The Maryland Museums Association 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.

“Museum Visit”, Composite Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop image, Maryland Historical Trust, 2014.

Our Priorities:

Museum Assistance Program:

The Maryland Museums Association (MMA) is coordinating a statewide advocacy initiative to reinstate the Museum Assistance Program (MAP) to provide operating grants to Maryland museums when we need it most. We are advocating for the inclusion of the $5M in operating funds in the State of Maryland’s FY 2024 Budget to reactivate this critically needed grant program at the Maryland Historical Trust (MHT). Long-term, MMA seeks to identify a stable and recurring funding source for this important program that has gone unfunded since 2011. This initiative will be MMA’s focus for the 2023 legislative session that runs from January through April.

MAP served the state’s more than 200 historical and cultural museums by providing grants, technical assistance, and networking opportunities from 1999 until 2011 – when the funding stopped. In 2016, the Maryland General Assembly required a report by the Maryland Historical Trust regarding museum and preservation funding. The #1 recommendation of that report was to bring back MAP which is still in statute at MHT despite receiving no funding for 12 years. Unlike other cultural and environmental grant programs with an identified funding source, 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.

The State of Maryland is a national leader in supporting our fragile environmental resources and dynamic fine arts museums and communities, but our lack of operating support for historical museums and collections makes us an outlier in our region. In FY 2022, the New Jersey Historical Commission provided $4,067,000 operating support grants to history museums. This year, the State of Pennsylvania is setting aside $15M in ARPA funding to provide operating grants to cultural museums.

As we approach the 250th anniversary of the founding of our nation in 2026, now is the time to support our myriad historical museums working to develop an inclusive commemoration that engages Marylanders in the unique and nationally important history of our state.

A $5M appropriation for MAP in FY 2024 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.

Museum Assistance Program Fast Facts:

Museum Funding Reports:

Maryland Historical Trust: 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 nearly 200 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.

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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