FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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, making visits to over 400 House and Senate offices on Capitol Hill. Organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the twelfth annual Museums Advocacy Day, February 24–25, will present Congress with powerful research and stories on the economic, educational, and community impact museums make locally and nationally.
In recent years, museum advocates’ collective efforts have not only defeated multiple and ongoing attempts to eliminate IMLS, NEA, and NEH, we have fought for and won increased funding for museum programs at IMLS, including an historic $3.8 million increase last year, as well as $7.3 million increases for each, NEA and NEH. During Museums Advocacy Day 2020, we are advocating for Congress’ tradition of strong bipartisan backing of the agencies who support the critical role museums play in society and the communities they serve every day.
“With Congressional elections just months away, now is a critical time to tell the stories of museums,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of the American Alliance of Museums. “Museums serve all our communities; engage with the issues real Americans face daily; and foster education, empathy, connection, and community while simultaneously acting as a significant economic boon for the United States.”
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.
- US museums contribute $50 billion into the economy each year, and support more than 726,000 American jobs.
- 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.
- Museums have a significant financial impact in every state.
- Nearly all museums are nonprofit organizations, and over one-third of their funding comes from charitable donations.
Museum advocates will urge Congress to support funding for museum programs at the Institute of Museum and Library Services and other agencies that help museums better serve their communities. To boost charitable giving, they also will urge Congress to enact a universal charitable deduction allowing taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions regardless of whether they itemize.
During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to legislators who have demonstrated exemplary support for museums:
Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) is a longstanding champion of state museums and history projects; consistently promoting the importance of history, state historic sites, and the cultural identity of Native tribes in North Dakota.
Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) has been one of the most consistent and vocal advocates of federal funding for the arts and for museums throughout her legislative career. She and her office are active participants in national arts advocacy days and she works to bring national attention to museums within her district.
Advocacy Leadership Awards
During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to advocates who have demonstrated exemplary leadership in their advocacy for the museum field:
Della Hall, Executive Director of Museums Alaska
In 2019, Alaska museums faced multiple threats including the State Division of Libraries, Archives, and Museums considered divesting itself of the Sheldon Jackson Museum in Sitka; The Governor’s office threatened to eliminate funding for the state arts agency; and there was a proposed two-year reduction in funding to the University of Alaska system which would have eliminated all funding for the Museum of the North. Della Hall did everything she could to battle these threats. Through her sharing of critical information and coordination with museum practitioners and legislative experts at the local, state, and national level, Della and the Alaskan museum community beat back these threats. They have not seen one cent disappear – and that’s largely due to Della’s persistent and tireless work.
Cyndi Sweet, Executive Director of Iowa Museum Association
Cyndi Sweet’s leadership of the Iowa Museum Association has been an exemplar for building successful partnerships to promote the critical role museums play in K-12 education. The “Teaching Iowa History” program is a smart, statewide project that equips K-12 educators to teach Iowa history using primary sources from the state’s museums and historical societies. The Association received an NEH “Creating Humanities Communities” matching grant in the amount of $60,000 to develop the statewide program. “Teaching Iowa History” raises awareness of the collections held in Iowa’s museums and the important role of museums in preserving and making available primary sources of information about Iowa’s people, communities, and role in the nation and in the world.
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 www.aam-us.org.
Director, Marketing & Communications
American Alliance of Museums