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09/26/2019

Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission Addresses the Issues of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Access at Pennsylvania Museums

Harrisburg, PA – The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission (PHMC) will embark on a two-year initiative to help Pennsylvania museums foster diversity, equity, inclusion and access (DEIA) in their programs through a National Leadership Grant of $163,498 from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to PA Museums, Pennsylvania's statewide association serving museum professionals and institutions.

National Leadership Grants for Museums address evolving needs and trends in the museum field and contribute best practices, tested tools, and innovative partnership models for the entire sector. The projects will receive funds totaling $5,747,423, and the organizations receiving the awards are matching them with $6,215,564 in nonfederal funds.

"Diversity, equity, inclusion and access are at the forefront of American life," stated PHMC Executive Director Andrea Lowery. "Debates over black lives matter, marriage equality, immigration, living wages, LGBTQ rights, gender equality, religious freedom, and ableism permeate U.S. culture. PHMC, working with our partners, is embracing these DEIA conversations and embarking on the hard work of self-assessment and cultural change. The outcomes of this initiative will ensure that Pennsylvania's museums will have the tools to face this conversation head on."

PHMC, PA Museums and experts in accessibility will use these federal funds to design and implement a methodology and toolkit to help museums improve accessibility for traditionally marginalized communities. The two-year project, called Accessibility Excellence, will go beyond the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation to tackle the unconscious bias that creates and reinforces systemic barriers to access at all levels of museum operations. A combination of matching funds and cost sharing brings the total cost of the initiative to $451,819.

Following an initial research and development phase, 20 museums will pilot and evaluate the program. The project team will analyze data from the testing phase and refine the program for sharing with the museum community.

The accessibility toolkit will be shared through webinars, articles, social media and presentations at professional conferences, such as those sponsored by PA Museums. The tools will allow museums to establish their own accessibility baselines, meet national standards for museum access, and foster systemic cultural change in their organizations.

"PA Museums appreciates this support from the Institute of Museum and Library Services through their National Leadership Grants for Museums program," said Rusty Baker, Executive Director of PA Museums. "We are very pleased to work in partnership with the Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission and others on this project to help make museums more accessible to all Pennsylvanians."

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's libraries and museums. IMLS advances, supports and empowers America's museums, libraries and related organizations through grantmaking, research and policy development. IMLS's vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

PA Museums is Pennsylvania's statewide trade association serving museum professionals and institutions. Based in Harrisburg, PA Museums was founded in 1905 and during its long history was known as the Pennsylvania Federation of Historical Societies and the Pennsylvania Federation of Museums and Historical Organizations. To learn more visit www.pamuseums.org.

The Pennsylvania Historical & Museum Commission is the official history agency of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Learn more by visiting PHMC online at www.phmc.pa.gov or following us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn.

Media Contact: Howard Pollman, 717-705-8639

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