Statement from the American Association for State and Local History in Response to IMLS Report

Nashville, TN—On May 19, 2014, The U.S. agency that is the primary source of federal funding for the nation’s museums and libraries released a new estimate of the number of active museums in the United States.

The Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) announced that there are 35,144 museums in the U.S., more than double the agency’s working estimate of 17,500 from the 1990s.

What is overwhelmingly powerful about the data is that fifty-five point five percent (55.5%) of those museums fall into the history category:

  • History Museums
  • Historical Societies
  • Historic Preservation
  • Historical Houses and Sites

“The empirical data shows what we in the field have always known to be true, the vast majority of America’s museums and cultural sites are devoted to history. Yet history remains one of the most underfunded disciplines in the humanities and museum community,” said Lynne Ireland, AASLH Council Chair and Deputy Director of the Nebraska State Historical Society.

“This report confirms our belief that history organizations are crucial and that history is at the center of America’s cultural life. Together we must use this information to continue our advocacy and work for increased funding and recognition of history’s relevance to our communities and nation.”

imls report

About the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH)
AASLH has provided leadership and support for its members who preserve and interpret state and local history in order to make the past more meaningful to all Americans since 1940. AASLH is the only national association dedicated to the uniqueness of history organizations and the specific challenges of collecting, preserving, and interpreting history. Our membership includes over 6,000 individuals and institutions from rural communities, urban sites, small historical societies, and large history centers across the United States. For this diverse membership, AASLH offers programs and services that meet members’ needs while progressively advancing the goals and standards of the field of state and local history. From its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee, AASLH is proud to provide a home for those who work and volunteer in the field of state and local history. For more information, visit