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.”

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