Hundreds of museum advocates with members of Congress on Museum Advocacy Day 2021 – American Alliance of Museums

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For immediate release

ARLINGTON, Virginia– More than 600 museum advocates today urge Congress to support sustained funding for museums in crisis due to closures linked to the pandemic.

Hosted by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the thirteenth annual Museum Advocacy Day (and first-ever virtual) February 22-23 welcomes a record number of participants from all fifty states and Washington, DC. Advocates bring powerful research and stories to Congress about the economic, educational and community impact of museums at the local and national levels and how they are essential to the recovery of our country.

“The pandemic has awakened Congress and policymakers who have not always understood business models or the value of museums,” said Laura Lott, President and CEO of AAM. “While the museum sector has received record levels of federal government support over the past 12 months, the funding has provided only temporary relief. Recovering museums will take years and without a congressional-backed lifeline, I fear many museums will be lost forever. “

The Alliance reports the following figures which illustrate the importance of investing in museums:

  • A third of museums risk closing permanently in the next twelve months without immediate financial support, which would mean the loss of 12,000 museums and 124,000 jobs.
  • Museums invest more than $ 2 billion in education programs each year.
  • Before the pandemic, American museums injected $ 50 billion into the economy each year and support more than 726,000 American jobs.
  • Before the pandemic, museums received more than 850 million visits per year, 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 revenue.
  • Museums have a significant financial impact in each state.
  • Almost all museums are non-profit organizations and over a third of their funding comes from charitable donations.

All museum supporters are encouraged to defend from anywhere by sending letters to elected officials, engaging the local press and sharing messages via social networks using # museumsadvocacy2021.

Legislative requests

Museum advocates will urge Congress to support funding for museum programs from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and other agencies that help museums better serve their communities. To boost charitable giving, they will also urge Congress to adopt a universal charitable deduction allowing taxpayers to deduct their charitable contributions, whether itemized or not. They will also urge Congress to support increased funding and relax the eligibility requirements for Shuttered Venue Operators grants, formerly known as Save Our Stages.

In recent years, the collective efforts of museum advocates have not only defeated multiple and continuous attempts to eliminate the IMLS, NEA and NEH, they have fought for and secured increased funding for museum programs in the past. ‘IMLS, including an increase of $ 2 million this year, as well as as $ 5.25 million each increases, NEA and NEH in addition to the inclusion of museums in the protection program forgivable loans paychecks (PPP), other funding from the CARES Act, charitable donation provisions and grants for closed site operators (SVOG). During Museum Advocacy Day 2021, advocates encourage Congress’s tradition of strong bipartisan support for agencies that support the vital role museums play in society and communities, urban and rural, that they serve every day, across the country.

Congress Honorees

On Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to legislators who have demonstrated exemplary support for museums. This year’s winner is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a longtime champion of museums across the country.

Advocacy Leadership Award

During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present prizes to defenders who have shown exemplary leadership in their advocacy for the museum field:

Johnna McEntee, Executive Director of the Ohio Museums Association

Johnna McEntee has led the Ohio Museums Association (OMA) for the past several years focusing advocacy as essential and empowering OMA members to be effective advocates in Ohio and on Capitol Hill with this year marking the 10th Virtual Speak Up for Ohio Museums Day. The Ohio Museums Association is a strong supporter of Museums Advocacy Day, and Johnna is a dedicated activist whose work leads the strong Ohio delegation at this time and throughout the year. In 2020, Johnna and the OMA pledged to advocate and support Ohio museums in new ways to ensure state and federal lawmakers are aware of the impact of the pandemic on Ohio museums and beyond, quickly becoming a central source of pandemic-related information for Ohio museums and lawmakers. The Ohio Museums have a strong and invaluable voice thanks to the dedicated advocacy and leadership of Johnna and the OMA.


Celeste DeWald, Executive Director, California Association of Museums

Celeste DeWald has been the Executive Director of the California Association of Museums (CAM) since May 2004, championing museums and helping them become more relevant and effective organizations. She has served on the boards of the Coalition of State Museum Associations and CalNonprofits and has always prioritized museum advocacy in this ongoing work. Throughout 2020, Celeste has been a tireless advocate for museums to federal and state lawmakers. CAM communicated regularly with its members, board of directors, government relations committee, and legislative contacts at federal and state levels to advocate for museums, including several mail campaigns with the most recent available data and requests from the field. These important efforts have urged all California lawmakers to recognize the dire circumstances facing museums in California and beyond, and to include museums in the economic relief needed in the event of a pandemic. Additionally, Celeste has played a particularly important role in helping achieve Congressional leadership on legislation and issues affecting not only California museums, but all museums. Celeste and CAM are unprecedented in their support and advocacy for California museums and the museum cause.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has brought museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and advocating for issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 35,000 professionals and volunteers from museums, institutions and partner companies serving the museum sector, the Alliance represents the broad spectrum of the museum community. For more information visit www.aam-us.org.

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Media contact:

Natanya Khashan
Director, Marketing and Communications
American Alliance of Museums
[email protected]


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