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Share what's happening in your museum or cultural institution.

MANY members are invited to submit news and short articles from their museums or cultural institutions in New York State. News posts are welcomed at any time and are posted right away. All members are encouraged to share their stories and update the MANY community on any exciting developments occurring in their organizations. 

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  • Organization milestones
  • Reflections on the museum field and new trends
  • Advice and guidance for museum professionals


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  • July 20, 2018 9:50 AM | Alexandra Drakakis

    Recently, I found myself outside a jam-packed bar chanting “Ospina! Ospina!” – the last name of the Colombian national soccer team’s goalkeeper – joining an emphatic chorus of World Cup fans. I was on my way home after work, delayed when I became swept up in the dramatic final moments of the “knockout round” match. The mood on the street was powerful, combining a celebration of athleticism with a celebration of cultural pride. It was impossible to walk past without feeling the magnetism of hopeful, positive energy generated by this vast cross-section of people.

    The emotional effects of sports are multi-pronged. They course through every society and country, and can be unifying, particularly in times of crisis and upheaval. As ESPN staff writer Tommy Tomlinson observed, “This is the blessing of sports. They help you remember when you want to remember, and they help you forget when you need to forget. They heal us an inning at a time, quarter after quarter, play by play.”

    In the aftermath of 9/11, sports helped to shape a national response to the terrorist attacks extending far beyond America’s stadiums and playing fields. That phenomenon is explored in “Comeback Season: Sports After 9/11,” a new special exhibition at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.

    Included near the exhibition’s start is a roster for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team match, scheduled to take place on the evening of 9/11 in Columbus, Ohio. Set to face Japan in the Nike U.S. Women’s Cup, the roster had been prepared for distribution to the media. It included names familiar to American fans such as Heather Mitts, Abby Wombach and then-captain Julie Foudy. Fate intervened, however, and the match was canceled that afternoon, along with the rest of the tournament, mirroring the shock that gripped the nation.

    Recalling the decision to suspend play that evening, Foudy said, “We felt it wouldn’t be right. Even being the National Team, we felt that the focus should be on getting with family and starting the rebuilding, mentally and emotionally. It was that raw.”

    Most major sporting events were canceled through the weekend following 9/11, marking the longest period of major league sports stoppage in American history. Instead of playing, athletes dedicated themselves to visiting with first responders, 9/11 survivors and families of victims. Some ventured to Ground Zero to distribute supplies, serve food and do whatever they could to raise the spirits of those working the around-the-clock relief effort.

    When sports resumed, stadiums became communal settings for memorialization and demonstrations of national unity. The resumption of ritual provided comfort and solace for the bereaved, a welcomed distraction for anxious Americans, and the promise of a comeback that we, as a collective society, would make it to the other side of this monumental tragedy.

    Today, we can revisit this unprecedented time in sports history and modern American history, through “Comeback Season,” and find inspiration in the stories within it. As Philadelphia Distance Run Director Mark Stewart wrote in a letter to the parents of a World Trade Center victim registered to participate in the city’s half marathon on Sept. 16, 2001, “We hope that the image of athletes of many races, religious beliefs and nationalities standing together at the start of the Race will make a statement which counters the horror of the week.”

    On the cusp of the 2018 World Cup Final, poised to electrify and unify sports fans around the world, these words maintain relevancy as we reflect on 9/11 and take stock of the violence that has rocked our separate but interconnected communities and global well-being since then. 

    By Alexandra Drakakis, Associate Curator, 9/11 Memorial Museum
  • July 16, 2018 12:41 PM | Richard Stone

    The Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie has added SEO with AI to www.BarrettArtCenter.org.   It’s breathing new life into their digital archives and bolstering sponsorships.

    Visitors like variety and choice, and SEO with AI lets them explore the Barrett’s online collection with a real-time menu of 1-on-1 suggestions tailored to each visitor individually, in addition to the traditional menu at the top of the page.

    “The success of our gallery depends on the bond we make with members, visitors, artists and sponsors,” writes Joanna Frang, Executive Director of the Barrett. “SEO with AI has been a great addition to our website, and we have received very positive feedback.”    

    “The service is breathing new life into our archives, which is great for artists as well as the Barrett,”  reports Frang.

