Arts and culture are key elements to thriving communities. From libraries and art galleries to museums, theaters and concert halls, these cultural institutions offer programs, resources and events that help forge relationships between places and people.

The United States is home to over 35,000 museums—more than any single fast-food chain, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Museums encompass historical sites, zoos and planetariums, and contribute $50 billion annually to the U.S. economy. 

Most Americans (97 percent) believe that museums are educational assets for their communities, according to American Alliance of Museums, and 89 percent believe that museums contribute valuable economic benefits to their community. 

Public libraries are also beloved community destinations. Before the pandemic, U.S. adults went to their local public library more often than they went to live sports events or the movies. According to Gallup, adults went to the library an average of 10.5 times in 2019, compared to an average of five visits to the movies and live sports events. Adults in low-income households are the most likely to visit public libraries, likely due to services such as free Wi-Fi, movie rentals and children’s activities.  

As cultural institutions re-open and roll out more activities, exhibits and programming, people are increasingly eager to start enjoying them again. About 60 percent of people say the pandemic will have little impact on how they interact with art, according to a poll by Artnet News. 

A May Ipsos poll indicates more good news, revealing that many Americans are feeling more confident about interacting with others and re-engaging in society. For example, more than half of Americans (54 percent) said they had gone out to eat, 59 percent say they had visited friends or relatives, and 31 percent reported they had already made summer vacation plans. 

Through creative promotional campaigns, places like public libraries, concert halls and museums can attract new audiences and re-engage with long-time supporters. Whether used to increase foot traffic at local arts fairs or boost engagement in library programs, promotional products can play an important role in connecting cultural institutions to the communities that love them. 


Throughout the pandemic, many public libraries, museums and other community venues transformed into vaccination sites. At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, for example, visitors could get their vaccine beneath the museum’s famous blue whale model. As a gesture of appreciation, the museum also granted guests free admission to the museum’s galleries.

While the need for community centers to serve as vaccination sites will fluctuate depending on local demand, many cultural hubs will maintain pandemic-related adjustments. This may mean libraries forgoing crowded indoor story hours for more outdoor programming, and art galleries and museums expanding their virtual tours. Promotional products distributors can work with cultural institutions to spread awareness about their updated community offerings.


Every year, museums draw about 850 million visitors, which is more than all major league sporting events and theme parks combined. 

Source: The Washington Post


According to a poll by Artnet News, safety is a key concern for most people before they return to a gallery, art fair or museum. 

67% say they are more likely to visit an arts institution if masks are required

69% say the ability to socially distance is a “very important” or “extremely important” factor in choosing whether to visit 


Almost 100 million more people visit their local library every year than sit down at their local movie theater (1.3 billion compared to 1.2 billion)

Libraries are visited more than 1.3 billion times each year, which is more than 10 times MLB games (68 million), NBA games (22 million), NHL games (21 million), NFL games (17 million) and NASCAR events (4 million) combined 

More than 172 million Americans have a library card, which is more than half of the U.S. population

Americans check out more than 2.1 billion items from their public library every year, which averages to 16 items a year for every American 

Source: Institute of Museum and Library Services


Here’s where museum-goers visited most often in 2019 (the most recent year data was available):

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: 6.7 million annual visitors
  • American Museum of Natural History: 5 million annual visitors
  • National Museum of Natural History: 4.2 million annual visitors
  • National Gallery of Art: 4 million annual visitors
  • National Air and Space Museum: 3.2 million annual visitors
  • National Museum of American History: 2.8 million annual visitors
  • California Science Center: 2.2 million annual visitors
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture: 2 million annual visitors
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum: 2 million annual visitors
  • The Museum of Modern Art: 1.9 million annual visitors

Sources: AECOM and Themed Entertainment Association


Americans view museums as the most trusted source of historical information, rating them higher than local newspapers, academic and nonprofit researchers, and history books. People even trust information at museums more than personal accounts by relatives. In fact, 80 percent of people rank museums as high on the scale of trustworthiness, outperforming grandparents (69 percent) and eyewitnesses to history (64 percent).

Source: American Association for State and Local History



Every year, museums spend more than $2 billion on educational programming and provide millions of hours of instruction to students and teachers, according to the American Alliance of Museums. Promotional products distributors can work with museums to spark students’ curiosity and create campaigns for everything from field trips to traveling exhibits. 


