Advocacy Alert – December 15, 2023
In this Alliance Advocacy Alert:
- Register Today: Museums Advocacy Day 2024 in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26-27
- Take Action: Contact Congress in Support of OMS Funding
- News: U.S. Interior Department Issues Final NAGPRA Rule
Register Today for Museums Advocacy Day 2024 in Washington, D.C., Feb. 26-27
For over 15 years, Museums Advocacy Day has mobilized museum advocates nationwide to help ensure we reach every member of Congress with our message that museums are worthy of federal support and are essential to communities. Each year Museums Advocacy Day brings together museum professionals, CEOs and directors, independent professionals, students, and advocates who work for and with the museum field – at any stage of your career and in any role at your museum – to make our voices heard with legislators and their staff. Museum board members and trustees are also highly encouraged to participate.
Together as a field we have defeated several threats to eliminate federal agencies supporting museums in recent years, including as recently as November 2023, but we must keep making our case to Congress.
Don’t miss this powerful opportunity to combine our collective voices to share the unique value of museums of all types and sizes across the country. Your participation matters!
Contact Congress in Support of FY 2024 Funding for Museums
A stopgap measure enacted in November is maintaining funding at fiscal year (FY) 2023 levels through Jan. 19 for four of the twelve annual appropriations bills and through Feb. 2 for the remaining eight bills. This extension buys time but doesn’t change that Congress still has a lot of work to do to negotiate appropriations legislation for FY 2024, which began on October 1. A risk remains of a federal government shutdown.
Take Action Now! As the House and Senate work to resolve FY 2024 spending, it’s critical to keep urging your legislators to support at least $55.5 million for the Office of Museum Services (OMS).
It is especially important to reach out if your senator is one these key Senate Appropriations Committee leaders: Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).
So far, a House appropriations subcommittee approved a bill that, if enacted, would provide funding level with FY 2023 of $55.5 million for OMS, while the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would cut FY 2024 funding for OMS by $3.25 million. (For additional appropriations details, see the August 4 Alliance Advocacy Alert.) The House began, but did not complete, debating the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill, which funds OMS. Thanks to your ongoing advocacy, no amendments seeking to cut or eliminate IMLS/OMS were offered.
U.S. Interior Department Issues Final NAGPRA Rule
On December 13 the Interior Department issued in the Federal Register its final rule to revise regulations that implement the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA). The rule regulates returning Native American human remains, funerary objects, sacred objects, or objects of cultural patrimony to lineal descendants, Indian Tribes, and Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs). It also seeks to streamline requirements for museums and federal agencies to inventory and identify Native American human remains and cultural items in their collections.
According to the Interior Department, “the final rule makes a number of changes, including:
- Strengthening the authority and role of Tribes and NHOs in the repatriation process by requiring deference to the Indigenous Knowledge of lineal descendants, Tribes and NHOs.
- Requiring museums and federal agencies to obtain free, prior and informed consent from lineal descendants, Tribes or NHOs before allowing any exhibition of, access to, or research on human remains or cultural items.
- Eliminating the category “culturally unidentifiable human remains” and resetting the requirements for cultural affiliation to better align the regulations with congressional intent.
- Increasing transparency and reporting of holdings or collections and shedding light on collections currently unreported under the existing regulation.
- Requiring museums and federal agencies to consult and update inventories of human remains and associated funerary objects within five years of this final rule.”
The rule is effective January 12, 2024. For additional information, visit the Interior Department/National Park Service National NAGPRA program.
Your steadfast advocacy efforts make a critical difference in building needed support for museums and museum professionals.
Looking for more advocacy tools and resources? Visit the Advocacy section of our newly-updated Resource Library today! Also see AAM’s Trustee Resource Center to learn more about engaging your board in advocacy for museums.
Visit http://www.aam-us.org/advocacy to learn more about AAM’s advocacy for museums.