    It is also helping the Barrett retain current sponsors and add new ones, she noted.  For any art, historical or cultural institution, that is big news.  Important news.

    “I like being able to feature Fun House 2018, which is a big biennial event that is very popular with artists and visitors,” she added enthusiastically.

    MANY member Trajectory SMG works closely with the Barrett Art Center and others to identify and maintain innovative solutions for online collection management.

  • July 10, 2018 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    Posted on behalf of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

    WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 8, 2018) — The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will offer a second round of its new Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants, with an application deadline of August 9.

    NEH announced the new grant program, designed to create and sustain humanities infrastructure, in January. Under this program, cultural institutions such as museums, libraries, archives, colleges and universities, scholarly associations, and historic sites are eligible to receive up to $500,000 for projects that build institutional capacity or infrastructure for long-term sustainability.

    These challenge grants, which require a match of nonfederal funds, may be used toward capital expenditures such as construction and renovation projects, purchase of equipment and software, sharing of humanities collections between institutions, documentation of lost or imperiled cultural heritage, sustaining digital scholarly infrastructure, and preservation and conservation of humanities collections.

    NEH’s first Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grant awards will be announced in August. However, in response to marked demand for infrastructure support, the agency will offer the program for a second time in 2018; click the following for application guidelines.

    “For decades, NEH has played a vital role in helping build the humanities infrastructure of the United States,” said NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede. “These new grants expand that role by leveraging federal dollars to spur increased private investment in our nation’s libraries, museums, and cultural centers to ensure the long-term health and growth of these institutions. The result will be greater access to historical, cultural, and educational resources for all Americans.”

    The grant program includes a special encouragement to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-serving Institutions, and two-year colleges.  

    The application deadline for the second round of NEH Infrastructure and Capacity Building Challenge Grants is August 9, 2018. Please direct questions about grant proposals to challenge@neh.gov or 202-606-8309. 

    Media Contact: Paula Wasley at (202) 606-8424 or pwasley@neh.gov

  • July 02, 2018 1:36 PM | Emily O'Leary

    Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection at Hebrew Home at Riverdale is pleased to announce its latest exhibition, Swords into Ploughshares: Sculpture by Jay Moss on view in the Pauline and William Goldfine Pavilion Lobby Gallery from July 15–October 7, 2018. A reception will take place on Sunday, July 15, from 1:30–3 p.m. in the Goldfine Pavilion Lobby Gallery, located at 5901 Palisade Avenue in the Riverdale section of The Bronx. This event is free and open to the public. R.S.V.P. 718.581.1596 or art@hebrewhome.org. Photo I.D. required for admission.

    The exhibition includes 13 sculptures made between 1980 and 2012. Many of them reflect Moss’s experience on the front lines during WWII when he served as a combat engineer. Moss has worked for more than seven decades crafting sculptures that resonate with his experience of the horrors of war and his hope for a lasting peace. In these relief and tabletop works assembled with  wood, metal, sheet lead, plastic and other materials, Moss addresses a range of social issues. Sometimes whimsical or ironic, they comment on such subjects as the corrupting influence of power and the treatment of prisoners from German prison camps to Guantanamo Bay.

    In an assemblage that resembles an artillery shell, Anzio (2003), made from materials leftover from when he was a professional lamp designer, Moss has collaged mementos from his war experience: a letter from his mother, a patch spelling out A-N-Z-I-O, a photograph of the German howitzer that ran on a railroad track, currency from the occupation used in Italy and a photo of his brother. The work is titled after the beachhead where, despite being a combat engineer, as a newly arrived soldier he had to replace combat troops in a flooded foxhole in the winter of 1944.

    Another work, GI Joe (2012), depicts a tall and lanky figure in relief, made up of fragments and with a skull-like face, at the ready with his helmet and rifle. Moss’s unit arrived in Europe on August 15, 1944, for Operation Dragoon—the Allied invasion of Southern France. Months later, not far from the front, in the forests of the Vosges Mountains, Moss built what were called corduroy roads—“trees that they knock down to make a roadway so it’s very bumpy to the front,” he has explained. That’s when he saw dead soldiers on the back of an open track—a traumatic memory that lingers to this day and which Moss has said is the “essence of the front for me.”