67% of museums have had to scale back on education or programming

53% of museums have laid off or furloughed employees

After reopening, 38% of museums have seen a shift toward more local and younger visitors

67% of museums replaced an in-person fundraising event with a digital event

Sources: American Alliance of Museums and Wilkening Consulting


Digital book-borrowing hit record highs in 2020. Libraries all over the world collectively loaned more than 289 million e-books, a 40-percent increase from 2019. Audiobooks saw a 20-percent increase from 2019, with more than 138 million checked out last year.

Source: Overdrive


As people become more comfortable stepping out and enjoying their favorite activities again, museum industry revenue is projected to increase 18.9 percent in 2021. This projected growth is also due to increased tourism. 

Source: IBISWorld


Kick off a reading program or welcome patrons back to the library with the I Like Big Books Kit. A reusable custom tote is packed with a slide-out magnifier with a light, a silver pen highlighter, lens cleaner and earbuds in a tube. 

Crown/IMAGEN Brands  /  PPAI 113430, S10  /   


From festivals to summer concerts, the Event Kit helps brands make a splash with attendees. The full-color zipper bag includes a cooling fabric mask, a coolie and a pack of hand-sanitizing wipes. 

BEST Promotions USA, LLC  /  PPAI 461689, S4  /


The 20-ounce Terra Vacuum Tumbler is an ideal choice for museum gift shops with its sleek design and rich color choices. The tumbler features 18-8 stainless steel dual wall construction with copper-lined vacuum insulation for optimum heat retention—it keeps drinks at the ideal temperature at least eight times longer than similar travel mugs. The easy-lift drinking spout and silicon non-slip band ensure it’s a visitor favorite. Choose from red, brown or blue; a drawstring pouch is included.

Starline USA, Inc.  /  PPAI  112719, S10  /


Community recreation centers can hand out the Colorama Stylus AM Pen when guests sign forms or check-in for classes or events. This retractable ballpoint pen with a built-in stylus features an antimicrobial additive in the exterior plastic parts, including the grip. 

Goldstar  /  PPAI 114031, S10  /


A fun item for museum gift shops, the premium acrylic Tangram features a full-color logo plus an optional logo on the base. Get this thinking game in either large or small sizes. It’s gift-ready, packaged in a sleeve with an instruction sheet. 

Toddy Gear  /  PPAI 516677, S6  /


Community theaters can give a round of applause for greeters, ushers and concession stand volunteers with the Takeya Traveler. This stainless-steel, leak-proof travel mug features a double-wall vacuum insulation, a contoured lid for easy sipping and a silicone base for quiet set-downs. 

The Allen Company  /  PPAI 113879, S5  /


With 80 lined pages, a bookmark ribbon and an elastic closure band, the Pismo Junior Journal comes in handy for keeping a reading log or jotting notes for a library’s upcoming book club. Choose from a handful of soothing shades. 

Logomark, Inc.  /  PPAI 110898, S12  /


Whether hands are flipping through books at the library or touching displays at a children’s museum, hand sanitizer can help keep guests safe. Keep these eight-ounce bottles handy at entry points and throughout community centers.  

Webb Company  / PPAI 143213, S8 /


This custom high-gloss jigsaw puzzle is just one of the products available for print-and-ship-on-demand orders with quantities as low as one piece. The 252-piece puzzle measures 10 by 13.5 inches and is printed edge to edge using a supplied 300 dpi image. It’s an ideal item to include in a museum webstore as no inventory is required.

Mia/Disrupt Sports  /  PPAI 698768, S1 /


Recipients will want to showcase this saxophone-shaped clock featuring fine details such as a mouthpiece, left and right keys, key levers, bell, bow and a hi-gloss brass-colored shine. It’s an ideal gift for music students and teachers, recitals and concerts. Other musical instruments are available including a guitar, piano and violin.

Minya International  /  PPAI 112523, S3  /


For a local theater company searching for volunteers, a full-color table cover from Beacon Promotions was an eye-catching way to draw attention at plays and musical events. The company set up a table with the three-sided table cover, enabling volunteers to sit behind the table and chat with visitors. The volunteers distributed literature about the theater, upcoming events and open volunteer positions, gaining the company visibility and the volunteer applications it needed. 

Source: Beacon Promotions


Audrey Sellers is a Dallas-Fort Worth-based writer and a former associate editor of PPB.