Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Responding to Funding Cuts as a Government-funded Museum

Thesis by Shuhang He (2017)

This research study analyzed how US museums survived the loss of government funding during the Great Recession in 2008. The adaptations and strategies that were adopted by museums in response to the Great Recession may offer indications for how museums might prepare for potential government funding shortfalls. In the current political environment, the worries about whether the federal and state governments will reduce financial support have become the mutual concerns of many museum professionals. Two methods were adopted for gathering data for this study: semi-structured interviews with seven museum directors and document analysis of IRS Form 990s on thirty museums in 2006, 2009, and 2011. The results showed that the diversification of revenue sources was the main factor that helped museums survive the cutbacks of government funding. The help from museum boards and the reprioritization of museum projects also contributed. In some extreme cases, community support made the significant impact on the survival of some museums.

Keywords: Class of 2017, museum, museum studies, museology, research, funding


He, S., & O’Donnell, Wilson. (2017). Responding to funding cuts as a government-funded museum. Seattle]: University of Washington.