Here Is a Map of all 35,000 Museums in the United States


Ever wonder where the most museum-poor region of the United States is? (Alaska notwithstanding, that is.) Well Washington, D.C.’s Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) was wondering the same thing, so it went ahead and plotted the country’s 9,000 public library systems and its 35,000 museums on a pair of maps that reveal the extremely dense distribution of such institutions all over the country, except for a pocket incorporating southeast Oregon, northern Nevada, and southwestern Idaho, where the only museum for hundreds of miles is the George M. Benson Memorial Museum in Princeton, Oregon.

Though the IMLS’s Museums Count project is an ongoing endeavor, it includes institutions of all stripes, from art museums and galleries to aquariums, arboretums, historical societies, and zoos, making it the most comprehensive database of U.S. museums in existence.

“There’s always that joke that there’s a Starbucks on every corner,” Justin Grimes, an IMLS statistician, told Atlantic Cities. “But when you really think about it, there’s a public library wherever you go, whether it’s in New York City or some place in rural Montana. Very few communities are not touched by a public library.”

Another interesting fact from the map: The U.S.’s northernmost museum is the Inupiat Heritage Center at Llisagvil College in Barrow, Alaska. The institution, which opened in 1999, hosts exhibitions recounding the history of the Inupiat Eskimo people, and boasts both an artist-in-residence program, and an elders-in-residence program.

— Benjamin Sutton