The Long Island Museum Association concentrates on providing continuing education for cultural institution professionals. We seldom dip our toes in the tricky currents of politics. However we feel compelled in today’s political climate to state our support for the institutions we serve and speak out about the disturbing political trends that are being reported in the news.
Do we face as a nation serious issues? Absolutely. We do not dispute that. Our nation has faced similar issues in our past, which have been documented by local historical societies and museums as well as your local library’s history collection. Parallels to our current problems exist throughout the history of our nation.
Museums, historical societies and other cultural institutions both large and small exist to educate visitors in a hopefully entertaining way. Our job is to collect and examine all of the different threads that make up the life of the communities that we serve, and to weave those threads into a fabric of understanding before bringing it to your attention. We are the community’s collective memory in essence, a reflection of us, our community. Many of us have found that we can do a lot with just a little support. However we cannot create something from nothing.
The current government is planning to cut funding and possibly eliminate the last sources of funding that many of us need to thrive and in some cases what we need to survive. While it may not be readily apparent we do have a financial effect on our areas. Our visitors generally will stop and eat at nearby restaurants because many of us do not serve food. Our visitors may shop at nearby stores because many of us do not have gift shops and even if we do have a small gift shop, many people who come to our facilities as a destination are generally “making a day of it” and will seek out other places close by to spend their time and money.
When you think of a museum don’t just think of large places such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the American Museum of Natural History – most museums are much smaller. We can be as little as a single room in a library, or a tiny house, or in some cases a small cluster of houses – but we represent you and your history. If the Federal Government eliminates or severely cuts the funding of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), or the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) many of the funding sources we turn to for support of our local history are derived from these sources will also be eliminated.
Who will be our memory? It is so easy to think or say that someone else will do it. We learn history in school in terms of national events – but those national events would never happen without ordinary citizens in individual communities coming together to express their opinions as a collective whole. If you feel that someone needs to remember the events of yesterday, today and tomorrow - take five minutes out of your day and call your government representatives and let them know what you are thinking about the issues we as the people of the United States are facing together as one nation.
Amy Folk, President of LIMA & The LIMA Board
LIMA P.O. Box 1063 Huntington, New York 11743 firstname.lastname@example.org