Last week we shared the demographic results from our recent study of >40,000 museum-going households. But those results, while giving a good snapshot of the museum-going public, mask wide variations as museums of different types had markedly different responses. (Note: this is another data-heavy post . . . . if you would rather watch paint dry than read data points, we only have a couple more of these types of posts coming before we delve into the other findings.)
To find out how different types of museums differed, we segregated the results into four main categories of museums: art, science centers, history (including historic sites), and children’s.
Most of the 103 museums that participated in this project fell easily into one category, while a few fell into more than one category; for those museums, results were included in each applicable category. A handful of museums did not fall into any category, and there were not enough natural history museums or botanical gardens/arboretums to segregate those results with confidence.
This is what we generally found, by museum type (keep in mind that respondents are of regular visitors, not infrequent or casual visitors).
- Art museums. Have generally older visitor bases, with 65% of respondents over age 50. Only 18% of respondents are parents of minor children, and those parents that did respond have significantly older children; over half are in middle or high school. Respondents have the highest college attainment of any type, with 86% having at least a college degree. Additionally, 55% have at least one parent with a college degree. Generally, respondents are less diverse than the overall sample, with 92% identifying as white, and only 16% identifying as a minority.
- Science centers. Have generally younger visitor bases, with 72% of respondents under age 50. Two-thirds of respondents are parents of minor children, and most of those children are in elementary school. 80% of respondents have college degrees, and 53% have at least one parent with a college degree. Science centers have the most diverse sample, with only 84% of respondents identifying as white and 34% identifying as a minority. They do particularly well with Asian audiences, with 12% of respondents identifying as Asian - twice the topline (overall) average.
- History museums and historic sites. Like art museums, have generally older visitors bases with 65% of respondents over age 50. This sample is the closest to gender parity, with nearly 40% of respondents being male. A quarter of respondents are parents of minor children, and those parents have significantly older children; over half are in middle or high school. Respondents have the lowest college attainment of any type, with 78% having at least a college degree (though this is still three times the national average). They are also the least likely to have at least one parent with a college degree, only 45%. Respondents are the least diverse, with 95% identifying as white, and only 12% identifying as a minority.
- Children’s museums. Unsurprisingly have the youngest visitor base, with a whopping 89% under age 50, and 64% under age 40. Respondents are overwhelmingly female (89%) and parents of minor children (88%). Those children are significantly younger; two-thirds of respondents have at least one infant, toddler, or preschooler. 81% of respondents are college educated, and they are the most likely to have at least one parent with a college degree, 58%. Interestingly, despite being the youngest set of visitors, they also have the highest income, with 44% having household incomes over $100,000/year (compared to 39% topline average). And while respondents are not quite as diverse as science center respondents, they are significantly more diverse than art museum and history museum respondents.
In short, we found that art museums and history museums primarily draw adult audiences looking for adult experiences (and, interestingly, they also had strong opinions about children’s programming at these types of museums – we’ll have more on that in an upcoming post). And children’s museums and science centers primarily draw family audiences, looking for kid-friendly experiences (though science centers did have a small group of respondents looking for adult experiences as well). While these results are not surprising, there is a whole lot more we found, which we'll share in upcoming posts.
final demographics post will go up next week, and will be for those real data
geeks out there as it will go into excruciating
detail, picking apart the race and ethnicity responses. For those of you who would rather sit in
traffic than read more about data . . . . don’t forget . . . lots of juicy,
not-so-data-driven posts are coming up soon.
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