    During those final months of the war, thousands of enemy soldiers were captured. That time is reflected in The Prisoner (1991), a carved wood piece with a hand-drawn and painted bandana covering the eyes. The base of the head is carved wood covered with sheet metal, a material the artist frequently employs and which is soft and malleable, ready to be hammered or molded.

    About the artist

    Born in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, in 1923, to immigrant parents—Isadore Moskowitz, a clothing maker and store owner born in Russia, and Josephine Goldsmith Moskowitz, who was born in Romania—Jay Moss attended the High School of Industrial Art (later the High School of Art and Design), where he studied graphic arts, three-dimensional design, display and studio drawing. The family first lived over the tailor shop and later moved to Flatbush and Greenpoint before settling in Jackson Heights, Queens.

    Moss was drafted into the army in 1943 after working as a page at CBS, and trained as a combat engineer in Fort Belvoir, VA. His unit, the 36th Engineer Regiment, traveled through North Africa before arriving in early 1944 at Anzio, a key campaign of the Allied forces on the Italian coast. After Italy, he was stationed in Marseille and on the French front in the Vosges Mountains on the eastern border with Germany.

    Moss attended the Art Students League as a benefit of the GI Bill, studying under José de Creeft, Morris Kantor and M. Peter Piening. A mahogany head he carved while a student at the League was exhibited at Jacques Seligmann & Company in 1947. Moss also received a sculpture prize at the Nassau County Art Association in the 1960s. He was head of NBC television’s art department where he worked for 12 years and then was the owner-designer of a company that made decorative mirrors and wall pieces. After selling the company, he worked as a design consultant and lighting product designer. He also taught lighting product design at the Parsons School of Design and television graphic arts at the RCA Institute. All the while, he worked at his passion, sculpting in the basement studio of his family’s Long Island home and at their second home in Stockbridge, MA. Moss has worked both figuratively and abstractly, creating forms using a table saw and chiseling a variety of woods that he then assembles with other materials, including lead, metal and cloth.

    Moss has had two previous solo exhibitions, at Manhattan College in 2014 and the Historic Wells Gallery in Lenox, MA, in 2001.

    In 2008 he and his wife, Sabina, who have two sons, moved to Riverdale, where Moss continues his artistic practice.

    About Hebrew Home at Riverdale

    As a member of the American Alliance of Museums, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale by RiverSpring Health is committed to publicly exhibiting its art collection throughout its 32-acre campus, including the Derfner Judaica Museum and a sculpture garden overlooking the Hudson River and Palisades. The Derfner Judaica Museum + The Art Collection provides educational and cultural programming for residents of the Hebrew Home, their families and the general public from throughout New York City, its surrounding suburbs and visitors from elsewhere.  RiverSpring Health is a nonprofit, non-sectarian geriatric organization serving more than 18,000 older adults in greater New York through its resources and community service programs. Museum hours: Sunday–Thursday, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Art Collection and grounds open daily, 10:30 a.m.–4:30 p.m. Call 718.581.1596 for holiday hours and to schedule group tours, or for further information, visit our website at http://www.riverspringhealth.org/art

    This exhibition is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

  • June 22, 2018 11:44 AM | Richard Stone

    I love museums, but face a challenge whenever I visit a museum’s website: finding what interests me, personally. 

    All museums have websites and most are constantly adding content. It may be archives that have been digitized, or recent exhibitions, or blogs written by the museum staff or visitors. In fact there is now so much content on a site, that I need a docent! You know, someone who knows every piece of art at the museum and how it relates to every other piece of art. 

    A Digital Docent has been developed by Trajectory SMG and Datanomers to recommend content on a museum’s website based on a current visitor’s interests. 1-on-1 in real time. It does this regardless of the site’s size or platform.

    The Digital Docent looks at and reads every page on the site in its entirety.  Hundreds to thousands.  It knows what page I am currently looking at, and instantly recommends other like-minded pages that will interest me, personally.

    This digital employee interacts 1-on-1 with each visitor, and breathes new life into online collections. As a result, website visitors are more engaged and stay longer.

    The Barrett Art Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, is using the Digital Docent.  Visitors, artists and sponsors are giving it great reviews. Take a look at www.BarrettArtCenter.org and see how it works. Or read what they say about it at www.dsitogo.com.

