History

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.

Our association has a long history of advocating for museums and the history field. We spoke up for the establishment of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) over a hundred years ago, and we continue to support the state agency’s funding and grants programs that benefit many organizations in our membership. We have worked at the local, state, and federal levels to secure museum funding or other kinds of support that make museums more successful. We bring a voice to the field when museums need to be heard, and we organize grass roots, non-partisan efforts to communicate the value of museums to state lawmakers.

Around 1980 PA Museums established an awards program to recognize exemplary work going on in museums and history organizations in Pennsylvania. Our awards program, modeled on the national awards programs at the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), has grown over the years to recognize emerging young professionals, volunteers, projects that transform institutions, publications, educational programs, and lifetime achievements in the field. Our nominations are judged on their own merit by a committee using a nationally recognized model that was developed by the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts to center on the impact of a particular initiative.