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What is a Museum ?

What is a Museum?

A museum is a non-profit, permanent institution in the service of society and its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits the tangible and intangible heritage of humanity and its environment for the purposes of education, study and enjoyment. (1)

How Many Museums are there in the United States?

There are approximately 35,000 museums in the United States (2)

What are the types of Museums?

  • Aquariums
  • Anthropology Museums
  • Art Museums
  • Art Centers
  • Botanic Gardens
  • Children’s Museums
  • Historic Houses
  • Historic Sites
  • History Museums
  • Local & State History Museums
  • Military Museums
  • Nature Centers
  • Natural History Museums
  • Science/Technology Centers
  • Sculpture Gardens
  • Transportation Museums
  • Visitor Centers
  • Zoos

Do Museums Make Money?

Museums are mission-driven organizations and a cornerstone of civil society.   In the United States, museums are non-profit entities granted tax-exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service with 501(c)(3) tax status they are exempt from federal taxes. Museums are financially supported through grants and donations. (3)

Starting a Museum

Starting a museum is a lengthy and complex project.  As with any complex undertaking, it is best to try to break the overall project into discrete parts.

How do you raise money for a museum?

Link: “Museum Fundraising” blog post

How do you get a museum job ?

Link: “Getting a Museum Job”
Link: “Getting Started in Museums”

How much do museum exhibitions cost?

Link: “2011 Museum Exhibition Cost Survey”
Link: “How Much do Museum Exhibitions cost?”

How do you create a museum exhibition?
Link: “Exhibition Design Part I – Planning”
Link: “Exhibition Design Part II – Design Phases”
Link: “Exhibition Design Part III – Fabrication”
Link: “Exhibition Design Part IV – Installation”
Link: “Exhibition Design Part V – Maintenance”
Link: “Exhibition Design Part VI – Evaluation”
Link: “Creating a Traveling Exhibition”

“How do you Start a Science Center ?”

Link: “How to Start a Science Center”

How do you increase museum attendance?

Link: “How to Increase Museum Attendance”

What is Museum Strategic Planning?

Link: “What is Museum Strategic Planning – Part I
Link: “What is Museum Strategic Planning – Part II Feasibility Studies”

Did I miss any Frequently Asked Questions?, if I did please add them in the comment section below, thanks! -Mark

Sources:

(1) International Council of Museums (ICOM) 2007

(2) According to the Institute of Museum and Library Services

(3) Exemption Requirements – 501(c)(3) Organizations

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at mark@walhimer.com.

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