Congress was visited by more than 300 leaders in the museum field on Tuesday for the fourth annual Museums Advocacy Day. The day started with welcoming messages and packets of key issues, and then off we went for meetings with our senators and congressmen. The delegation from Maryland was huge with about two dozen people and met with staff for Senator Cardin and Senator Mikulski, who were very open to our requests to support funding for the Office of Museum Programs of the Institute of Museum and Library Services; including museums among the approved partners for schools in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act; and opposing elimination of the tax deductibility of charitable donations. Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who represents my district, was incredibly generous with his time and came out to talk with us between votes in the House chamber.
Meeting with my senators and congressman to talk about the value of museums was a great experience, although it’s unclear how much can be accomplished in this bitter election year. More eye opening were the hundreds of people who were also wandering the halls to advocate for their cause, so we’ve got lots of competition. If we don’t participate, others will step in and happily take our place.
Museums Advocacy Day is coordinated by the American Association of Museums, and anyone is welcome to participate.