This post first appeared on Kidspace Children’s Museum’s blog on March 19, 2019.
By Michael Shanklin
Museums Advocacy Day 2019 took place February 25-26 in Washington, DC. A new Congress convened facing an enormous list of timely policy debates, including support for museums.
In the museum field, we must keep making our case. Beyond federal funding, museums are significantly impacted by tax reform, education policy, infrastructure legislation, and more. Legislators do not know how museums are impacted if they don’t hear directly from us—the museums and people they represent.
Kidspace CEO Michael Shanklin, along with many of our colleagues from AAM (American Alliance of Museums) and CAM (California Association of Museums), set out for Washington DC to advocate for our museums! He met with the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and six Members of Congress. We spoke with Michael after his trip to find out what this event means to him for the greater good of all museums across the country.
Why is Museums Advocacy Day important to you? And what are some highlights from the trip you’d like to share?
“As someone who has been to Washington, DC, a number of times on business and personal travel, I had never taken part in efforts to advocate on behalf of museums, zoos, and aquaria. After receiving excellent training from the American Alliance of Museums, 300+ advocates met with their elected officials where our individual and collective voices were heard. Congressional staff members were so excited to meet with us, receive our appreciation for their hard work, and hear our requests to support our field. It was exciting to take part in our national political system. While we all know we are not perfect, we still have an amazing process and it was meaningful to be a part of that process.
“There were a number of highlights that I experienced while taking part in the American Alliance of Museums’ Advocacy Day. The first was the California delegation met with Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legislative aide who was bright and enthusiastic. He expressed gratitude for our collective efforts to visit with their office and share our support for museums. He also asked us to keep his office updated on California legislation that impacts museums as the Senator often looks to the California State Legislature for positive bills that she might introduce at the federal level.
“Another exciting moment was when we went into the Capitol building to meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s team. It was a very busy day on Capitol Hill and we did not have much time with her team, but they were clearly supportive of our efforts to advocate on behalf of museums across the nation. They shared that there was wonderful bipartisan support for museums.
“One final highlight was as I met with the eight California Congressional offices on my list, which involved eight miles of walking to and from offices, it was fun to see the pride of California represented in the various districts. I saw LA Dodgers logos, artwork from Californians, and local civic pride. It reminded me that our differences as United States citizens are what make us strong.” – Michael Shanklin, 2019
Are you inspired and wondering what you can do? Learn about advocating for museums here: YES, You Can Advocate!