Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Economics Dept.


Professor Michael Donihue

Second Advisor

Professor Samara Gunter


Through restricted donations, donors to private, independent not-for-profit US art museums are able to affect the prioritization of museum activities. Using annual data from museums’ Form 990s and AAMD survey responses, I test whether restricted giving affects a museum’s educational programming by analyzing the effect of restricted assets on education department performance indicators. I find that a percentage point increase in permanently restricted assets as a proportion of total assets is associated with a 0.1876 percentage point increase in education expenses as a share of total expenses. Through qualitative informational interviews, I recognize this impact as evidence that arts education is central to the purpose of museums in the twenty-first century.


arts education, nonprofit management, art museum, restricted assets, museum cost structures, donor governance