The New York State Legislature passed A.9710/S.8934 “An act in relation to conducting a study of public and private museums in New York state,” unanimously in the Assembly on May 24th and in the Senate on June 2nd.
“This bill will make a difference to every museum in the state regardless of budget size, discipline, or location,” said Erika Sanger, Executive Director of the Museum Association of New York (MANY). The bill is headed to Governor Kathy Hochul’s desk and her signature would enable the act to take effect immediately.
“New York State’s museums are inextricably linked to our communities, economies, and histories,” Sanger said in a message to museum supporters. “Too many museums operate in a culture of scarcity, struggling to pay bills and wondering each year how they will keep their doors open. Museums need support to ensure they can protect and share their collections, to be strong community education partners and efficient economic engines generating $5.37B to the state’s economy.”
“Museums have long been synonymous with New York – from world famous icons like the Met, MoMA or Cooperstown to local history collections and cultural community hubs. Yet despite the fame and significant economic impact, our museum sector has no real “home” in the New York state government,” said Assembly Bill Sponsor Didi Barrett (AD 106). “Support for museums is spread across a host of state agencies, and many have no access to state funding at all. This legislation is a pathway to ensuring these beloved institutions have the support and stability to flourish in the 21st century.”
The Museum Study Act directs the New York State Department of Economic Development, in conjunction with the Empire State Development Corporation, Department of Education, Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of State, and New York State Council on the Arts to conduct a study of public and private museums in New York State.
It would identify and gather data about all museums in the state including information on size, hours of operation, visitor statistics, funding sources and amounts, and the subject of their collections. The report is expected to help communities, legislative representatives, and individual supporters learn about museum missions, audiences, and funding needs.
“New York State is the proud home of museums, large and small. From world class art galleries to volunteer run historical societies; these institutions are part of the fabric of our communities across the state,” said Senate Bill Sponsor Jeremy A. Cooney (SD 56). “They tell our stories, enrich our lives, employ creative talent and keep dollars in our local economies. As important as museums are to New York, these institutions lack an established funding structure in state government. I am proud to have passed new legislation directing a multi-agency team to conduct a study of public and private museums to ensure the protection of collections and an equitable funding structure in the future.”
In other legislative news related to the history community, Benita Law-Diao, board-member of Adirondack Experience (formerly the Adirondack Museum) and John Brown Lives!, which promotes social justice and human rights on behalf of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, was confirmed as the first Black appointee to the board of the Adirondack Park Agency.