    AI, Digital Docents and Online Museums. A winning combination.


  • June 08, 2018 2:01 PM | Wade Lawrence

    BETHEL, NY (June 8, 2018) – In a multi-day activity that invites public participation, a team of archaeologists from the Public Archaeology Facility at Binghamton University will commence an archaeological exploration, excavation and discovery on the historic Woodstock festival site at Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Bethel, NY during the week of June 11. The team will set up operations on the 1969 concert field and begin a series of micro-excavations to establish with the greatest precision possible the location of the stage, sound and light towers and other features on the field.

    After a set-up period, archaeologists will be on the field 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, June 13 to 14, and Monday through Thursday, June 18 to 21. Bethel Woods and the archaeology team invite the public to assist with screening the soil and making an inventory of the artifacts. The field is located at Hurd and West Shore Roads in Bethel, just north of The Museum at Bethel Woods.

    Using preliminary locations from computer-assisted design maps, the archaeologists will seek out soil disturbances, discoloration and other evidence to pinpoint the outline of the main stage, stage fencing, performers footbridge and towers.

    The team will flag the locations and, working with cultural landscape historians, Bethel Woods will then be able to apply for funding for a more permanent and appropriate marking of where the features were sited. Once marked, the features will more readily be incorporated into tours of the historic grounds which are now given by volunteer docents associated with The Museum.

    “As stewards of this highly significant historic site, it is our responsibility to have the most accurate information possible,” said Wade Lawrence, director of The Museum and the overall project manager for preservation activities at the historic site. “It is exciting to have these archaeologists from Binghamton University on site to help us determine with certainty, where the stage was, and where the towers were so that we can make that part of the stories we tell visitors.” Some of the work at the site is underway in preparation for the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock festival which will be commemorated in 2019.  The Woodstock festival site, including the 37-acre concert field, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2017. A cultural landscape report completed in 2015 recommended more than 20 preservation and interpretation activities at the site. The marking of the stage and other features was one of them.

    This project has been funded by donors to Bethel Woods for the preservation of the historic Woodstock site and by an EPF grant administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, as well as funding from the A. Lindsay and Olive B. O’Connor Foundation, the Hart Family Fund for Small Towns at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Sullivan County Plans & Progress Small Grants Program.

    To learn more visit bethelwoodscenter.org.


    About Bethel Woods Center for the Arts


    Bethel Woods Center for the Arts inspires, educates, and empowers individuals through the arts and humanities by presenting a diverse selection of culturally-rich performances, popular artists, and community and educational programming.  Located 90 miles from New York City at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, NY, the lush 800-acre campus includes a Pavilion Stage amphitheater with seating for 15,000, an intimate 440-seat indoor Event Gallery, the award-winning Museum at Bethel Woods, and a Conservatory for arts education programming.


    Through the in-depth study and exhibition of the social, political, and cultural events of the 1960s, as well as the preservation of the historic site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Bethel Woods educates individuals about the issues and lessons of the decade while inspiring a new generation to contribute positively to the world around them. The not-for-profit organization relies on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to develop and sustain programs that improve the quality of life in the region and beyond.


    For more information please visit www.BethelWoodsCenter.org.

  • May 31, 2018 11:21 AM | Gary Moeller

    The National Bottle Museum has installed a new display of decorated stoneware crocks and jugs.  All pieces were manufactured at Hudson Valley potteries.

  • May 24, 2018 1:58 PM | Wade Lawrence

    BETHEL, NY (May 24, 2018) – For the fifth year, The Museum at Bethel Woods will again take part in Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across America to offer free admission to the nation’s active duty military personnel and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The program provides families an opportunity to enjoy the nation's cultural heritage and learn more about their community, especially after a military move. A list of participating museums is available at arts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

    The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID) or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps - and up to five family members.

    “Visiting a museum is a great way to get to know a community—whether it’s in your hometown or a stop on a road trip,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “We appreciate the enthusiasm of museums all across the country who open their doors for military and their families to spend time together and have new arts experiences.”

    This year’s participating Blue Star Museums represent not just fine arts, science, history and children’s museums, but zoos and nature centers as well. Museums are welcome to sign up for Blue Star Museums throughout the summer by emailing bluestarmuseums@arts.gov.

