Last updated: 10:00 PM ET, Mon March 30 2015

Museums Need to Make Your Summer Vacation To-do List

Features & Advice | Tom Bastek | March 30, 2015

Museums Need to Make Your Summer Vacation To-do List

Photo Courtesy of Thinkstock

As we come into summer and vacations are starting to be planned, activities are one of the biggest influencers of destination choice. Indoor activities are typically not planned and only an afterthought until the weather starts to get inclement. Often times, museums are totally forgotten about or excuses are made as to why people don’t make it to them.

The guys over at the Washington Post are pretty smart and Christopher Ingraham in particular is a data geek.  This is probably why I love when they crunch the numbers like they do. One of my favorite articles from last year continues to remain relevant as it pertains to the data revolving around museums. Christopher took every reason you have for not going to a museum this year right out of your excuse library.

Excuse #1: Museums aren’t very abundant.

The most recent release of data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services quite clearly calls out that there are 35,000 active museums in the United States.  Christopher then turns around and calls out the non-museum going Americans by saying, “There are more museums in the U.S. than there are Starbucks and McDonalds – combined.”  Bang! Pow! Zip! Excuse thwarted!

Excuse #2: There are no museums near me.

There are museums all over the country.  Look at the map below:

Unless you live in like Quay County, New México there is a museum practically right on top of you.  Christopher points out, “…even in sparsely populated rural areas [like]Storey County, Nevada, population 3,942, has 11 museums, including the Comstock History Center and the Fourth Ward School Museum.”  

Excuse #3: I am not that big a fan of history.

Well you might be in the minority there, as the Institute of Museum and Library Services Mamie Bitter points out, “We are in love with our history — at a very grassroots level we care for the histories of our towns, villages and counties," she says. These museums may be small, but they play outsized roles when it comes to the "informal learning" that happens outside of the classroom.  But even if you are not there are places that aren’t necessarily about history.  There are a ton of them that have absolutely nothing to do with history.  From the Abington Art Center in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania to the  Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts in Eatonville, Florida there is something for everyone.

So the next time you are in ordering a triple-venti-soy -French-vanilla-latte remember that there are plenty of opportunities when you travel or when  you are at home to get out there and take in a little bit of culture at one of over 35,000 museums in the U.S. 

“I have a grande museum of natural history and a tall museum of modern art for Tom?  Tom?”


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