Museology Master of Arts Program

November 20, 2019

Social Value in Museums and Funding Priorities

Hayley L. Crew (2017)

Within the museum field, there is a general assumption and expectation that museums should and do have what is broadly characterized as ‘social value’. However, little research has looked at the alignment between the priorities of the field and the priorities of the key funders for the field. This study analyzed Institute of Museum and Library Services funding programs over the last 17 years, using them as a predicator for and reflection of the work that the museum field values. The concept of serving the public was seen across the reviewed grant programs, as reflected in consistent references to museums’ communities and the concepts of serving and engaging with them. Language around museum social work changed: there was a shift from serving the public to serving communities. In addition, references to museums’ service role became more explicit as program categories were linked to their impact on communities. Across the surveyed period, museum social work equally as important as work around education, whilst professional development was mentioned frequently across all surveyed grants. Technology was consistently funded, but appeared to become a less significant museum activity.

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


Crew, H., & Morrissey, Kris. (2017). Social value in museum and funding priorities. Seattle]: University of Washington.