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Letter from Erika: Democracy and Advocacy

January 12, 2021 12:41 PM | Megan Eves (Administrator)

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963 by Rowland Scherman, Courtesy of NARA

Dear Members, Friends, and Colleagues,

On January 6, as I watched the white supremacist, fascist mob breach and defile the halls of Congress, learned about the stabbings at the Capitol in Albany, and read about the Confederate flag tied to the door of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, I was stunned. After a couple of anxiety-filled days and mindless activity, I moved to a place of outrage and renewed my commitment to take action and speak out.

The violent, attempted overthrow of our democratic republic on January 6 has renewed my commitment to defend the Constitutional rights of all who call the United States home. The House of Representatives has drawn up Articles of Impeachment against the man who occupies our nation’s highest political office for inciting violence against the government of the United States. I hope you have contacted your legislators to express your outrage at this attempted insurrection and the preferential treatment of the white perpetrators.

I stand with those who believe statements without action are an insufficient response to tyranny. In 2019, we secured a twelve-venue tour of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street exhibition Voices and Votes: Democracy in America to help New York museums address the ways in which our nation has been wrenched through years of ineffective and racist leadership.


The exhibition will begin its New York tour in March of 2024 and conclude in January of 2026. MANY will help museums prepare companion exhibitions and programs to tell their community’s story and engage audiences in the democratic process. The project will culminate with a single exhibition distilled from the twelve companion exhibitions. It will open in time to commemorate the 250th Anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence and help museums promote the role of New Yorkers in the growth of our republic.

History teaches us that this is not the first time our democratic republic has been under siege from within. Museums must use their resources to engage our communities in the process of democracy. You can read more about the exhibition here and look for information soon about how to participate in the New York tour of Voices and Votes: Democracy in America.

Join us for AAM’s virtual Museums Advocacy Day on February 22 and 23 to call attention to the essential role of museums in our democracy and the critical need for federal support. In the past, the cost of travel and registration has been a barrier to participation for many museum professionals. This year, MANY members are eligible for the $25 discounted registration for the virtual program.

Call the MANY office or send an email to and we will send you the registration discount code. AAM arranges the meetings so you can speak to your Legislators and make your case virtually. In advance of the legislative meetings, AAM provides a day of advocacy training. I will be on a panel about advocacy at the state level and hope that you will join us to show that New Yorkers can speak out in the face of the most adverse of circumstances.

On Friday, January 22 at noon, we will host a Virtual Meet-Up to reflect together on “Where We Are Now.” Marisa Wigglesworth, President and CEO, Buffalo Museum of Science and Tifft Nature Preserve; Billye Chabot, Executive Director, Seward House Museum; and Michael Galban, Curator, Seneca Art & Cultural Center at Ganondagan State Historic Site will lead the conversation.

Submit your questions for discussion when you register. I am really looking forward to when we can gather safely in person, but until then, see you January 22 on Zoom.

With thanks,

Erika Sanger

Executive Director

The Museum Association of New York helps shape a better future for museums and museum professionals by uplifting best practices and building organizational capacity through advocacy, training, and networking opportunities.

Museum Association of New York is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization. 

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