Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum Week: August 6-10!
Make the Case for Museums: Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum
Now in its seventh year, “Invite Congress to Visit Your Museum” Week 2018 is set for August 6-10.
Inviting local, state and federal elected officials and their staff members into your museum is a uniquely powerful way to show them what museums are and what museums do – from world-class exhibitions to working with local students and community members on critical life skills. There’s never been a more important time to engage with the elected officials and stakeholders that represent your museum.
The August Congressional Recess is a great time to get started. In 2018, the U.S. Senate will be in recess during the first week of August, and the U.S. House of Representatives will be in recess for the month of August.
This detailed step-by-step guide from the American Alliance of Museums will help you schedule and plan your visits (any time of year!), and here are a few easy steps to get started on today:
Find out who represents you in Congress and your state legislature.
Send an invitation to your legislators’ offices.
Alliance Tip: Not the Director of your museum, but still want to get your museum involved?
Perhaps a formal invitation to Congress or your legislators shouldn’t come from you, but instead from the Director or another colleague. This is a great opportunity to talk with the Director about why you think advocacy is important, and why you think participation in this field-wide effort will help your museum build important relationships and demonstrate to Congress the essential work of museums. Think of it as an exercise in “making the case”— and about how you can convey in a persuasive way why your museum shouldn’t miss this opportunity.
Follow Up with the office after sending the invitation.
Find the name of the scheduler and call the office to follow up: “I’ve recently sent an invitation for Rep./Sen. ________ to visit my museum. Can I speak with your scheduler about this request?”
You can find Congressional offices’ local contact information, or visit the legislature’s or office’s website for local contact information. We recommend starting with the local office, but be aware that every legislator has their own scheduling process, so you may need to flexible. Be specific about why you are calling and what you are asking the legislator or staff to do–namely, visit the museum.
Continue following up over phone and email until a meeting is scheduled. If the member of Congress or elected official is not available the dates you originally suggested, offer alternate dates.
Consider the message you want to convey and programs you want to emphasize, such as:
- What makes your museum essential to your community?
- How much of your budget is dependent on charitable giving?
- What “unexpected” community programs are you offering?
- What under-served populations are you reaching and how?
- Have you received any federal grants and what projects have they supported at your museum?
Visit our Advocacy and Policy Issues pages to see our Charitable Giving, IMLS Funding, and IMLS Reauthorization Issue Briefs and for additional updated information about current issues affecting museums.
Invite board members, volunteers and visitors who have been inspired by your museum to participate. Let them know what to expect during the visit.
Tell AAM when the meeting will take place, or contact AAM with any questions you have.
Make your case. Complete an Economic Impact Statement and Educational Impact Statement so you can share them during the meeting.
Confirm details with the legislator’s office and your colleagues, and be sure to invite local Congressional staff to join the member of Congress on his/her visit.
Alert the media (before or after the visit) with photos, a press release, social media, etc. Members of Congress love media attention, so offer to coordinate with their office to maximize press coverage.
Assign a museum staff person to take photos and notes during the visit to ensure proper follow up. Share the photos online and in your museum’s next newsletter.
Learn more about your members of Congress (their interests, committees, and priorities) through their official websites (www.house.gov or www.senate.gov), the internet and their social media.
Learn more on AAM's Invite Congress info page.
And don’t forget, Monday, October 1st is the seventh annualSpeak Up for Ohio Museums Day, a virtual advocacy campaign to once again address your elected officials. Stay tuned to the Ohio Museums Association for complete details on Speak Up day 2018, and for ways you and your museum can participate!
Don’t forget to take photos of your visits, and share on Facebook and Twitter with #SpeakUpOhio and#InviteCongress!
State and district work periods are a critical and ideal time to connect with your legislators at your museum, but there is no start and end date for advocacy – it is an imperative duty for every museum professional! When you make advocacy part of your normal operations, you are creating a win-win situation for both your museum and museums at-large. Engaging in regular advocacy means, when the time comes, you will be in a better position to have a favorable impact on local, state, or federal policies that affect your museum.
Does your museum have a congressional visit or other advocacy actions in the works? Be sure to let us know!