Talking Points

Whether you are a seasoned advocate or just beginning with your first Museums Advocacy Day, we recommend becoming familiar with these helpful taking points to help demonstrate the power of museums. Stakes will be high this coming election year, and we must continue to share our data and stories during Museums Advocacy Day 2024 and year-round if we are to secure continued and future support for museums from Congress.

Museums Advocacy Day partners and supporters may find these talking points helpful when speaking with the media, while advocates and museum-level participants may find them helpful for explaining the importance of museums and the financial and other challenges they currently face with fellow advocates, your networks, and your legislators.

Note: The legislative agenda that will be shared during Museums Advocacy Day 2024 will give you more details and examples on how to discuss the policy issues and asks that most impact museums in 2024.

Museums and their communities continuing to recover from the COVID-19 crisis:

  • The pandemic inflicted significant damage on US museums, the vast majority of which are 501(c)(3) nonprofit charitable organizations.

  • In a 2022 snapshot survey, 60 percent of museums report experiencing pandemic-related financial losses since March 2020, with the average being a little over $791,000. 60 percent of responding museums have budgets of $1 million or less.

  • In the recent 2023 snapshot survey, two-thirds of museums continue to experience reduced attendance, averaging 71% of their pre-pandemic attendance, while one-third of them have rebounded to pre-pandemic attendance levels.

  • 88% of respondents who received a Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loan cited it as being very important to helping their institution survive the pandemic or that they probably would not have survived without it. Relief funding from SVOG and the Employee Retention Tax Credit revealed similar results. 26% of responding museums have not recovered to their pre-pandemic staffing levels. In many cases, small and midsize museums and arts organizations struggle with stagnant or shrinking budgets, while also straining to regain pre-pandemic visitation levels. We must continue to ensure that museums have the critical funding they need to recover and thrive.

  • Museums have proved critical to our nation’s ability to manage through the pandemic. Even as museums experienced closures and significant losses in revenue, they continued to meet an increase in demand for their services and continued safeguarding and supporting their communities. They contributed to the ongoing education of our country’s children by providing lesson plans, online learning opportunities, and drop-off learning kits to teachers and families. They used their outdoor spaces to grow and donate produce to area food banks, as well as maintaining these spaces for individuals to safely relax, enjoy nature, and recover from the mental health impacts of social isolation. They served as vaccination sites across our country and acted as knowledge centers reducing vaccine hesitancy in their communities, and they donated their PPE and scientific equipment to fight COVID-19. They provided access to childcare and meals to families of healthcare workers and first responders. In the midst of financial distress, they even raised funds for community relief.

Economic Impact:

  • Museums are economic engines, contributing $50 billion (prior to the pandemic) to the U.S. economy annually—supporting more than 726,000 American jobs and generating $12 billion in tax revenue to all levels of government.


  • Museums are critical to advancing education in their communities: investing (pre-pandemic) some 18 million instructional hours and $2 billion annually in education programs that reach students of all ages and needs.
  • American museums spend more than $2 billion per year on education—with programs in every subject, often tailored to state and local curriculums—acting as centers of learning popular with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds, races, ages, educational levels, and political affiliations.
  • Prior to the pandemic, 50 million students attended public schools in the US, while 55 million students visit American museums each year.

About Museums:

  • In a time when trust in most sources of information is declining, museums have proven resilient, retaining their “superpower of trust.” In 2021, in a broad survey of museum-goers and the general population, museums ranked as the second most trusted source of information overall, following friends and family and ranking higher than government and news outlets.
  • Museums provide powerful and healing healthcare programs that reach diverse populations.
  • Living in a community with cultural resources confers a five year advantage in cognitive age: museums and similar cultural organizations provide the biggest boost to cognitive health.
  • Museums support national security and diplomacy efforts through international cultural exchange.
  • Americans care deeply about their museums: every week, they donate over 1 million volunteer hours to the museum field.
  • Americans want action: 95 percent would look more favorably on a legislator who acted to support museums.

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