The Maryland Museums Association is a volunteer-managed alliance of institutions that collect, hold, interpret, and protect the material and cultural heritage of the Free State. We advocate for state museum funding, equity in the profession, and authentic interpretation of our shared histories in service of increased cultural understanding.

Our Priorities

Museum Assistance Program Grants

Bill Tracking (SB0616/HB0688)

 Senator Guy Guzzone and Delegate Ben Barnes have sponsored and filed bills to fund the Museums Assistance Program:

“Maryland Historical Trust - Historical and Cultural Museum Assistance Program – Funding (SB0616/HB0688) calls for authorizing the Governor beginning in fiscal year 2025 and each fiscal year thereafter, to include in the annual budget bill an appropriation of $5,000,000 to the Maryland Historical Trust to be used to provide grants to museums under the Historical and Cultural Museum Assistance Program.”

We are thrilled to have Senator Guzzone and Delegate Barnes’ sponsorship and support of a bill to return funding to Maryland museums after more than a decade. MMA and our advocacy partners provided testimony in support of these bills in early February and SB0616 was voted out of the Budget & Taxation Committee with a favorable report on February 13.  As of today, our bill has passed third reader.

MMA will provide updates as the bill progresses on this website and through our email newsletters. Please make sure you are subscribed.

Advocacy Background

In October 2023, the Maryland Museums Association sent the following letter to Gov. Wes Moore requesting the inclusion of $5M for the Museum Assistance Program in the FY25 operating budget.  The letter was co-signed by Maryland Center for History and Culture, Maryland Humanities, and Preservation Maryland with support from Allegany Museum, B&O Railroad Museum, Baltimore Museum of Industry, Banneker-Douglass Museum, Catoctin Furnace Historical Society, Chesapeake Bay Maritine Museum, Historic Annapolis, Maryland-National Capital Parks & Planning Commission, The Peale, Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, and St. Mary's County Museums.

On behalf of the Maryland Museum Association (MMA), we respectfully request the inclusion of $5M for the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) in the FY 2025 operating budget. If recognized, this reactivation of the Maryland Historical Trust’s (MHT) Museum Assistance Program (MAP) would build urgently needed capacity within Maryland’s network of underfunded yet vitally important history museums. 

During this fraught time with many states restricting access to knowledge through book bans and restrictive history curriculums, Maryland has the opportunity to be a national leader in advancing inclusive, accurate, and empowering opportunities to engage with history. Our network of history museums is a critical part of the necessary work to bolster our larger cultural infrastructure in Maryland, but we need your support to continue our innovation and public service, leaving no history behind. 

MMA is a volunteer-managed alliance of institutions that collect, hold, interpret, and protect the material and cultural heritage of the Old Line State. We advocate for state museum funding, equity in the profession, and authentic interpretation of our shared histories in service of increased cultural understanding. MMA is helping coordinate a statewide advocacy initiative to reinstate funding for MAP and provide state funding to Maryland history museums when we need it most. 

MAP served the state’s then 300 (now 454) historical and cultural museums by providing operating grants, technical assistance, and networking opportunities from 1991 until 2011 – when the funding stopped. In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly required a report by MHT regarding museum and preservation funding. The #1 recommendation of that report was to reinstitute and fund MAP, which is still in statute at MHT despite receiving no funding for 12 years. 

Unlike other state-funded arts and environmental grant programs with identified funding sources, MAP was variable and subject to discretionary spending throughout its operation. Funding appropriated to MAP ranged from $200,000 to $2,250,000 at its peak over a decade ago. The State of Maryland is a national leader in supporting our fragile environmental resources and dynamic fine arts museums, but our lack of operating grants for historical museums and collections makes us an outlier in our region. 

In FY 2022, the New Jersey Historical Commission provided $4M in operating support grants to history museums. This year in FY 2023, the State of Pennsylvania is setting aside $15M in ARPA funding to provide operating grants to history and cultural museums. In FY 2022 and FY 2023, the State of Connecticut provided $24.6M in operating support to history and cultural museums. 

This type of operating support translates into the critical day-to-day activities that museums undertake to care for their collections and make them accessible to the public, including: 

• Competitive salaries for professional curators, historians, collections managers, and educators; 

• Specialized climate control, energy, security, and storage costs needed to preserve collections; 

• Outreach to incorporate community members and their voices into the work of museums; 

• Marketing and program costs to animate collections and bring history to life for all Marylanders. 

Without this essential and steady support, history museums of all sizes struggle to maintain baseline operations. Through a recent survey by MMA, we know that the majority of Maryland museums are housed within historic structures, they often do not have a historic structures report to prioritize maintenance, nor an emergency plan or succession plan. For example, struggling with heating costs and porous buildings, one local museum closes their facility in the winter sparing staff the cold but subjecting their archival collections to drastic temperature fluctuations that will ruin them over time. 

Our larger institutions struggle with frequent staff turnover losing invaluable institutional knowledge to state and federal cultural agencies offering higher salaries and benefits. In the worst-case scenarios, museums such as the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art or the Catonsville Historical Society have radically reduced their operations or shutdown altogether due to a lack of support and failing infrastructure. When a museum closes, their collections are frequently dispersed outside of their communities or into the hands of private collectors, and the fate of their historic structures becomes unknown or imperiled. 

