Since time immemorial, beautiful art
has provided food for the soul.
Support museums to bring art's sustenance to the people.
Admissions usually provide only a small fraction of the funds needed to maintain the mission of a museum. About 20% of museums' income from operations is derived from general admission fees. Government and private grant support in recent years has declined. Support from patrons is therefore more important than ever. Support your local museum. Volunteer service is also critical for museums to provide effective service in the community. As Tom Lidtke explains in his article on the intrinsic and unique value of museums:
Before making a major financial commitment
Individuals who are considering a financial commitment to a museum beyond annual giving may ask to see the museum's annual report. If there is minimal financial information in the annual report, donors can ask to see the Form 990 submitted annually by each nonprofit organization to the Federal government. The Form 990 contains financial statements, lists of trustees and key employees plus other operating information.
A commonly used source for retrieving a museum's Form 990 is GuideStar, a non profit organization which says on its web site "GuideStar's mission is to revolutionize philanthropy and nonprofit practice by providing information that advances transparency, enables users to make better decisions, and encourages charitable giving." (right: image courtesy GuideStar)
Another source for guidance in donation decisions is Charity Navigator. A quote from the non profit service's web site says: "Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator has become the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities. In our quest to help donors, our team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents. As a result, we know as much about the true fiscal operations of charities as anyone. We've used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best-known charities." (right: image courtesy Charity Navigator)
In an October 2004 article in Art Museum Network News titled "Defining Success in Art Museums," Maxwell L. Anderson, Research Affiliate at the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University expresses his opinion of the core mission of art museums:
Dr. Anderson's words underscore a trend for some museums to take on attributes of entertainment centers, which he believes may prove disadvantageous to museums' long term health. He calls for museum leaders to develop "...new metrics of success that more accurately measure their museum's long-term health and relative standing. In order to be worthy of adoption, these new metrics must have three attributes: Be directly connected with the core values and mission of the art museum; be reliable indicators of long-term organizational and financial health, and be easily verified and reported."
In discussing a survey which addresses questions museums face, Dr. Anderson quotes from one of the survey questions defining a positive visitation experience: "...An intangible sense of elation -- a feeling that a weight was lifted off their shoulders; a greater appreciation of specific works of art or a period or movement; an improved understanding of why some artworks are more valuable than others; a desire to return to the museum in the not-too-distant future."
Without diminishing museums' multi-dimensional role to "...preserve, enhance, interpret, research and extend the reach of collections on behalf of society, provide public service through education, display of art works, scholarship and related activities..." TFAO agrees that accomplishment of these visitor outcomes will bode well for museums' mission fulfillment and long-term community support.
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Links to sources of information outside of our web site are provided only as referrals for your further consideration. Please use due diligence in judging the quality of information contained in these and all other web sites. Information from linked sources may be inaccurate or out of date. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc. (TFAO) neither recommends or endorses these referenced organizations. Although TFAO includes links to other web sites, it takes no responsibility for the content or information contained on those other sites, nor exerts any editorial or other control over them. For more information on evaluating web pages see TFAO's General Resources section in Online Resources for Collectors and Students of Art History.
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