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'Museums in the UK' report from the Museums Association

The Museums Association released their report on Museums in the UK yesterday (3rd April). It summarises details on museum finances, audiences, outreach, the museum workforce and the economic impact of museums, based on a recent survey of over 450 museums across the UK, which was carried out in partnership with Museum Development providers including the South East Museum Development Programme.  


Some of the key findings are:

Museum Audiences

• Museums remain hugely popular with the public across the UK. Almost half of all museums reported a year-on-year increase in visitor numbers. This reflects positive government statistics on museum attendance.


Museum Closures

• At least 64 museums in the UK have closed since 2010, with 15 museum closures in 2016 alone. The majority of closures are the result of reduced public funding.


Museum Finances

• Many publicly-funded museums are facing a funding crisis. Local authorities in England have cut spending on museums and galleries by 31% in real-terms between 2010 and 2016, while devolved administrations have also seen substantial cuts. Across the UK, 24% of museums reported a decrease in public income in 2015/16, including 34% of local authority museums and 75% of independent former local authority museums.

• Museums of all types are succeeding in efforts to increase their earned income and fundraising, but require time and investment to maintain this momentum.


Museum Workforce

• Most museums reported stable staff numbers, with an average of 12 FTE staff per museum. However, publicly funded museums were substantially more likely to report a year-on-year decrease in staff numbers, with 26% of local authority museums, 55% of national museums and 58% of independent former local authority museums reporting staff cuts.

• There are widespread concerns about low morale and the loss of experienced staff across the UK.


Public-Facing Services

• Museums are prioritising public-facing services in the face of cuts, such as public events, temporary exhibitions and school visits.

• One in 10 museums reported not having control of its own website or not using social media.

• Museums are increasingly working with disadvantaged and under-represented groups to meet the challenges of a divided and unequal society.


Economic Impact

• Museums are important contributors to local economies, with an average reported turnover of £1.28m.

• Museums continue to form strong partnerships that boost tourism, research, economic development and regeneration.


View the full report here

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