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Letter from Erika: The Big Picture

April 28, 2021 12:38 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

Map of 2021 State of NYS Museums respondents

Dear Members, Colleagues, and Friends,

When I looked out my window this morning, I saw maple leaves unfurling, sunlight on the river, and men fishing from small boats floating south on the falling tide. After living with uncertainty for so long, I have stopped trying to see beyond what is in front me while keeping the pursuit of a more inclusive, sustainable museum sector tied to my optimism for our future. 

We await word from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Humanities New York, and the New York State Council on the Arts about the dispersal of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act and the New York State Legislative Appropriations. Applications to the National Endowment for Humanities are due May 14. When we know more, we will share it with you. 

With data from 207 museums in NY, we are working to create a picture of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on our state’s museums. The top line data from the survey shows us that half of the respondents received PPP loans and a third lost full time staff in 2020. In 2018, 32% of the museums that responded to our survey reported closing their fiscal years in a deficit position. We are pleased to report that despite the financial impact of the pandemic, that number remains relatively stable with 37% reporting a deficit position in 2019 and 34% in 2020. Once we are done with the analysis, I believe that the data will show us a picture of a sector that is creative, resilient, and committed to preserving and sharing our state’s history, art, and culture.

The two speakers for our May virtual programs– Rob Fields Former President & Executive Director, Weeksville Heritage Center and Hannah Fox Director of Projects and Programmes for Derby Museums, UK– prevailed and succeeded in the face of tremendous adversity by connecting deeply with their communities. On May 7, Rob will share how in 2019, he spearheaded a crowdsourcing campaign that raised over $700,000 to help save the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn. On May 14, Hannah will join us from the new Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill, which will open to the public on Friday, May 21. Hannah will share the journey they’ve been on to embed co-production and human-centered design methodologies into a major museum development. 

We hope you can join us on May 7 and 14 to listen and learn from these deeply passionate museum professionals who have much to share about how community partnership can secure and fuel a museum into the future.


With thanks, e


Erika Sanger


The Museum Association of New York strengthens the capacity of New York State’s cultural community by supporting professional standards and organizational development. We provide advocacy, training, and networking opportunities so that museums and museum professionals may better serve their missions and communities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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