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Katrina Fundraising Update

Posted 3/106    click here

'07 Budget Requests to Congress are Good News for Museums
Posted 2/8/06     click here

Intelligent Design click here
Posted 12/21/05
Letter from Ed Able, CEO of AAM, regarding court decision.

Non Cash Gifts Issue, click here
Posted 5/25/05

Reversing Charitable Tax Treatment of Gifts
Posted 3/31/05

Letter from Ed Able, CEO of AAM:
Dear Colleague:

I wanted to contact you personally about an issue that you may also be following through Aviso and other AAM communications - that is the increased scrutiny of acceptable non-profit governance, financial reporting and charitable giving practices in Congress. I am deeply concerned about proposals the Senate Finance Committee is considering reversing the charitable tax treatment of gifts of appreciated property - especially non-cash gifts such as art, collectables, and real estate.

This issue may be familiar to those who remember the passage of the 1986 tax reform bill. That legislation eliminated the fair-market value deduction of gifts of appreciated property. This effectively stopped gifts of art and other collections to museums. AAM successfully led the 7 year effort to reverse the law. It was reinstated in 1993. We have an opportunity to prevent returning to that dark period in our history when an unknown number of objects never made it into public collections due to an unfavorable tax policy. The charitable community is mobilizing to educate Congress about the dangers of eliminating or drastically altering current law governing charitable gifts of appreciated property.

AAM is actively engaged and continues to work with the other associations and organizations that represent the nonprofit community. We are in policy discussions with Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Ranking Member Max Baucus, D-Mont., Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committee members as well as key staff. I also serve on the board of Independent Sector and on one of the working groups of the national Panel on the Nonprofit Sector which are leading the efforts on behalf of the charitable community to address both gifts of appreciated property and the larger issues of nonprofit accountability. I am committed to representing the interests of museums in all these discussions.

While legislation has yet to be introduced, I anticipate that when Congress returns to Washington the process of drafting legislation will begin. In the weeks and months ahead you will receive information and calls to action on this issue from AAM and many other organizations. I need you to join with us in this effort by responding to these requests to contact your members of Congress. Please take the time to educate yourself, your staff, your board, and other key stakeholders and community supporters on this issue so when you are called upon to act, you and your supporters will be educated and effective advocates. If you have specific questions, please contact AAM's Government and Media Relations at or 202/289-9125. You may also call me directly at 202/289-9110 to share any concerns you may have.

Edward H. Able, Jr.
President and CEO


The President's Proposed FY 2006 Budget to Congress
Posted 2/11/05

An analysis taken from:
NCH WASHINGTON UPDATE (Vol. 11, 6; 9 February 2005) Website at

On 6 February 2005 President George W. Bush advanced to Congress his proposed $2.57 trillion federal government budget for FY 2006 (the full budget document is available online at: Some Hill watchers characterize it as "one of the most special-interest driven budgets presented in a very long time." As anticipated, it guts many domestic programs -- some 150 federal programs are slashed or eliminated entirely. However, some federal history-related agencies and programs such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Department of Education's "Teaching American History" grants program did relatively well and managed to receive a
"level-funding" recommendation. Others, like the "Save America's Treasures" initiative were cut in half. Still others -- the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), for example -- were zeroed out entirely.

For better or worse, here are the numbers we currently have: For the Department of Education there is a $56 billion request that includes $119 million for the "Teaching American History" initiative. In all, some 48 education programs are slotted to be terminated in part in order to increase spending on the "No Child Left Behind" initiative and expand it to the nation's high schools.

For the National Endowment for the Humanities, $138 million -- the same recommended by the administration last year. Readers should keep in mind that because of inflation and increased costs of operations, level funding in actuality translates into a programmatic cut. Nevertheless, in an effort to expand its history-related activities, the NEH recommendation includes $11.2 million for the history-based "We the People" (WTP) initiative. Some of those funds would be used for new WTP-related activities, including support for projects to digitize copies of scholarly editions and to prepare reference works on important figures and events in American history and culture. And, there is a new national history competition for elementary and middle school students. Noting that this year's proposal does not reflect increases of 20 to 22 percent that the Bush administration has recommended for the NEH in years past, Jessica Jones Irons, the acting director of the lobbying group, the National Humanities Alliance, characterized the NEH proposal as "disappointing, especially given the White House's recent support for the agency."

