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Museum Universe Data File

Purpose: The purpose of the Museum Universe Data File is to provide a list of known museums and related organizations in the United States.

Coverage: The Museum Universe Data File (MUDF) contains information about over 35,000 museums and related organizations in the United States including aquariums, arboretums, botanical gardens, art museums, children’s museums, general museums, historic houses and sites, history museums, nature centers, natural history and anthropology museums, planetariums, science and technology centers, specialized museums, and zoological parks.

Content: The Museum Universe Data File (MUDF) contains basic identifying information of known museums and related organizations in the United States.

Frequency: Data is reviewed and updated twice annually.

Methods: The data in this file is collected and aggregated from a variety of sources including IMLS administrative data and records, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) non-profit data (e.g., 990, 990-EZ, 990-N), grantee lists from private foundations and data obtained from third party commercial vendors.

Use: These collected data are useful to researchers, journalists, the public, and policymakers at the federal, state, and local levels. These data are used by federal, state and local officials, professional associations, and local practitioners for planning, evaluation, and policy making.

How will the data file be maintained?
This database will undergo periodic review and updates. IMLS encourages the public to examine the database and to contact the IMLS research staff if there are institutions that should be added or entries that should be deleted. IMLS is accepting comments at

Data File and Year CSV XLS Documentation
FY 2015, 3rd Quarter ZIP file, 2.7MB ZIP file, 6.2MB PDF, 140KB
FY 2015, 1st Quarter ZIP file, 2.8MB ZIP file, 5.4MB PDF, 35KB
FY 2014 3rd Quarter ZIP file, 2.5MB ZIP file, 5.8MB PDF, 91KB

Watch the Archived Webinars

Building from the Ground Up: A Long-Term Approach to Museum Data Collection
October 30, 2014. As we prepare for the release of the next version of the museum universe data file in December, we invite interested museum organizations to participate in the webinar, get an update on what to expect in December and beyond, ask questions, and provide input. Read Transcript (PDF, 49KB)
Note: Slides 12 and 13 may incorrectly imply broader eligibility criteria for IMLS funding through the Native American/Native Hawaiian Museum Services Program. Click here for information on this program and eligibility criteria.

35,000 Museums: About the IMLS Estimate and Data File 
June 11, 2014. A webinar was presented for interested stakeholders including museum staff, membership organizations, researchers, policymakers, and members of the media and public. IMLS Statistician Justin Grimes will discuss how the file was created and answer questions about it. Read transcript (PDF, 44KB)

For more information, see the Museum Universe Data File Q&A.