    “As many military families spend the summer months moving from one duty station to another, or reconnecting with a parent who has returned from deployment, Blue Star Museums helps service members and their families create memories,” said Blue Star Families Chief Executive Officer Kathy Roth-Douquet. “Blue Star Families has great appreciation for the generosity of the museums across the country who roll out the red carpet for the families who serve alongside their service members. We are thrilled with the continued growth of the program and the unparalleled opportunities it offers.”

    Located at the historic site of the 1969 Woodstock festival, The Museum at Bethel Woods is dedicated to perpetuating the history of the decade by engaging visitors through a dynamic, immersive multi-media exhibit and annual special exhibitions. The Museum offers the opportunity to see, hear and feel the ‘60s while simultaneously connecting the iconic decade to today. Interactive arts and humanities programs for children and adults alike include concerts, festivals, workshops, films and speaker series. For a full list of events, please visit bethelwoodscenter.org.

    In addition to its Main Exhibit, The Museum proudly presents its 2018 Special Exhibit Peter Max: Early Paintings. The art of Peter Max, with its colorful imagery of gurus, Zen boats, snow-capped mountains and sunbeams, helped define the psychedelic 1960s.  With paintings on exhibition in hundreds of museums and galleries worldwide, Peter Max’s artistry has become part of the fabric of contemporary culture.

    Though Peter Max has stayed in the public eye through five decades, visitors to The Museum at Bethel Woods will have a rare opportunity to see inspiring artwork from a pivotal moment in the artist's illustrious career: the period from 1967 through 1972 when his work moved from nostalgic collage-inspired realistic paintings to his visionary, imaginative cosmic creations.

    Peter Max: Early Paintings brings together for the first time the collections of Robert Casterline and Shelly Fireman for a Peter Max experience that should not be missed.

    Bethel Woods will also debut its new outdoor art installation, Doors to Originality, inspired by the 2018 Special Exhibit, Peter Max: Early Paintings. Using Max’s cosmic ’60s art style as inspiration, twelve regional artists have created a series of Peter Max-inspired designs on vintage wooden doors which have been placed throughout the Bethel Woods campus.

    The free outdoor installation will be open to the public until November 30, 2018. The special exhibit is on display during regular Museum hours through December 31, 2018.  

    Museum Summer Hours:

    April 30-September 3

    Open every day, 10:00am-7:00pm

    *Special hours on most Pavilion Concert days.
    ^Day of Show - The Museum at Bethel Woods will offer $5 admission two hours prior to show time for all evening concerts. 

    Please call ahead to verify museum hours after September 3 and on concert days. Access to the grounds is closed on Pavilion concert days. The Monument continues to be open to visitors seven days a week, all year long via West Shore Road.

    General support for The Museum at Bethel Woods is provided by a grant from the William and Elaine Kaplan Private Foundation.


    About Bethel Woods Center for the Arts

    Bethel Woods Center for the Arts inspires, educates, and empowers individuals through the arts and humanities by presenting a diverse selection of culturally-rich performances, popular artists, and community and educational programming.  Located 90 miles from New York City at the site of the 1969 Woodstock festival in Bethel, NY, the lush 800-acre campus includes a Pavilion Stage amphitheater with seating for 15,000, an intimate 440-seat indoor Event Gallery, the award-winning Museum at Bethel Woods, and a Conservatory for arts education programming.

    Through the in-depth study and exhibition of the social, political, and cultural events of the 1960s, as well as the preservation of the historic site of the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, Bethel Woods educates individuals about the issues and lessons of the decade while inspiring a new generation to contribute positively to the world around them. The not-for-profit organization relies on the generous support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to develop and sustain programs that improve the quality of life in the region and beyond.

    For more information please visit www.BethelWoodsCenter.org.

    About Blue Star Museums

    Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts,Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 2,000museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 25, 2015 through Labor Day, September 7, 2015.

    The free admission program is available to any bearer of a Geneva Convention common access card (CAC), a DD Form 1173 ID card (dependent ID), or a DD Form 1173-1 ID card, which includes active duty U.S. military - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, as well as members of the National Guard and Reserve, U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, NOAA Commissioned Corps - and up to five family members. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. For questions on particular exhibits or museums, please contact the museum directly. To find participating museums and plan your trip, visitarts.gov/bluestarmuseums.

