Over the past several months, we have received a number of calls from individuals puzzling over attendance trends that they have been seeing. Many of these calls have been discussions about attendance pressure, with a few museums seeing downward attendance trends, and others not seeing the attendance growth they had projected.
In these discussions we explored both external factors, such as competition for leisure time, competition with other sources of information (e.g., visiting Wikipedia instead of the science center); demographic trends, compression of incomes & wealth accumulation, as well as internal factors, such as product, amenities, messaging, and the value proposition in terms of price & time commitment, especially as it relates to the product.
Today we are beginning a short series of posts on attendance trends, and though we’re not going to cover each and every one of those factors (though much of our larger body of research, both field-wide and client-based, delves deeply into these factors), we did want to share the results from a very quick survey of museum managers we ran last winter on general attendance trends as well as trends in admission fees and how those may, or may not, affect attendance.
Our quick survey was disseminated via this blog, and 196 of you very graciously took time to respond. But it should be kept in mind that this was a survey of convenience, and therefore may not be representative of the entire field. Additionally, it is not a large enough sample for granular segmentation, though we are able to look very broadly at the responses by museum type and admissions size.
To get us started, let’s first look at who responded. As you can see from the bar graph below, about half of respondents came from history museums, with smaller percentages from other types (respondents could choose all that apply).
Responding museums also represented a variety of sizes (as defined by attendance). Nearly half had yearly attendance of less than 50,000, a third had attendance between 50,000 and 250,000, and nearly a quarter had attendance over 250,000.
Now that we have a general sense of who responded, in our next post we’ll examine the five-year attendance and fee trends, and also look broadly at how different museum types and sizes fared.
What do you think? Simply click on “comments” below to share your thoughts (and if you are reading this from your e-mail subscription, go to our blog to comment).