For the National Endowment for the Arts, $121 million -- the same that Congress allocated in FY 2005.

For the National Park Service, the proposal is $2.25 billion, a 3 percent cut. The budget includes $38.7 million, the same appropriation as it received in FY 2005, for the Historic Preservation Fund. The budget
includes $12.5 million in matching grants to advance the goals of the "Preserve America" initiative which seeks to provide one-time assistance to help communities demonstrate long-term approaches to using historic
resources in an economically sustainable manner. In order to pay for that initiative, the "Save America's Treasures" (SAT) program sees its funding cut in half -- from $30 million to $15 million. According to Richard Moe,
President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation the cut "sends the wrong signal to the private sector -- a signal that seriously compromises the program's goals and undermines the leverage in value of the
government's role in stewardship of the places and objects that tell America's story."

The budget reflects a $615 million request for the Smithsonian and includes sufficient funds to complete the final phases of renovation for the Old Post Office Building that houses the National Portrait Gallery. For the
National Museum of American History there is a level funding recommendation, with some money to begin the long anticipated renovations to the museum.

For the Institute for Museum and Library Services, there is $262 million, up $21.5 million from FY 2005. For the museum services section, the request is for $39 million, a $4.1 million increase. Some of the funds would go for
a new program to fund African American museums and a related training program in African American history. For the library section of the IMLS there is $221 million -- again level funding.

For the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), there is $323 million -- about a 1.3 percent increase over FY 2005 figures. The recommendation includes $281 million for operations, and about $6.1 million
for facility construction. There is the requisite $36 million for the Electronic Archives Initiative, and $100,000 to enable the Inspector General to increase investigations of missing or stolen documents.

The most draconian history-related proposal in the presidents's budget is the recommendation to terminate all new grant funding and staff support for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Over
the last 40 years this small agency has awarded some $153 million to over 4,000 state and local government archives, colleges, universities, and individuals to preserve and publish important historical records that
document American history. The proposal to zero out the program in its entirety seems rather bizarre, especially considering that just last year the president signed legislation (P.L. 108-383) reauthorizing the
commission at a $10-million-a-year level for another five years. Also, just last month the White House appointed two new representatives to serve on the commission. The Office of Management and Budget has given little
support for the NHPRC over the years, and once again they have made it a target.

One hopeful sign for the NHPRC is that last year, when the administration advanced only a slightly less harsh budget proposal (one that called for the elimination of only 65 targeted programs), Congress ultimately agreed
to ax only five of them. If any lessons can be drawn from last year's budget battle, it is that programs that saw their funding restored managed to do so because each had its own dedicated and vocal constituency that was
willing to go to bat on behalf of the threatened program.

This year though, the effort to restore funding for programs targeted to take cuts or be eliminated will be especially challenging. Congress faces new pressures -- a record deficit projection of $427 billion for FY 2005,
an ongoing war against terrorism and new expensive homeland security needs, a costly war in Iraq (which is not even included in the budget proposal), and a steadily declining dollar that is having little impact on balance of
trade inequities. Clearly, the pressure is on Congress to regain control over spending. If the history and archives communities are to see the programs they care about hold their own or perhaps even grow slightly, they
will need to mount a concerted grassroots effort.

Anticipating the challenges advanced in the Bush budget, representatives of the Council of State Historical Records Coordinators, the National Association of Government Archives and Records Administrators, and the
Society of American Archivists, met last week and agreed to form a joint task force to focus on advocacy. In addition, the National Coalition for History, together with the National Humanities Alliance, and the Federation
of State Humanities Councils will shortly launch the "Humanities Advocacy Network" -- a new legislative action tool that will enable users to take direct action and communicate with governmental officials. You can
preview the new website by visiting: The network is designed to serve as the
central location for advocacy where those who care about supporting our nation's investment in education, research, preservation and public programs in the humanities can get information and undertake action.

Finally, in order to advance the grassroots lobbying effort, interested historians, archivists and others interested will be advancing the humanities through visits to Capitol Hill during "Humanities Advocacy Day."

Museum Advocacy Team - Action Alert
Contact Congress: Help support FY 2006 IMLS Funding
Posted 2/9/05

Message from AAM President and CEO, Edward H. Able, Jr.

