Museum professionals who saw the need for museum staff and volunteers to work together to strengthen South Carolina’s museums founded the South Carolina Federation of Museums (SCFM) in 1971. Incorporated in 1984, SCFM is a nonprofit professional association that represents and promotes the state’s museums. Governed by an executive board elected by institutional and professional members, SCFM sponsors workshops and meetings each year that provide members with specialized skills and knowledge applicable to all areas of museum expertise. The annual conference of the SCFM is held in communities throughout the state, providing members an opportunity to visit and emulate the best of South Carolina’s local museums. In addition, members willingly share their expertise with other professionals and institutions through a formal volunteer consultancy service aimed at increasing the quality of museum exhibits, programs, and collections preservation.
In its advocacy role, SCFM worked successfully with the South Carolina General Assembly in 1987 to pass the Abandoned Cultural Property Act, one of the first in the nation. This legislation enables all governmental and nonprofit organizations to claim ownership of artifacts and property in their possession for which they may not have adequate documentation. As of 2006 SCFM had 261 members, including both institutions and professionals.