Whilst it may appear to some that the United States of America are swiftly becoming a cultural wasteland, new data released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has declared that the current amount of active museums in the country now stands at 35,000, which exceeds the combined total of Starbucks and McDonalds outlets in the US.
This is indeed wonderful news, for the figures represent almost double the total number of museums which existed in the 1990s. Recent reports estimated that there are currently 14,000 McDonalds ‘restaurants’ in the US and a total of 11,000 Starbucks coffee shops.
Washington, D.C. based journalist Christopher Ingraham broke the story for The Washington Post, in which he maps the locations and whereabouts of the listed museums, but goes on to make an important point.
While most of us think of massive institutions like the Smithsonian and the Guggenheim when we think of museums, one lesson of the new data is that the majority of U.S. museums are small, nearly mom-and-pop affairs. Of the roughly 25,000 museums with income data in the file, 15,000 of them reported an annual income of less than $10,000 on their latest IRS returns.
The culture capital of the US may come a surprise. It transpires that Los Angeles County has a total of 681 museums, with New York housing 414. Chicago (Cook County), San Diego and D.C. make up the rest of the Top Five.
Ingraham goes on to note that there are very few ‘blank spaces’ left on the map, indicating that the trend for preserving history and culture is on the rise. Long may it last.