February 7 - The release of the President's budget initiates AAM's year-long effort to secure appropriations for IMLS and other federal agencies that support the museum community. More funding for these programs means more money available to museums. Not unlike courting major donors, you need to work with your representatives in Congress to secure their support for these federal programs. As a field we need to be strong advocates and let Congress know how funding museums through IMLS and other federal programs can transform our communities and the lives of the people we serve. I know you can make a difference.

What does the release of the President's budget mean for museums?

Spending restraint is the key message from the FY 2006 Federal budget the President sent Congress. Among the primary federal programs that support museums, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) was the only agency whose proposed budget includes an increase over its FY 2005 appropriations. The FY 2006 request for IMLS museum services is $38.915 million which is a $4.19 million increase over FY 2005. First time funding is requested for a separate IMLS program authorized in the African American History and Culture Act at $2 million. A budget chart on AAM's Web site outlines the funding levels requested for IMLS, National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, National Science Foundation (and Informal Science Education), and the U.S. Department of Education.

This budget lays out the President's funding priorities and, more importantly, is the starting point for the Administration's negotiations with Congress. It may sound like Washington "inside-the-beltway" rhetoric, but members of Congress, agency officials and lobbyists alike are anticipating an extremely tight budget year in response to the growing federal deficit and continued funding needs abroad.

This year it will be crucial that museum advocates begin contacting their elected officials (especially appropriators) early in the process and do so often throughout the year to help ensure that funding supporting museum programs remain a high priority despite competing budget pressures. This is your chance to educate policymakers on this part of the budget.

Make your voice heard on museum funding right away.

Thank the White House. Even level funding is generous in this budget cycle. Let the White House know that you appreciate continued support for museums in a tight budget year.

Do your homework. Get to know a little about your elected officials and what he or she cares about. Visit the How to Get Involved in Advocacy section of the AAM website to connect to your elected officials. Make connections between the public services your museum provides and the issues that are top priorities for your elected official, such as education, technology or economic development. You will make an impression on your elected officials by demonstrating that you are knowledgeable about their key priorities and those issues affecting your community. Take the step of making key connections for them between their issues and your museum!

Regularly contact your elected officials throughout the year. A five minute meeting or phone call once per year does not an advocate make. Effective advocates build meaningful relationships with their elected officials by staying in touch with them and their staff throughout the year - both in the district office and in Washington, DC.

Join Museum Advocacy Team®, a network of museum professionals that educate policymakers and advocate for federal policies favorable to museums. MAT members receive alerts about national legislation and regulation affecting museum operations and are among the first to learn about and act upon breaking news items. As a MAT member, you can use your leadership to express your views and make museum related policy better. To be added or removed from Museum Advocacy Team ® , please contact AAM Government & Public Affairs at (202) 289-9125 or by e-mail at: .

Museums Advised to Check Bible-Era Relics By KARIN LAUB : Associated Press Writer
Dec 30, 2004

JERUSALEM -- Experts advised world museums to re-examine their Bible-era relics after Israel indicted four collectors and dealers on charges of forging items thought to be some of the most important artifacts discovered in recent decades.

The indictments issued Wednesday labeled many such "finds" as fakes, including two that had been presented as the biggest biblical discoveries in the Holy Land -- the purported burial box of Jesus' brother James and a stone tablet with written instructions by King Yoash on maintenance work at the ancient Jewish Temple.

Shuka Dorfman, head of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said the scope of the fraud appears to go far beyond what has been uncovered so far. The forgery ring has been operating for more than 20 years.

"We discovered only the tip of the iceberg. This spans the globe. It generated millions of dollars," Dorfman said. The forgers "were trying to change history."

The probe began after the Yoash tablet was offered for sale to the Israel Museum for $4.5 million two years ago. Scholars said the forgers were exploiting the deep emotional need of Jews and Christians to find physical evidence to reinforce their beliefs.

The indictment listed 124 witnesses, including antiquities collectors, archaeologists, officials from Sotheby's auction house in Israel and representatives of the British Museum and the Brooklyn Museum.

"This does not discredit the profession. It discredits unscrupulous dealers and collectors," said Eric Myers, an archaeology professor at Duke University in North Carolina.