    All summer long, Blue Star Museums will share stories through social media. Follow Blue Star Museums on Twitter @NEAarts and @BlueStarFamily, #bluestarmuseums, on Facebook and read the NEA Art Works blog for weekly stories on participating museums and exhibits.Museums that wish to participate in Blue Star Museums may contact bluestarmuseums@arts.gov, or Wendy Clark at 202-682-5451.

    This is the latest NEA program to bring quality arts programs to the military, veterans, and their families. Other NEA programs for the military have included the NEA/Walter Reed Healing Arts Partnership; Great American Voices Military Base Tour; and Shakespeare in American Communities Military Base Tour.

  • May 24, 2018 1:32 PM | Conner Wolfe

                The nonprofit museums of New York State are essential promoters of the arts and culture, education, and economic development in the diverse communities we serve; however, threats to the place of our museums as bastions of learning, creativity, and nonpartisan constructive conversation are stronger than ever.

                There’s an old saying in Washington, says Ben Kershaw of Independent Sector (although you might remember him from the AAM): “You’re either at the table, or on the menu.” As museum professionals, it is critical we be at the table and assume our responsibilities as advocates for our institutions, our missions, and the people we serve by taking on a deliberate and active role in influencing public policy.

                Despite potential misconceptions to the contrary, there are many ways for museums as charitable nonprofits to shape public policy without endangerment of our tax-exempt status. Two essential rules apply to charitable museums when engaging with public policy:

    1. always remain nonpartisan
    2. do not lobby “excessively”

                The Johnson Amendment of Section 501(c)(3) of Internal Revenue Code establishes a requirement that tax-exempt organizations classified under Section 501(c)(3) "not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” With this in place, 501(c)(3) organizations including many of our museums are welcome to influence public policy provided they remain nonpartisan in doing so.

                In his address to the National Prayer Breakfast in February 2017, President Donald Trump vowed to "get rid of and totally destroy the Johnson Amendment.” For more than 60 years, this important provision has required the nonpartisanship of and protected the trust vested in charitable organizations, including museums, to advance the collective public good. Should the Johnson Amendment be repealed, our charitable museums would be free to endorse and support or oppose candidates for office and to utilize collected tax-deductible funds in doing so.

                Organizations classified under Section 501(c)(3) may be disqualified from tax-exempt status “if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying).”

                The Internal Revenue Service has two means by which it may evaluate if lobbying is a “substantial part” of the activities of a museum or other charity: the “Substantial Part Test” considers a “variety of [unspecified] factors” and the “Expenditure Test” which provides clear definitions of lobbying activities and brackets of allowable lobbying expenses based on organizational tax-deductible annual revenue.

                Should your museum choose to accept its role as an advocate and a lobbyist, I would strongly suggest you consider electing assessment under the Expenditure Test as it provides clear limitations on what is and is not considered “substantial”.

                When we do engage in advocacy and lobbying, the museum field can be tremendously impactful. A recent study conducted by Oxford Economics for the American Alliance of Museums and with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation reported the tremendous economic impact of museums. United States museums:

    • ·         Directly support 372,100 jobs
    • ·         Indirectly support 354,100 jobs
    • ·         Generate a collective annual income of $15.9 billion
    • ·         Contribute $50 billion to the gross domestic product
    • ·         And contribute $12 billion in federal, state, and local tax revenue.

    The 1,700 museums of New York State (more museums than any other state in the nation) employ 33,000 people and have an economic impact comparable to the politically influential agricultural sector.

                Armed with this data, at the 10th annual Museums Advocacy Day in 2018 organized by the American Alliance of Museums, 335 museum advocates representing museums of all types and made visits to 395 congressional offices to lobby for the restoration of and an increase in funding to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).

                In February of that year, (as many of us no doubt remember,) President Trump proposed an executive budget that was truly appalling for our field. For the first time in the agency’s history, the IMLS was proposed for complete elimination with the justification that “it is unlikely the elimination of IMLS would result in the closure of a significant number of libraries and museums.”

