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Variable Definitions:
Museums: The number of museums in a given area

Google Maps API

Years Available:

Methodology Note:

The original data comes at the point level. Our team spatial joined each point to 2020 Census Tracts based on Google Maps provided coordinates. Businesses are filtered based on having a “currently operational” status and being tagged as a “museum” on Google Maps.

Why are these variables important to measure?

Museums bring a sense of cultural preservation and education to cities across the world. Museums allow people to think, learn, and become more inquisitive global citizens.

Oftentimes, access to museums can be free of charge and serve as community spaces for families and individuals who may not otherwise have the opportunity. In a time with a growing wealth gap, museums build a sense of community identity and serve as a third place for people of all backgrounds to come together. Due to the variety of artifacts, art, and information that museums bring, these educational hubs can bridge generational and cultural divides by exposing individuals to different walks of life. Furthermore, museums are integral in the effort to preserve history and honor those who have come before us. From an economic perspective, museums themselves also attract tourist revenue and can contribute to the economic revitalization of a community. 

Recently, there has been a movement for the decolonization of museums across the globe. Historically, several museums ranging from the British Museum to the Denver Art Museum have illegally obtained artifacts from other historical sites and represented them inaccurately. As a global movement to acknowledge the remnants of colonialism, in 2021, President of France Emmanuel Macron vowed to return 26 African artworks to the country of Benin. Macron denounced the colonial pillage and African heritage existing in private collections and European museums. In actuality, France only returned a handful of objects, despite thousands of outstanding requests. Museums have become devices that help  shape colonialism and stories of conquests. Various museums and art collections across the world are responsible for the illegal looting of materials from many countries years ago. To this day, there are continued investigations that reveal the many objects that were historically stolen from other countries. As museums and art collectors become more aware of their moral responsibility and the place that colonization has in the art space, there is more that can be done to restore justice. 
Written by Rediet Retta


“The Importance of Museums.” Anderson Abruzzo International Balloon Museum Foundation. 2015. Link

“France returns 26 looted artifacts and artworks to Benin.” Reuters. Link

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