Museums contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy each year.
Seventy-six percent of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities such as visiting museums. These travelers spend 60 percent more money on average than other leisure travelers.
The economic activity of museums generates over $12 billion in tax revenue, one-third of it going to state and local governments. Each job created by the museum sector results in $16,495 in additional tax revenue.
Every direct job at a museum supports an additional job in the economy. This is a higher rate than many other industries.
Museums and other nonprofit cultural organizations return more than $5 in tax revenue for every $1 they receive in funding from all levels of government.
Museum Management Statistics
According to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), there are more than 55,000 museums in the world, with the highest concentration in Europe (26,000 museums) and North America (17,000 museums).
The United States alone has over 35,000 museums, of which over 17,500 are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).
The largest museums in the world by collection size are the British Museum in London, the Louvre in Paris, and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
Museums come in different shapes and sizes, including art museums, science museums, history museums, natural history museums, and cultural museums.
Many museums are part of larger cultural organizations, such as universities, foundations, or government agencies.
Museums can be public or private, nonprofit or for-profit, and can operate with or without admission fees.
Museums also vary in terms of their budget size, staffing levels, and level of public funding.
Museum Visitation and Attendance
Museums are among the most visited cultural institutions in the world, with millions of visitors each year.
In the United States, museums had a combined attendance of over 850 million visitors in 2019, according to AAM.
The most visited museum in the world is the Louvre in Paris, which had over 10 million visitors in 2019.
Other top-visited museums include the British Museum in London, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the Vatican Museums in Rome.
Museums are especially popular among tourists, who often include them in their itineraries when visiting a new city or country.
Museum attendance is also influenced by the quality and relevance of exhibitions, the availability of educational programs, and the level of community engagement.
Museums are increasingly using digital technologies to enhance visitor experience and increase attendance, such as virtual tours, augmented reality, and online collections.
The use of mobile devices and social media is also changing the way museums interact with visitors, allowing them to access information, share feedback, and participate in virtual exhibitions.
The rise of virtual museums, which are accessible online, has also increased access to cultural heritage for people around the world who may not have the opportunity to visit physical museums.
Museum Funding and Financial Performance
Museums are typically funded by a combination of sources, including government grants, private donations, earned income, and membership fees.
The level of public funding for museums varies widely from country to country, and some museums receive no government support at all.
In the United States, museums receive an average of 30% of their funding from government grants and 20% from private donations.
Private funding for museums is often tied to the level of wealth and philanthropy in a particular region, with wealthy cities such as New York, London, and Paris having some of the highest levels of private support.
Museums face a variety of financial challenges, including declining government funding, declining membership and attendance, and rising costs for collections care and exhibitions.
Museums are also facing increased competition for funding from other cultural institutions, such as theater companies, performing arts centers, and historical sites.
To address these challenges, museums are looking for new ways to generate revenue, such as sponsorship and advertising, special events, and online retail sales.
Some museums are also exploring alternative funding models, such as social enterprise, public-private partnerships, and crowdfunding.
Museum attendance is an important indicator of financial performance, as higher attendance often leads to higher revenue from admissions, concessions, and membership sales.
Museums are also seeking to maximize their use of technology to increase efficiency, reduce costs, and better serve their visitors.
Museums and COVID-19 Pandemic
Early museum closures
All museums were closed to the public
Risk of permanent closure without support
33% of directors felt at risk, threatening loss of 12,000 museums and 124,000 jobs
Impact of PPP and SVOG
Critical lifelines, but attendance remains down 38% on average
Risk of closure with additional relief
17% of directors feel risk of permanent closure without additional relief
Financial losses since March 2020
60% of museums report losses, average of $791,000
60% of museums have budgets of $1 million or less
Museum Financial Management
Financial management is crucial for museums to operate effectively and achieve their goals.
Museums rely on a variety of funding sources, including government grants, corporate sponsorships, and private donations, to support their operations and exhibitions.
Museums also generate revenue through admissions, events, and retail sales, with the majority of museums operating as non-profits.
Effective financial management involves creating budgets, tracking expenses, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations and reporting requirements.
Museums are also looking for creative ways to monetize their collections and exhibitions, such as licensing agreements, loans, and collaborative exhibitions.
Museum Facilities and Operations
Museums must also manage their physical facilities, including the maintenance of buildings, equipment, and collections.
Museums are responsible for providing a safe and accessible environment for visitors and staff, with many institutions undergoing renovations and upgrades to improve the visitor experience.
Museums also play a role in community revitalization, with many institutions serving as anchor tenants in urban areas, revitalizing neighborhoods and attracting investment.
Effective facilities and operations management involves working with contractors, vendors, and suppliers, and managing energy usage, waste, and sustainability initiatives.
Museums as Economic Engines (Pre-Pandemic)
726,000 American jobs
Contribution to US economy
$50 billion per year
Participation in cultural activities
76% of leisure travelers participate, spending 60% more than other travelers
Tax revenue generated
$12 billion, 1/3 to state/local governments
Additional tax revenue per museum job
Return on government funding
Over $5 in tax revenue for every $1 received from government
Museums as Community Anchors
Ranking in Bloomberg’s Best Cities
Ranked based on leisure amenities, including museums
Ranking in Money’s Best Places to Live
Incorporates concentration of accredited museums
Museum Human Resources and Volunteer Management
Museums employ a diverse and highly skilled workforce, including curators, educators, administrators, and support staff.
