Advocate for Conservation

Our past is under attack. Hundreds of millions of artifacts and historic structures are in need of conservation. Yet in these tough economic times, federal, state, and local budgets for collecting and cultural institutions maybe facing cuts. We need to make sure our elected officials understand the long-term value of protecting our cultural heritage. Future generations should not be deprived of knowing and understanding their history, because priceless artifacts were allowed to fall into disrepair.

How to Become an Advocate

Advocacy is more important than ever. AIC continues to partner with organizations such as the American Association of Museums and National Humanities Alliance to advocate for funding and recognition for conservation and preservation in the U.S. However, we cannot do it without you.

1. Respond to Our Action Alerts

These most often take the form of email blasts from AIC asking you to contact your representatives in Congress to encourage them to support or oppose a particular piece of legislation. AIC often gets very little notice in advance of legislation votes, so short phone calls and emails sent to your members of Congress within 24 hours of receiving the AIC email are the most effective way to respond to these calls to action. It can also be useful to use our emails as a script if you are calling your Congress member. Recently, many have expressed issues with full email inboxes, busy lines, and full voicemail inboxes. This can be frustrating, but is ultimately a good thing! We recommend calling your representative's Washington office and their local office if you have trouble reaching a staffer.

One important piece of information to remember is that members of Congress DO listen to their constituents, and these emails and phone calls do make a difference. However, timeliness is what is important, not a well crafted email or letter. Congressional staffers often just keep tallies of those calling or emailing in for or against a particular issue. The result of these tallies is often the only information passed on to the member of Congress. 

So, when we ask you to take five minutes to cut and paste a message in an email and send it to your representatives, that is really all the time that is needed.

Success Stories:

  • In early 2009, Sen. Coburn attempted to prohibit museums from competing for or receiving any funds from H.R. 1, the economic stimulus bill. After a lobbying effort led by AAM in which AIC members were involved, the word “museum” was dropped from the final prohibition. Unfortunately, zoos and aquariums remained barred from competing for economic stimulus funding.
  • Later that year, an amendment sponsored by Senators Coburn and McCain – which would have prohibited ANY funding from the Transportation Appropriations bill from going to ANY museum – was defeated on the Senate floor after another AAM-led lobbying effect. Interestingly, a recent amendment that would have targeted museum funding proposed by Senator Coburn did not make it out of committee, which illustrates that building an effective lobbying effort can extend beyond a particular bill or amendment.

View our latest Action Alerts >>

2. Sign up for our Advocacy List
Join our advocacy efforts list. AIC is developing a list of members who would like to be contacted beyond emergency efforts to assist AIC in broader advocacy work for the arts and humanities. You would be sent additional email blasts when action was needed on federal issues and to keep you informed of actions being taken that might affect the arts and humanities. Also, we might be able to expand our efforts and advocate for state issues if needed.

You can join the list today by adding advocacy as one of your interests on your profile. If you have questions about how to add interests, please email the membership team at

3. Take Part in an Advocacy Day

Consider taking part in long-term advocacy efforts by attending one of the Capitol Hill Advocacy Days organized for arts and humanities professionals. These programs all include training sessions on how to be an effective advocate. The groups will make the appointments with your representatives for you. Also, most likely you will be attending appointments with other representatives in a group, which can help a first time conservation advocate. If we want conservation to have a greater role in arts advocacy, we need to be represented at these events. The following organizations have Advocacy Days you can participate in: 

These advocacy days typically take place in February and March, but dates change yearly, so be sure to update your calendars.

What You Can Do Any Day

While it is fantastic if you can come to a national advocacy day, there are still many other ways to advocate for conservation and the cultural heritage field. Contacting your representatives, sharing information from our Action Alerts via email, social media, and word of mouth is all essential. And even if you can’t make it to DC, you can still reach out to staff in your representative’s District Office. Setting up an appointment to talk about what you do, inviting them on a lab tour, or including them in museum events can lead to a greater understanding of the role conservation professionals play. By providing them with specific information and experiences tied to your institution, organization, or company, you help build the case for broader support. 

Advocacy is a long game! Be sure to voice your support for the field as often as possible by engaging with your representatives.

For help on gathering materials and making your case, contact Ruth Seyler, Director of Advocacy, at