Article Published: 01 Mar 2020

Office of Museum Services

We urge Congress to...

Support $42.7 million for FY 2021 for the Office of Museum Services (OMS) within the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the amount approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last year.

Sign appropriations letters expected to be circulated by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) and by Representatives Andy Barr (R-KY), Paul Tonko (D-NY), David McKinley (R-WV), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME).

Promoting Lifelong Learning and Protecting Our National Heritage

OMS enhances museums’ economic impact.

  • Museums are economic engines, supporting more than 726,000 jobs and annually contributing $50 billion to the U.S. economy and $12 billion in annual tax revenue at all levels of government.
  • OMS funding—which supports all types of museums including art, history, science, children’s, specialized institutions, and living collections, such as zoos and aquariums—plays a significant role in this economic impact by helping museums reach more visitors and spur community development.

OMS advances the role of museums in lifelong learning and as key partners in education.

  • Museums receive approximately 55 million visits each year from students in school groups, with art museums alone reaching approximately 40,000 public, private, charter, parochial, magnet, and home schools spanning nearly every congressional district.
  • The educational role of museums is at the core of their public service mission. They spend over $2 billion annually on education programming, roughly three-quarters of which is at the K–12 level.
  • OMS grants help museums give learners tools they will need in a modern economy: critical thinking, creativity, numerical literacy, problem solving, innovation, and communication skills.
  • Most museums tailor educational programs in coordination with state and local curriculum standards.

OMS helps museums care for their collections.

  • Museums care for more than 1 billion objects. The 2005 Heritage Health Index (HHI), published by the IMLS and the National Endowment for the Humanities, together with support from foundations, concluded that immediate conservation action is needed to prevent the loss of millions of artifacts.
  • A 2019 IMLS report on data from a 10-year follow-up survey on the HHI reinforced the 2005 report and concluded that preservation is part of the mission for a vast majority of U.S. collecting institutions. Yet many, especially small institutions, have not yet prepared for emergencies and have faced challenges in many actions related to preservation, including conservation practices with digital content.


Office of Museum Services Appropriations: FY 2010 to Present

FY10 FY11 FY12 FY13 FY14 FY15 FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19 FY20
$35.0M $31.5M $30.9M $30.9M* $30.1M $30.1M $31.3M $31.7M $34.7M $34.7M $38.5M

*This total was reduced to $29.2 million through sequestration under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act as amended by PL 112-240. Figures above are not adjusted for inflation and do not include program administration. Source: IMLS.

Background on OMS

Dedicated to sustaining a nation of learners, the Office of Museum Services at IMLS awards grants to museums to enable them to carry out educational programs, reach new audiences, and care for their collections. The agency supports museums as core providers of learning, both directly and in conjunction with schools, families, and communities.

IMLS has been regularly reauthorized by Congress with broad support, most recently in 2018 for six years. The Museum and Library Services Act of 2018 (P.L. 115-410) passed with overwhelming bipartisan support by unanimous consent in the Senate and by a vote of 331 to 28 in the House, showing Congress’ renewed bipartisan support for the agency’s programs and a renewed commitment to its funding. It was signed into law by the president on December 31, 2018. The Administration’s FY 2021 budget proposal, like prior years, is expected to call for termination of IMLS.