s participation is more than 50 percent higher than a year ago, and marks the first time that an advocate from each of the 50 states is scheduled to make visits on Capitol Hill.

“Museum professionals are stepping up in record numbers this year,” said Alliance President and CEO Laura Lott, “motivated in part by concerns about reports that the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) could face potential elimination. These agencies play a uniquely valuable role in helping make the arts and humanities accessible to every American. The museum field will stand strongly against any effort to impede the important work of NEA and NEH, and the multiplier effect their grants have in local communities.”

“We will need every museum professional, every trustee, and every volunteer to speak with one voice to help preserve these vital agencies, and to make sure the new Congress knows about the vital role museums play in our communities, our economy, and in the education of our young people.”

Museum advocates travel to Washington for a day of issue briefings on Feb. 27, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices on Feb. 28. In meetings with legislators and staff, they will advocate for federal agencies, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the NEH, and the NEA, that support the work of museums. They will also urge Congress to protect the full scope and value of the charitable deduction in any tax reform legislation.

The Alliance reports the following figures that exemplify the importance of investing in museums:

  • Museums invest more than $2 billion in education programs each year.
  • Museums welcome more than 55 million visits from schoolchildren each year.
  • In direct expenditures alone, US museums inject $21 billion into the economy, and employ roughly 400,000 Americans.
  • Museums receive more than 850 million visits annually, more than all major league sporting events combined.
  • For every $1 invested in museums and other cultural organizations, more than $5 is returned in tax revenues.
  • A significant amount of federal funding comes back to each state from the federal cultural agencies.
  • Nearly all museums are nonprofit organizations, and over one-third of their funding comes from charitable donations.

All museum supporters are encouraged to advocate from anywhere by sending letters to elected officials, by engaging local press and sharing messages via social media, using #museumsadvocacy2017.

New Data from National Survey on Advocacy by Museum Trustees

Participants will get a fresh look at the “secret weapons” of advocacy — museum trustees – and a sneak peek at new data from a first-of-its-kind nationwide survey of museum directors and board chairs.  Panelists at the session “The Vital Role of Trustees in Advocacy” will include Kathy Dwyer Southern, board member, Biggs Museum of American Art, and director of special initiatives for the American Alliance of Museums (moderator); Anne Wallestad, president and CEO, BoardSource; Christine Holm, regional director, Northern Trust; and Meg Ferguson, trustee, The Walters Art Museum.


During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to members of Congress who have demonstrated exemplary support for museums. The 2017 Congressional Honorees are Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS).

The Alliance also will recognize longtime advocate Margaret Benjamin as its 2017 Champion of Museums. Benjamin serves on the board of the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro and is vice chair of the Museum Trustee Association. “Through advocacy, trustees can use their bright spotlights not to light up themselves, but to shine on their museums’ essential role in communities,” Benjamin said.  “This is what advocacy is about.”

Star Advocates

Eleven museum advocates will be honored with Star Advocate awards, recognizing their fifth year of participation in Museums Advocacy Day. The awards will be presented during the welcome reception at the National Museum of Women in the Arts on Sunday evening, Feb. 26.  The 2017 Star Advocates are:

  • Lisa Craig Brisson representing the Michigan Museums Association
  • Margo Carlock representing the National Association for Interpretation
  • Alexandra Nicholis Coon representing the Massillon Museum
  • Kippen de Alba Chu representing Iolani Palace
  • Paul Hammond representing the March Field Air Museum
  • William Harris representing Space Center Houston
  • Jason B. Jones representing the Western Museums Association
  • Johnna McEntee representing the Ohio Museums Association
  • G. Mark Ray, representing the Heritage Rail Alliance
  • Antonio Rodriguez representing several museums as an independent museum consultant
  • Dorit Yaron, representing the David C. Driskell Center at the University of Maryland

Members of the media are invited to attend Museums Advocacy Day; please R.S.V.P. to

The 2017 Museums Advocacy Day is made possible with generous support from Blackbaud, Northern Trust, and 40 national, regional, and state partner organizations.

More details are available at, and you can follow the event on Twitter at #MuseumsAdvocacy2017.


About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions, and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance stands for the broad scope of the museum community. For more information, visit


Media Contact:

Joseph Klem
Director, Public Relations
American Alliance of Museums

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