A $5M appropriation for MAP in FY 2025 comes at a critical time as Maryland’s history museums struggle to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic—all while sharing irreplaceable collections and providing educational opportunities available nowhere else. As we prepare for the 250th anniversary of the American Revolution in 2026, our state’s history museums need dedicated operating support to participate in a sustainable and meaningful way that advances diverse stories. We urge you to include this recommendation in your formal budget. Long-term, MMA aims to work closely with the Moore administration to identify a recurring funding source for MAP to bring stability to the sector and match the support peer states provide their history museums. 

Maryland’s history museums are national leaders that create space for dialogue, strengthen communities, and engage citizens of all backgrounds in telling our state’s diverse story. We know they have an important place in your vision of a Maryland that leaves no one behind. We are here to provide additional information and look forward to working with you. MAP already exists in statute within MHT and only requires funding prioritization to make a transformational impact on our history museum sector. MMA and the undersigned institutions thank you for your consideration and belief in this important work. 

Our Partners in Advocacy

Allegany Museum (Allegany County) B&O Railroad Museum (Baltimore City) Baltimore Museum of Industry (Baltimore City) • Banneker-Douglass Museum (Anne Arundel County) • Catoctin Furnace Historical Society (Frederick County) • Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (Talbot County) • Historic Annapolis (Anne Arundel County) •  Julia A. Purnell Museum  (Worchester County) • Maryland-National Capital Parks & Planning Commission (Prince George's and Montgomery Counties)• Montgomery History (Montgomery County) The Peale: Baltimore’s Community Museum (Baltimore City) • Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture (Baltimore City) •  St. Mary's County Museums (St. Mary's County)

Museum Assistance Program Fast Facts

Funding for Semiquincentennial

Maryland's Semiquincentennial Commission known as Maryland 250, was re-established by Governor Wes Moore on July 3, 2023. The Commission is led by thirty-three Commissioners and staffed with two state employees. MMA is actively engaged with the Commission without having an appointment on the official body. Specifically, MMA seeks to be a hub of accurate information about the resources that might be available to practitioners and organizations in Maryland from Maryland 250 and other sources of technical or financial assistance.

As of February, Maryland 250 staff is now hosting stakeholder Zoom meetings every 6 weeks having started on and offering standing Zoom office hours. Each virtual convening will begin with a brief presentation; then, stakeholders will have an opportunity to share updates on the status of their 250th planning; and there will be an opportunity to ask questions of stakeholders from around the state. Additional topics planned include launching a local 250th Commission; funding and marketing for the 250th; service opportunities for the 250th; civic engagement and the 250th; and history. 

We encourage everyone to take advantage of these meetings as an opportunity to stay up-to-date and share information with each other on regional and local commissions and what individual museum folks are working on. Please email Maryland 250 Assistant Administrator, Erin Bode, at to request calendar invitations for virtual convenings and/or virtual office hours. 

Museum Funding Reports

Preservation, Survey, and Museum Funding Needs (Joint Chairman's Report (JCR), 2016)

For many years, Maryland was a national leader in providing support for the preservation and interpretation of our irreplaceable heritage. Historic preservation and history museum assistance programs were supported by the Maryland Historical Trust Grant Fund, a continuing, non-lapsing special fund. Despite demonstrated demand for these programs, appropriations to the MHT Grant Fund were suspended beginning in fiscal year 2012.

At the close of the 2016 session of the Maryland General Assembly, the Chairmen of the  Senate Budget and Taxation Committee and House Appropriations Committee directed  MHT to work with partners to evaluate the state of its historic preservation and museum grant programs. The following report addresses specific issues identified by legislators including need and demand for this type of  State support, funding options, staff capacity to administer these programs, and the experience of other states.

As this report demonstrates, the unmet needs of the state’s historic preservation and history museum community are substantial. Threats to our tangible and intangible cultural heritage continue to grow. State and federal sources of funding for cultural resource preservation have all but disappeared, leaving our local government and private sector partners with few options. 

PreserveMaryland: The Role of Museums and the Museum Assistance Program (2014)

The Maryland Historical Trust (MHT) Museum Assistance Program served the state’s historical and cultural museums by providing grants, technical assistance and networking opportunities from 1999 to 2011, with the cessation of grant funding. 

In September 2013, MHT launched a formal needs assessment. This paper is the culmination of the needs assessment process, which opened with a statewide survey. Focus groups brought together museum representatives to review the survey’s findings and to offer perspectives on future programming.

Statewide Preservation Plan

PreserveMaryland II is the current statewide preservation plan. It is a five-year guidance document for government agencies, non-profit advocates and others involved in historic preservation, archaeology and cultural heritage in Maryland.

Throughout Summer 2023, the Maryland Historical Trust hosted public meetings to solicit feedback about goals and recommended actions for new statewide preservation plan (2023-2031) – an eight-year guidance document for government agencies, non-profit advocates, and others involved in historic preservation, archaeology and cultural heritage. 

MMA co-hosted a museum stakeholder listening session and conducted a museum-specific survey to help inform the new plan. For more information contact MHT.

Economic Impact Reports

Maryland Heritage Areas Program: Economic Contribution Analysis (2020)

American Alliance of Museums | Museums as Economic Engines: A National Report (2018)

The Economic Impact of National Heritage Areas: A Case Study Approach (Baltimore National Heritage Area, 2017)

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