Illinois Museums and Cultural Institutions

Illinois’ many museums, historic sites, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, science centers, and presidential libraries number 1,300 in strength, and provide an important segment of the state’s educational, economic, workforce development, and tourism infrastructure.

- Illinois Museums educate 2.9 million school students each year

- Illinois Museums support over 210,000 teachers each year

- Illinois Museums enrich the lives of 15,000 volunteers each year

- Illinois Museums employ 5,600 people each year

- Illinois Museums spend over $483 million in goods and services each year

- Illinois Museums serve 19 million visitors each year


Museums and Cultural Institutions across the nation

- Employ more than 726,000 people

- Contribute $50 billion to our local communities, and generate billions more through indirect spending by our visitors

- Generates $12 billion in local, state and federal tax revenues

- Spend $2 billion on K-12 educational programs

- Host 55 million school student visits every year

- Host more leisure visitors than all professional sports teams combined – 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in museum or heritage activities

- Serve as economic engines – Government agencies that support museums see an average return on investment of over $7 in taxes for every $1 that the government appropriates.

It’s time to share our stories with our communities...

Museums are institutions with stories.  Throughout American history, museums have served as a sacred public memory; preserving our material culture, remembering the past, questioning assumptions, and serving as a safe place for innovation and research. They can illuminate our past and foreshadow our future.  Museums are an essential part of society- these places matter. Period.  The story of the American museum needs your to help tell it.  You have assets to the bring to the table: your vote, access to your patrons, the jobs you support, your positive educational impact, your role as a community anchor. Don’t settle for less than you’re worth. To thrive in the 21st century, museums need to share our story with decision makers and be the source of information for them to make informed choices about current issues.

What IAM does for the Illinois museum community

  • IAM is a voice with the state and national governments identifying public policy goals and objectives for the betterment of the museum community in Illinois.
  • We produce an economic impact statement for the Illinois museum community
  • Host of annual “Museum Day” in Springfield where museums can meet with their elected officials
  • IAM list serve keeps members up-to-date on issues of importance to the museum community

What can you do to advocate?

  • First talk about permissible activities regarding your institution’s organizational structure and rules to ensure political advocacy is allowed.
  • Cultivate relationships with local elected officials before asking for support! Provide them with valuable information regarding your museum and its relevance in a community and develop relationships with staffers and candidates.
  • Educate local legislators, candidates, and political parties on issues and legislation
  • Create a public policy agenda for your museum
  • Send surveys, questionnaires to legislators, candidates
  • Register voters, run get out the vote activities

What you can’t do

  • Do not endorse or oppose candidates you can serve as a resource for a legislator or collaborate with a legislator on a community event, but when that legislator is a candidate for office, you cannot as an organization support his candidacy, nor can you allow him as a candidate to support your organization
  • Do not make a campaign contribution from your organization
  • Do not work for election of a candidate in your official capacity or on your organization’s time
  • Do not coordinate activities with candidates
  • Do not have candidates sponsor activities (however, they are allowed to rent your facility for a private event.)  Waiving fees you typically charge or making exceptions to standard policy for a particular candidate is equivalent to endorsing and coordinating activities with a candidate. If you sell space or a mailing list, then it must be at fair market value and available for all candidates.