The forgers would often use authentic but relatively mundane artifacts, such as a plain burial box, decanter or shard, and boost their value enormously by adding inscriptions, Dorfman said. Once the words were engraved, the forgers would try to recreate patina, or ancient grime, to cover the carvings, the indictment said.

The four men indicted were Tel Aviv collector Oded Golan, owner of the James ossuary and the Yoash tablet; Robert Deutsch, an inscriptions expert who teaches at Haifa University; collector Shlomo Cohen, and antiquities dealer Faiz al-Amaleh. The four are free on bail, police said.

A fifth person was indicted, but his name was not released because he is not in the country. Additional indictments were to be issued in coming days, said Shaul Naim, the chief investigator of the Jerusalem police.

Golan said in a statement Wednesday "there is not one grain of truth in the fantastic allegations related to me." He said the investigation was aimed at "destroying collecting and trade in antiquities in Israel."

Deutsch dismissed the indictment as "ridiculous."

Hershel Shanks, editor of the Washington-based Biblical Archaeology Review, said in a telephone interview: "Either this is going to be proven a horrific scandal or the greatest embarrassment to the Israel Antiquities Authority."

Shanks disclosed the existence of the James ossuary at a November 2002 news conference.

Uzi Dahari, a top official in the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a recent lecture that some of the forgeries were done by an Egyptian artisan who has worked in Israel for the past 15 years. His habit of bragging about his exploits in a Tel Aviv pub brought him to the attention of police, Dahari said.

Naim said many more fakes are apparently in the possession of collectors and museums worldwide.

Shimon Gibson, an Israeli archaeologist, said museums should review items of questionable origin. "Now it looks like we are going to have to go backward and double-check all our facts to make sure that what we thought was real really is," he said.

Last week, the Israel Museum said one of its most prized possessions, an ivory pomegranate scholars long believed served as the tip of a scepter for Jewish Temple priests, was also a fake.

The indictment listed the pomegranate as one of the items forged by the ring, but no charges were brought in this case because the statute of limitations expired. The pomegranate was bought by the Israel Museum in the late 1980s from an nonymous collector for $550,000.

In a statement, the Israel Museum expressed support for efforts to "end such criminal activities," adding that its investigation of the authenticity of the pomegranate was its own.

The investigation trained a spotlight on the sometimes murky antiquities trade in the Holy Land.

"It's a free-for-all market ... and there is no control over something that doesn't come from a proper excavation, photographed and documented," Dorfman said.

Board of Directors Approves First Code of Ethics For the American Association of Museums

WASHINGTON, D.C. (December 15, 2004) - At its November meeting, the Board of Directors of the American Association of Museums (AAM) approved a new Code of Ethics for the American Association of Museums. As a nonprofit organization dedicated to the public good, this document assures that AAM is accountable to the public, transparent in its operations, responsible in its stewardship of resources, and committed to excellence.

The new code offers guidelines on fiscal responsibility, conflict of interest, and personal and professional conduct, among other topics. It applies to AAM’s elected board of directors; its full-time, part-time, and contract staff; and all AAM volunteers, including the elected members of Standing Professional Committees and Professional Interest Committees, AAM/ICOM Board, Accreditation Commission, peer reviewers, National Program Committee, interns, and any individual appointed to serve on an AAM committee, task force, or working group on behalf of the museum community.

The Code of Ethics was prepared by a team of board and staff members and received wide review among AAM staff and volunteers.

The AAM Accreditation Commission has expected museums seeking accreditation to have an institutional code of ethics since 1997. In light of the increased scrutiny the nonprofit community has come under in recent months, AAM urges all museums to have institutional codes of ethics.

The Code of Ethics can be found under “About AAM” on the AAM website ( ).

IMLS 2004 Recipients from the MPMA Region click here

Posted 8/23/04

New York Times Promotional for Museums Throughout the Country (posted 7/24/04)

The New York Times would like to invite you to reach out to your membership to join the 850+ arts organizations throughout the U.S. and in Europe that have participated in Arts & Leisure Weekend. Help them boost visibility and enefit from the promotional and marketing power of The New York Times. There is no charge to be part of this program. Each organization simply needs to make a specia



Mountain-Plains Museums Association
7110 West David Drive, Littleton, Colorado 80128-5404
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