Monday, April 15, 2024

Appropriations bill offers millions in COVID relief funding for museums and establishes two new Smithsonian museums

By Joe Kleiman, InPark News Editor

December 22, 2020 — InPark Magazine has been reviewing the 5,593 page “Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.” The bill includes both 2021 appropriations to government agencies along with over $900 billion in COVID-19 stimulus. The bill was approved by both the House and Senate yesterday and will head to the President to be signed into law.

Within the bill are a number of provisions impacting museums. Among them is a new relief category titled “Grants for shuttered venue operators.” Eligible people or entities within this category include live venue operators or promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, motion picture theatre operators, or a talent representatives, and museums. To be eligible, one must meet a number of additional criteria, including staffing levels, attendance, and revenue.

Discovery Place Science, Charlotte, NC. Courtesy Discovery Place

Museums are eligible under the bill for up to $10 million in federal grants. Rather than individually, the grants max out at $10 million for all museums operated by a single group. For example, Charlotte-based Discovery Place operates four science and children’s museums in North Carolina and all would fall under a single $10 millon grant.

There are no provisions in the bill to provide assistance to zoos and aquariums. However, twenty-four Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and Zoological Association of America (ZAA) accredited institutions are also accredited members of the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), and the accreditation and membership in the museum association appears to be to their advantage in applying for the federal grants.

Within the wider appropriations bill, the Institute for Library and Museum Services (ILMS), a federal agency that, among others, provides grants to and research and policy development on America’s museums, is receiving $257 million. According to the bill, the funds will be used to carry out its duties, including those established in the “National Museum of African American History and Culture Act of 2003,” which empowers ILMS with the issuance and funding of grant, scholarship, internship, and fellowship programs relating to African American museums.

Also within the appropriations bill is the establishment of the American Women’s History Museum and the National Museum of the American Latino, both to be part of the Smithsonian Institution.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney

“Building a Smithsonian Women’s History Museum, a testament to the women who helped build and shape this nation, has been years in the making and I am thrilled that we are finally set to pass this historic legislation,” said Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY). “For too long, women’s stories have been left out of the telling of our nation’s history, but with this vote, we begin to rectify that. Americans of all ages deserve to see and be inspired by the remarkable women who helped shape this nation – seeing role models doing the thing to which we aspire, can change the course of someone’s life. How fitting that we pass this bill as we mark the centennial of the 19th Amendment and in the year in which we elected our first woman vice president.”

Senator Bob Menendez (holding sticker) meets with Friends of the American Latino Museum

“We have overcome tremendous obstacles and unbelievable hurdles to get to this historic moment, but, as I’ve said before, Latinos are used to overcoming obstacles,” said Senator Bob Menendez (NJ). “Passage of the National Museum of the American Latino is the culmination of decades of hard work, advocacy, successes and set-backs in the movement to recognize Latino contributions to America’s history, economy and culture. With this vote, Latinos and Latinas across our nation will finally have their stories, struggles, and impact on our country validated by the United States Congress. As a first-generation Cuban American, I know what it’s like to feel invisible in a nation where Latinos are seldom celebrated. I am enormously proud of my role in getting this legislation over the finish line and cannot wait until the day when I can take my granddaughters to visit the National Museum of the American Latino in our nation’s capital.”

TOP PHOTO: United States Capitol. Courtesy Office of the United States Architect of the Capitol.

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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