Museums are not only important to our society and culture, they are essential. In addition to serving as community anchors, providing unique educational opportunities for people of all ages and protecting our cultural heritage, museums are a boon to our economy.

Prior to the pandemic, museums nationally contributed $50 billion to the economy, supported more than 726,000 American jobs and generated more than $12 billion in tax revenue — one-third of it going to state and local governments. (Editor’s note: This is outlined in a report by the American Alliance of Museums.) Each job created by the museum sector results in $16,495 in additional tax revenue. Every direct job at a museum supports an additional job in the economy, a higher rate than many other industries. In fact, museums and other nonprofit cultural organizations return more than $5 in tax revenues for every $1 they receive in funding from all levels of government.

Here in Missouri, museums have a $852 million total financial impact on Missouri’s economy; support 13,653 jobs; and generate $215 million in federal, state and local taxes. (Editor’s note: See the 2015 report from the Missouri Arts Council for the most recent data.)

Our legislators need to know the importance of museums in our communities and our economy and the dire impacts the pandemic has had on the field. Congress faces a vast list of policy issues to consider, many of which can have a lasting impact on museums. The Missouri Association for Museums and Archives is proud to be participating in Museums Advocacy Day 2021, organized by the American Alliance of Museums, to share the value of museums with new and returning legislators.

Among other issues, museum advocates will urge Congress to increase funding for federal agencies that help museums better serve their communities, such as the Institute of Museum and Library Services, and enact legislation to increase charitable giving and support museums’ expanding role in education.

We encourage citizens in our community to amplify our efforts. At the American Alliance of Museums website, you’ll find advocacy tools that let you convey your support for museums to your members of Congress with just a few clicks.

Linda Endersby is the advocacy chair for the Missouri Association for Museums and Archives in Columbia.

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