Monday, February 27, 2012

It's Museums Advocacy Day!

Today and tomorrow are Museums Advocacy Day, an event sponsored by the American Association of Museums and designed to advocate for policy and funding issues that affect museums in the United States. Today and tomorrow there will be events on Capitol Hill that you can watch here. However, if, like me, you're not able to make it out to D.C. to make an impact in person, there are other things you can do.

AAM's E-Advocacy page is mostly for museums, but no one's going to stop you from also writing to your representatives and making a fuss about it via Twitter (#museumsadvocacy) or Facebook or whatever. The point is, do something. If you're reading this blog, you probably already know (either consciously or at least deep down) that museums are the safe guards and celebrations of our shared heritage, both material and intangible. As Americans, we have a particular responsibility to make the protection and preservation of our museums a priority because of the vast number of cultural memories and identities they serve. So jot off a quick letter to your state representatives! For reference, here's what I wrote to Senator John Kerry (with some help from the letter guides provided by AAM):

Dear Senator Kerry,

As a constituent, I know that you are pulled in many, many directions and must make difficult decisions every day about how to meet the needs of people like me and our community. I recently learned, through the American Association of Museums, how important it is that I take a moment to express to you why museums are so special to me.

There was recently an article in the BBC about how lack of funding in Bosnia has affected museums. During wartimes, the museum workers dodged bullets and bombs to protect the material manifestations of their cultural heritage and shared history. Now during hard economic times, Bosnian museum workers have not been paid for six months and are taking on part-time jobs to support themselves while they continue to work for their country’s museums. During World War II, museum workers at the Hermitage in Russia barricaded themselves in the museum’s basement tunnels and died of starvation and cold protecting their collections from the violence of war. And just a few years ago in 2003, Donny George risked his life during the American invasion of Iraq in an attempt to protect the Iraq National Museum from looters.

Museums are the safe guards and celebrations of our shared heritage, both material and intangible. When our way of life is threatened, we look to museums to remind us who we are and to keep our identities alive. As Americans, our museums contain a vast number of cultural stories and memories, giving us a great responsibility to make the protection and preservation of our many cultural identities a priority. We need to support our museums now so that we may not have to sacrifice so much for the protection of our histories in the future.

Essentially, I grew up in museums. As an adult, I continue to grow up in museums as I graduate from college this year and dedicate my life to museums; to figuring out how they work, how to make them work better, and how to continue to protect the world’s history in ethical and educational ways.

As a representative of our great state of Massachusetts, I hope you will remember how important museums are to me and provide support for museums in your future work.


Meg Lambert

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