published Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

Count of U.S. museums revised, doubling old estimate

WASHINGTON — The U.S. government is revising its count of the nation's museums, saying there is double the number of museums compared with a 1990s estimate.

The agency responsible for providing federal funding to museums issued a count Monday of 35,144 museums nationwide. That's compared to an estimate of 17,500 museums in the 1990s.

The U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services says the count is based primarily on IRS 990 forms filed by nonprofit museums, botanical gardens, zoos, aquariums and historical societies between 2009 and 2013. The earlier estimate used a different methodology, relying on state museum association records.

Historical societies make up the largest share of museums with nearly 17,000 such groups.

The new count was announced in Seattle at the American Alliance of Museums conference.

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