                On March 23, 2018, about one month after Museums Advocacy Day, President Trump signed into law a temporary spending bill which included an additional $9,000,000 allocation for the IMLS above FY 2017 enacted spending. This ten percent funding increase to the IMLS after the dedicated actions of the museum field demonstrates that when we take on a deliberate and active role in public policy, museum advocates can and do make an impact.

                Former Speaker of the United State House of Representatives Tip O’Neill is credited with having said the phrase, “All politics is local.” While this statement is grammatically incorrect, the sentiment is accurate.

                Politicians always have the gaining and retaining of power as a major goal. Voters care about local issues and elected officials care about winning the loyalty of local voters. It is fundamentally the responsibility of a public policy-influencing museum advocate to tell elected officials that one of the issues constituents care about is the success of and government support for museums.

                While there are numerous actions museums can take to influence public policy, none is perhaps more effective than an in-person meeting with an elected official. A meeting at a museum within a policy maker’s district is an advantageous opportunity for the elected official to demonstrate their support for the community they serve. AAM has a handy guide on how to “Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum.”

                Should our museums choose to take on this responsibility as advocate and lobbyist, I beleive the conversation of how to do so should begin in the boardroom. Museums should engage in advocacy within the confines of a board-approved advocacy policy (as recommended by The Standards for Excellence Institute.) Such a policy should outline the process for making decisions relating to public policy and advocacy should define clear responsibilities of staff and board.

                While many of our museums think of advocacy as not within our purview, a growing number of museums are accepting our collective responsibility as public policy advocates.

                President Trump’s 2018 proposals endangered the status of museums in their communities and the defeat of his proposals demonstrates the collective power of the museum field in the realm of public policy. As museum advocates we MUST remind our elected officials why our institutions are essential in sustaining the public trust and fulfilling a common mission of service to our diverse communities. We have a responsibility to be advocates in the realm of public policy. Our missions demand it and the common good depends on it.

    Submitted by Conner A. Wolfe, Principal, Conner Wolfe Consulting

    Conner Wolfe Consulting is a sole proprietorship of Conner A. Wolfe dedicated to empowering the nonprofit sector, arts and culture, and students in higher education through capacity building services.

  • May 24, 2018 10:45 AM | Anonymous

    In May 2018, The Corning Museum of Glass will launch a statewide tour to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the glassmaking industry relocating to Corning from Brooklyn via New York’s waterways. GlassBarge will retrace—and expand—the journey by traveling from Brooklyn to Buffalo and doubling back to head south through the Finger Lakes, all over the course of four months. The tour will end with a celebration in Corning on September 22. GlassBarge will feature one of the Museum’s mobile hot shops aboard a canal barge, from which free, live glassmaking demonstrations will be presented along the way.

    In 1868, the Brooklyn Flint Glass Company’s equipment was loaded onto canal barges bound for Corning, NY. Once established in its new home, the company evolved into what is today known as Corning Incorporated. Since then, Corning has become synonymous with glass, and glass technology developed there has shaped the modern world. From the first electric light bulbs for Thomas Edison and the invention of optical fiber for telecommunications, to the glass used in modern flat screen displays, the way we live our lives has changed because of Corning’s advancements in glass.

    “The 1868 trip on the Hudson River and canal systems of New York State launched 150 years of glass innovation in Corning,” said Rob Cassetti, senior director, creative strategy & audience engagement at CMoG. “The success of the company led to the opening of The Corning Museum of Glass in 1951. We’re honoring this occasion by taking innovations developed by CMoG—namely, our patented electric hot shop and mobile hot glass programming—back to its roots: that notable journey along New York’s waterways.”

    The tour coincides with the Erie Canal’s Bicentennial (2017-2025)—for which GlassBarge is a 2018 signature event—as well as the centennial of the commemoration of the Barge Canal in New York State.

    GlassBarge will be moved along the waterways by the historic tug W. O. Decker—part of the fleet of the South Street Seaport Museum. Also accompanying GlassBarge on the journey will be the Lois McClure, a replica of an 1862 canal barge, and the C. L. Churchill, a 1964 tugboat, both part of the permanent collection of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum.

    GlassBarge is enabled through the generous support of grants from I LOVE NEW YORK, Empire State Development’s Division of Tourism; the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA); and the New York State Canal Corporation through Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Regional Economic Development Council initiative.

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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