Wednesday, March 17, 2010

More Visitors, Fewer Dollars

The American Association of Museums (AAM) released an interesting report last month about museum attendance and funding in 2009.

The AAM surveyed its approximately 2,300 institutional members to ask how museums fared during this "year of recession." The responses are mixed.

Among the 481 museums nationwide that responded, 57% reported increased attendance in 2009, in many cases regardless of declines in funding. Among history-related institutions, about 59% of the respondents reported increased attendance.

The museums most often attributed the higher attendance rates to more marketing to local visitors, more people vacationing closer to home, new or special exhibits, and the relative low price of museum admissions among entertainment options.

Not surprisingly, the survey found that most museums experienced financial stress in 2009. Museums with larger budgets were more likely to experience "severe or very severe stress." The AAM defined severe stress as "bad, but I have seen worse in the previous five years," and very severe stress as "the very worst I have seen in at least five years."

Unfortunately for those of us looking for jobs in the area, the Mid-Atlantic region had the highest percentage of museums reporting severe or very severe stress.

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