Museum attendance, and museum stress, up

March 3, 2010
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An American Association of Museums taken in January of 2010 (results published here) makes it appear that more people are taking advantage of museum offerings.

Some of the interesting results:

--More than 55% of museums noted an increase in attendence, with 14.6% seeing a greater than 20% boost.

--Science/technology museums noted the largest increases.

--62.8% of Midwest museums noted an increase--the largest reported for any region.

--Contrary to the "cultural tourism" push, one of the prime reasons given for the increases is "more aggressive marketing to local visitors."

--Museums that charged an entry fee were less likely to see increases.

--Midwest museums are near the top in reporting that they are under "severe or very severe stress."

There is a caveat or two: First, museums aren't consistant when it comes to tallying these numbers. Some include visitors to museum grounds while others don't. Second, the survey was completed by 481 museums, which may sound substantial until you note that there are 2,300 institutions in the AAM.

Even with those notes, is there something substantial to be learned here?

In tough economic times, have you spent more of your leisure time at museums?

I'm still running into people who don't realize that our Indianapolis Museum of Art is free. Is that news to you?

Oh, and for a satiric look at the issue, see a brief man-on-the-street report from the not-really-the-news site The Onion.

Your thoughts?

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  • Another reason
    Your article states the reports says "more aggressive marketing to local visitors" is a reason for the increase in numbers. could it be that people are sticking closer to home and using local resourses for vacations? Just a thought.
  • correlative evidence
    A rise in museum attendance is wonderful news! I would venture a guess that the increase in visitor numbers is in spite of increases in advertising, not necessarily because of it. Correlation does not imply causation.
  • Honest Abe
    Just a note - My husband and I love to pinball our way throughout the IMA - and it is a fabulous bargain (free!) In addition, I wanted to give props to the Indiana State Museum and its Lincoln exhibit. I have to admit I was thrilled to see the large number of people visiting the exhibit last Saturday!
    The museum has timed visits and they did an outstanding job of preventing the exhibit from experiencing a Lincoln logjam.
  • How about that art
    You mean the Seurat's "The Channel at Gravelines" is not an Ishihara color test plate? I never did see any hidden numbers in that painting.
    It is a privilege to live in a community with a free major art museum like IMA

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