The size and complexity of the museum workforce can vary widely, with smaller museums relying heavily on volunteers and interns, while larger institutions have hundreds of employees.
Effective human resource management is critical for museums to attract and retain top talent, ensure compliance with labor laws, and promote a positive work environment.
Museums are also using volunteer programs to engage members of the community, providing opportunities for people to support the museum, gain experience, and connect with others.
The use of technology in volunteer management is increasing, with online tools for scheduling, training, and communication helping to streamline and improve the volunteer experience.
Museum Technology and Innovation
Technology is transforming the way museums operate, from collections management and conservation, to marketing and visitor engagement.
Museums are using digital technologies to enhance the visitor experience, including augmented reality, virtual reality, and interactive exhibits.
Technology is also changing the way museums conduct research, using data analytics and machine learning to study collections and improve conservation efforts.
The use of digital platforms and online resources is also making it easier for museums to reach a wider audience, offering virtual tours, online exhibitions, and digital archives.
Museums are also exploring new business models and revenue streams, such as online shopping, memberships, and partnerships with tech companies.
Technology is also playing a role in the preservation of collections, with museums using digital tools to manage, track, and protect their assets.
Museums are investing in cybersecurity measures to protect their digital assets and sensitive information, including data encryption, firewalls, and regular software updates.
Museums Serving the Public
Museum attendance vs. professional sporting events
More people visit museums than attend professional sporting events
Online community served
Millions of teachers, parents, students, and home-schooled students
1 million hours per week
96% of Americans approve of lawmakers supporting museums
Programs for military families
Over 2,000 museums offer free summer admission to military families through the Blue Star Museums program
Programs for children on the autism spectrum, ESL classes, programs for adults with Alzheimer’s or cognitive impairments
37% of museums were free or had suggested admission fees, many others offered discounts or free days
Museums for All program
Over 600 museums have facilitated 3 million visits for low-income Americans
Reach to rural communities
26% of museums are in rural areas, others reach these communities with traveling exhibits, online resources
Museum Marketing and Branding
Marketing and branding are important strategies for museums to increase visibility, attract visitors, and generate revenue.
Museums use a variety of marketing techniques, such as advertising, public relations, and social media, to promote their exhibitions and events.
Museums also use branding to create a distinct identity and build a loyal following, leveraging the power of the museum name and logo to communicate the institution’s mission and values.
Museums are also using data analytics and market research to better understand their audience and target their marketing efforts more effectively.
In order to effectively market themselves, museums must also manage their online presence, using websites, social media, and email marketing to connect with visitors and promote their offerings.
Museums Partnering with Schools
$2 billion per year on education activities, three-quarters to K-12 students
School group visits
55 million visits from students in school groups
Teach state and local curricula in subjects such as math, science, art, history, and more
Impact on student achievement
Children who visited a museum during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading, math, and science in third grade
Museum Education and Outreach
Museums are dedicated to educating and inspiring visitors, using their collections and exhibitions as teaching tools.
Museums offer a wide range of educational programs, including tours, workshops, lectures, and online resources, to engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Museums are also seeking to reach new audiences through innovative programming and partnerships with schools, community organizations, and other cultural institutions.
The use of technology in education is also changing the way museums engage visitors, with the use of interactive exhibits, mobile apps, and virtual reality experiences.
Museums are also looking to expand their reach beyond the physical museum walls, using online platforms, social media, and digital media to share their collections and educational resources with a wider audience.
In addition to formal education programs, museums are also promoting informal learning opportunities, such as hands-on activities, self-guided tours, and themed events.
Museums are also exploring new ways to use their collections and exhibitions to address important social and environmental issues, such as climate change, diversity, and sustainability.
The use of technology in education is also increasing accessibility for people with disabilities, such as audio descriptions, sign language interpretation, and accessible websites.
Museums as Trusted Institutions
Regarded as highly trustworthy, second only to friends and family
Historical information source
Considered a more reliable source of historical information than books, teachers, or personal accounts
Museum Collections Management and Conservation
Museums are responsible for preserving and protecting their collections, which can include artifacts, artworks, specimens, and archival materials.
The size and diversity of museum collections can range from a few hundred items to several million.
The care and conservation of museum collections is a complex and ongoing process, requiring specialized knowledge, expertise, and resources.
The cost of collections care and conservation is a significant expense for museums, accounting for an average of 20% of their operating budget.
Museums also face the challenge of preserving collections in the face of environmental factors such as temperature, humidity, light, and pollutants.
Museums are using a variety of conservation techniques, such as climate control, preservation materials, and preventive conservation, to ensure the longevity of their collections.
Museums are also using digital technologies to improve collections management, including cataloging, database management, and image capture and analysis.
Table 1: Gender Statistics of Managers and Board Members in England
Table 7: Political Views and Support for Museums
Percentage of Approval
Museums are complex organizations that must navigate a variety of challenges and opportunities to succeed. From collections management and education, to marketing and financial management, museums must leverage technology, human resources, and effective management practices to achieve their goals. These 100 museum management statistics offer a snapshot of the current state of the museum industry, highlighting key trends and challenges facing museums today. Whether you are a museum professional, a visitor, or simply interested in the future of museums, it is clear that museums play a critical role in preserving cultural heritage, promoting education and awareness, and engaging communities. As the museum industry continues to evolve and grow, museums will continue to be important institutions that shape the cultural, educational, and economic fabric of our society.