policy and advocacy
Museum Funding through the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Promoting Lifelong Learning and Protecting Our National Heritage by Supporting America's Museums
We urge Congress to support no less than the Presidentís proposed increase to $39.9 million for grants to museums within the IMLS budget in the FY08 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill, which provides an increase of $8 million for programs such as Museums for America, Conservation Project Support, and 21st Century Museum Professionals.
- IMLS helps build the capacity of museums to serve their communities and leverages state, local, and private funds. IMLS programs help museums develop rich content and give the public broad access to support our nationís 21st century learners. It plays a critical leadership role by making grants, convening national experts, encouraging well-planned public programs, and supporting national research. National competition is a catalyst for excellence and promotes improvements in museum service nationwide. Federal leadership helps disseminate models and puts a spotlight on the remarkable resources that museums bring to education and to communities across the United States. In addition, peer-reviewed IMLS grants assure state, local, and private funders that a museum has met high national standards and is worthy of their additional support.
- IMLS reinforces the role of museums in lifelong learning. Funding supports projects that address a full range of learning opportunities in museums, including developing exhibitions, working with schools to develop curriculum and programs, creating family and adult programs, and generating internet content. American museums provide over 18 million instructional hours to K-12 schoolchildren. Seventy-one percent work with school curriculum specialists to tailor programs to support local and state curriculum standards, according to the 2003 edition of the IMLSís report True Needs, True Partners. IMLS helps to create a larger framework for learning by promoting collaboration among museums and libraries and other community organizations.
- IMLS helps museums care for our national heritage. These collections are used to teach and inspire, and are vital to sustaining a well-educated and connected citizenry, a thriving tourist industry, and a wealth of knowledge to enrich and enlighten our civilization. They are a public trust that must be protected for future generations. According to the 2005 Heritage Health Index, the first comprehensive survey ever conducted of the condition and preservation needs of our nationís collection, over 4.8 billion artifacts are held in public trust by more than 30,000 archives, historical societies, museums, libraries, scientific research collections, and archeological repositories. U.S. collections are at risk due to exposure to hazards and lack of proper storage (e.g. overcrowding and lack of proper environmental controls), lack of disaster and emergency plans, and limited staff resources and expertise in conservation and preservation. IMLS supports projects for collection management and care; research, scholarly, and popular publications; and exhibit planning design and implementation.
- IMLS encourages public access. An important role for IMLS is to explore how the growing use of technology can bring the rich content of museums into Americaís libraries, schools, and homes.
- IMLS levels the playing field. Many museums are located in areas where they are the only cultural resource and where significant private support is simply not available. IMLS specifically targets support for these institutions, providing vital competitive grants.
The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) is an independent Federal agency dedicated to creating and sustaining a nation of learners. The Office of Museum Services (OMS), responsible for museum programs within IMLS, is dedicated to supporting museums in carrying out their public service, educational, and stewardship roles in connecting the whole of society to the cultural, historical, and scientific understanding that constitute our heritage, held in trust for the nation.
In reauthorizing IMLS in 2003, Congress underscored the essential contributions of museums to a democratic society, which leads us to new visions where learning is seen as a community-wide responsibility supported by both formal and informal education. America's more than 16,000 museums attract more than 865 million visits annually from families, children, and individuals seeking enriched learning resources and cultural contact through museum collections, exhibits, and tours. OMS supports all types of museums, including art, history, science, children's, specialized institutions, and living collections such as zoos and aquariums.
FY06 funding for OMS was $36.5 million, which included nearly $5 million for program administration. As of February 7, 2007, Congress is still deliberating on a continuing resolution that would provide funding for the agency at the FY06 spending level. President Bush has proposed an $8 million increase in funding for grants to $39.9 million for FY08, which does not include administrative costs.