Museums and Historical Societies

The 2006 American Association of Museums (AAM) annual meeting in Boston in April gave Heritage Preservation an opportunity to present Heritage Health Index data on museums and historical societies not previously published. A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections reported data from museums and from historical societies. However, for groups that serve the museums community—such as AAM—it can be useful to look at the combined responses of museums and historical societies. Together, museums and historical societies hold 22% of the 4.8 billion collections items in the United States. These graphs outline specific data points on historical societies, art museums (including art centers), history museums/sites (including history museums, historic house/sites, general museums, specialized museums, and children’s museums), and science museums (including natural history museums, science/technology museums, planetariums, and the non-living collections at arboretums, botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums, and nature centers). Note that only museums that have collections for which they take a preservation responsibility were included in the Heritage Health Index survey. For example, a children’s museum or science center with only teaching collections would not have participated. For a full explanation of how museums and historical societies were included in the survey, refer to Chapter 1, Heritage Health Index Development (pp. 8-9) and Chapter 2, Heritage Health Index Methodology (pp. 16-18).

Museums and Historical Societies Conservation/Preservation Needs

Museums’ and Historical Societies’ Percentage of Collections Accessible Through a Catalog (by type)

Museums and Historical Societies Using No Environmental Controls for the Preservation of Collections (by type)

Museums and Historical Societies with No Emergency Plan with Staff Trained to Carry It Out (by type)

Collections at Risk Because Museums and Historical Societies Do Not Have Emergency Plans (by type)