February 18, 2016

Hundreds of Museum Professionals From Across the Country Will Visit Capitol Hill February 22–23 for Museums Advocacy Day

ARLINGTON, VA–Nearly 250 staff, students, board members, volunteers, supporters and independent professionals who work for and with museums will travel to Capitol Hill from across the country to advocate for federal support of America’s museums. Organized by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), the eighth annual Museums Advocacy Day, February 22–23, will present Congress with powerful research and stories on the economic, educational and community impact museums make locally and nationally.

“We’re thrilled to help our museum colleagues tell their story to members of Congress,” said Alliance President and Chief Executive Officer Laura L. Lott. “It’s important for lawmakers to know how much museums contribute to our communities and to our nation, in terms of economic activity, PreK-12 education and cultural enrichment.”

The Alliance reports the following figures that exemplify the importance of museums:

  • Museums invest more than $2 billion in education programs each year;
  • Museums welcome more than 55 million visits from schoolchildren each year;
  • In direct expenditures alone, U.S. museums inject $21 billion into the economy, and employ roughly 400,000 Americans;
  • Museums receive more than 850 million visits annually, 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 revenues.

Advocates from nearly every state will arrive in Washington for a day of issue briefings on Feb. 22, followed by a day of visits to Congressional offices.

All museum supporters are encouraged to advocate from anywhere by sending letters to elected officials via, engaging local press and sharing messages through social media, using #museumsadvocacy2016.

Congressional Honorees

During Museums Advocacy Day, the Alliance will present awards to members of Congress who have demonstrated exemplary support for museums. The 2016 Congressional Honorees are: Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), and Representative Tim Murphy (R-PA).

The Honorees will be recognized at a reception on Feb. 23 from 5 p.m.–7 p.m. in the Russell Senate Office Building, Room 325. Members of the media are invited to attend, R.S.V.P. to

Great American Museum Advocates

The Alliance also announces its 2016 Great American Museum Advocates, Karla Bailey-Smith and her 9-year-old son Kai Bailey-Smith. Last summer, when the Illinois State Museum was caught in the crossfire of a major state budget battle, Kai traveled with his mother to the state capital to testify in support of their favorite museum at a state commission hearing. Karla told the state commission that she learns something new about her state’s history every time she visits. Kai charmed everyone in the room, telling the commission that he liked the Illinois State Museum because he learns through playing, and there are tons of places within the Illinois State Museum where you can learn through play—about fossils and feathers—and you can look at things using a microscope.

Karla and Kai Bailey-Smith will receive their awards—and deliver brief remarks—at the Congressional reception on Feb. 23.

Star Advocates Recognized for Five Years of Participation

Now in its 8th year, Museums Advocacy Day has attracted many repeat attendees, and the Alliance will honor participants who have attended at least five Museums Advocacy Days: Betsy Bowers, Director, Center for Innovation in Early Learning, Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center, Washington, DC; Christin Byrum, Director of Museums, Museums of Oglebay Institute, Wheeling, WV; Mary Case, Executive Coach, QM2, Washington, DC; Cinnamon Catlin-Legutko, President and CEO, Abbe Museum, Mount Desert, ME; Wayne Eldred, Manager, Collections/Programs, Newtown History Center of the Stone House Foundation, Stephens City, VA; Ellen Ferguson, Director of Community Relations, Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture, Seattle, WA; Susan Funk, Executive Vice President, Mystic Seaport, Mystic, CT; Brenda Granger, Executive Director, Oklahoma Museums Association, Oklahoma City, OK; Heidi Hornaday, Trustee, Pony Express Museum, Saint Joseph, MO; Robyn Hughes, Docent/Volunteer, Jewish Museum of Maryland, Baltimore, MD; Lynne Ireland, Deputy Director, Nebraska History Museum-Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, NE; Marybeth Johnson, Vice President, Government Relations, Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago, IL; Douglas Jones, Director, Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; Sharon Jones, Museum Advocate, Brooklyn, NY; Katherine Kane, Executive Director, Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, Hartford, CT; Tracy Kay, Executive Director, Westchester Children's Museum, Rye, NY; Lotte Lent, Assistant Director of Museum Education, GWU Museum Education Program, Washington, DC; Allison Marsh, Director of Public History, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC; Christina McLoughlin, Grants Director, Port Discovery Children's Museum, Baltimore, MD; Steven Miller, Executive Director, Boscobel House and Gardens, Garrison, NY; Susan Perry, Executive Director, Southeastern Museums Conference, Atlanta, GA; Richard Pickering, Deputy Executive Director, Plimoth Plantation, Plymouth, MA; Donna Sack, Executive Director, Association of Midwest Museums, Saint Louis, MO; Ruth Shelly, Executive Director, Portland Children's Museum, Portland, OR; Scott Stroh, Executive Director, Gunston Hall Plantation, Mason Neck, VA; Jennifer Thomas, Executive Director, Virginia Association of Museums, Richmond, VA; Pete Watson, Past President, Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums; Kent Whitworth, Executive Director, Kentucky Historical Society, Frankfort, KY; and Dan Yaeger, Executive Director, New England Museum Association, Arlington, MA.

Visit to learn more about advocacy for museums.

About the American Alliance of Museums

The American Alliance of Museums has been bringing museums together since 1906, helping to develop standards and best practices, gathering and sharing knowledge, and providing advocacy on issues of concern to the entire museum community. Representing more than 30,000 individual museum professionals and volunteers, institutions and corporate partners serving the museum field, the Alliance is the only organization representing the entire scope of the broad museum community. For more information, visit


Press Contact: 
Joseph Klem
Phone: 202-218-7670