Taxpayers foot the bill for history museums in seven of the 13 original colonies and contribute in some way to most of the privately operated ones in the other states. If a state has no public history museum, private historical societies often run one. On the societies’ nonprofit tax returns, “government grants” is listed as revenue, but the type of grant, state or federal or even local, is not specified.
Museum of Connecticut History, Hartford
The museum is part of the Connecticut State Library, a state agency. Among other exhibits: the Colt Firearms Collection, donated by the Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Co. in Hartford.
Commonwealth Museum, Boston
The Massachusetts state museum and part of the state archives. Currently: “Massachusetts Experiment in Democracy” traces the development of the United States, and features a trove of original documents, including the 1629 Charter of Massachusetts Bay.
North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh
The state has an entire division of state history museums, including the one in Raleigh and six others around the state. Raleigh museum features the “Story of North Carolina,” with a replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer and an original copy of the 13th Amendment.
South Carolina State Museum, Columbia
This is the state’s history museum, though it is also a multidisciplinary museum, and is funded by the public. Features South Carolina artifacts dating from 14,000 B.C. forward.
New Jersey State Museum, Trenton
State-run museum features cultural history, natural history and other disciplines. “Pretty Big Things” exhibit includes a 1,400-pound anvil and an iron pot used to render whale blubber.
State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
Funded and operated by the Historical and Museum Commission, a state agency. Currently: “Objects of Valor: Commemorating the Civil War in Pennsylvania.”
New York State Museum, Albany
Taxpayer-supported museum covers history, science, anthropology and art. There’s also the four-level New-York Historical Society Museum in Manhattan, which is privately financed. 2011 tax return lists eight officers earning six figures and “government grants” of $1.2 million, about 4 percent of total revenue.
New Hampshire Historical Society Museum, Concord
No state funding. Features the “Mystery Stone,” an egg-shaped object with carvings of a face, a tepee and other images unearthed near Lake Winnipesaukee in 1872.
Maryland Historical Society Museum, Baltimore
The historical society’s 2011 tax return listed government grants totaling about 15 percent of revenue. Currently: 200 stitchers will spend six weeks recreating the giant American flag that inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Virginia Historical Society Museum, Richmond
Mostly supported by private sources. 2012 tax return lists government grants accounting for about 7 percent of revenue. Currently: “Revolutions” features and compares songs of social change from 1860-65 and 1960-65.
Delaware History Museum, Wilmington
Run by the Historical Society of Delaware, which listed government grants of $169,000 in 2011, less than a tenth of total revenue. One-day tour next Saturday (July 20): “Buried Brew: Wilmington’s Forgotten Beer History.”
No state history museum. Rhode Island Historical Society runs the John Brown House Museum in Providence and receives about 29 percent of its funding from government grants. The public Museum of Natural History is run by the city of Providence.
No state history museum, other than the rather modest Georgia Capitol Museum at the statehouse. The Atlanta History Center (the Atlanta Historical Society), which comes closest, receives minimal government support. The Georgia Historical Society operates a research library and archives in the 140-year-old Hodgson Hall in Savannah, plus outreach programs, also with minimal government money. There is also the Georgia Museum of Natural History at the University of Georgia.