The Museums Council of New York City was founded in 1939 to improve professional museum practice through the exchange of knowledge and experience regarding the educational functions of museums. Membership is restricted to institutions that are not-for-profit, permanent establishments with a duly elected Board of Trustees, and operated in the public interest for the purpose of preserving, studying, interpreting, and exhibiting objects and specimens of educational and cultural value, including artistic, scientific, and historical materials. Museums thus defined include botanical gardens, libraries, zoological parks, aquaria, planetaria, historical societies and historic houses and sites.
Meetings are held bimonthly at member institutions to offer staff an opportunity to share ideas about exhibits, business, educational programs, and other current events in the museum and exhibition profession. Museums Council Member Cards are distributed annually to encourage staff to visit, explore, and keep abreast of the activities of other member institutions by permitting general admission free of charge.
The Council publishes a directory of member institutions on an annual basis.