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Local Museum Leader to Join Hundreds of Citizen-Lobbyists
From Across the Country Feb. 24-25
Valdez, Alaska ─ Patricia Relay of the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive will travel to Washington, D.C. February 24-25 to exercise a right embodied in the First Amendment that many Americans overlook or take for granted: the right “to petition the government.”
Joined by other museum leaders from Alaska, Relay will be visiting members of Congress from the state to make the case for federal support of America’s museums. She will be among more than 300 museum professionals from across the country participating in the sixth annual Museums Advocacy Day, organized by the American Alliance of Museums.
Relay, however, belies the image of the typical Washington lobbyist.
“Today, political advocacy is perceived to be confined to well-heeled, well-connected lobbyists,” Relay said, “but the founders felt it was essential that average citizens not only maintain the right to petition the government, but more important, to exercise it. Legislators have a lot of issues on their plates, and we can’t expect them to fully appreciate our field unless we bring the message to their doorstep. We are intent on making sure Congress knows about the vital work museums do, and their role as educational and economic assets.”
Relay cited the programs the Valdez Museum & Historical Archive provides to Valdez, the Copper River Basin and Prince William Sound Alaska.
The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive strives to make measurable changes in community conditions and improve lives by offering enrichment opportunities in developing healthy children, families and community through our exhibits, cultural programs, education and historical interpretation. The museum fosters a “sense of community” by sharing the stories of our lives here in the Prince William Sound area while allowing for easy interaction among community members at exhibits, lectures, and presentations. The museum functions as a place of ideas and education. Museums are a natural gathering place for a community and through a variety of activities and events provide a conduit that helps build and strengthen inter-connections within the family units and within the community at large.
This is emblematic of the work museums of all types and sizes are doing nationally. According to the Alliance, there are more than 850 million museum visits annually in the U.S. – more than the attendance at all major league sporting events combined. Museums invest more than $2 billion in educational programs each year, serving Americans of all ages and income levels, in a variety of ways. More than 55 million school children visit U.S. museums each year, and museums are among the most trusted sources of information for Americans.
Another study cited by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that for every $1 in public funds invested in museums and other cultural institutions, there is a $7 return to community coffers, through cultural tourism and related economic activity.
Relay will be sharing these and other facts about museums with the Alaska Congressional delegation.
“Museums are essential to communities everywhere, as part of our educational infrastructure, as economic engines, and as community assets that improve the overall quality of life,” said Alliance president Ford W. Bell. “We feel privileged that Patricia Relay will be joining us in Washington for Museums Advocacy Day. The Valdez Museum & Historical Archive is doing extraordinary work in Valdez, Alaska, and the members of Congress from Alaska need to hear from constituents about how the museum serves its community.”
For more information on museums and their impact on communities nationally, visit www.aam-us.org.