In a reception this evening Rep. John Lewis will receive an award for his “long-standing support of the U.S. museum field” and “his strong leadership in the creation of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.” The awards ceremony will take place today February 26th, from 5-7 pm in the Kennedy Caucus Room, Room 325 of the Russell Senate Office Building. The ceremony is hosted by the American Alliance of Museums and the Southeastern Museums Conference (SEMC).

“As a courageous leader, Rep. Lewis understands the significance and impact of museums to tell the story of all Americans and preserve our national history and culture,” said SEMC Executive Director Susan Perry.

Other 2013 honorees are Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) as well as Rep. David McKinley (R-WV) from the House. The award recognizes both “long-standing support of the museum field over a public career, as well as specific initiatives championed by the Members.”

Lewis will also be honored for his commitment to sponsor the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, which he has sponsored in several Congresses. The act provides artists who create works of art the same tax deduction as collectors. Currently artists donate their work to a non-profit museum, they can only deduct the cost of the tools required to recreate a work of art, while collectors can deduct the retail value of the same work from their taxes. This inequity in the tax code has encouraged important American artists to donate their works to museums outside the United States or to sell their works to private collectors, which robs Americans of the opportunity to view these works in public settings in this country.

“Rep. Lewis is an inspiration to us all and his unflagging support of museums has enabled our field to inspire tens of thousands of Americans every day. This award is emblematic of our appreciation for the Congressman’s efforts,” said Ford W. Bell, president of the Alliance.

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