Number of US Museums Has Doubled Since the 1990s



The number of active museums in the US, currently at 35,144, is more than double the working estimate of 17,500 from the 1990s, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the government agency that is the primary source of federal funding for museums and libraries.

The news was announced on May 19 by IMLS director Susan Hildreth in Seattle at the annual conference of the American Alliance of Museums. (The data is accessible on the IMLS website.)

“Americans love their museums,” said Hildreth. “Museums of all types are a vital part of the American cultural and educational landscape. They are places where Americans go to pursue discovery of art, history, science, technology, and the natural world.” Hildreth says the data includes 16,880 historical societies and historic preservation organizations. The total figure includes museums of all disciplines, including botanical gardens, planetariums, children’s museums, as well as zoos and aquariums.

“Museums respond to the needs of their communities and are recognized as anchor institutions,” says Hildreth. She added, “this announcement is a special one.”

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.


Subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.

You are currently logged into this Artnet News Pro account on another device. Please log off from any other devices, and then reload this page continue. To find out if you are eligible for an Artnet News Pro group subscription, please contact [email protected]. Standard subscriptions can be purchased on the subscription page.

Log In