Museums Survey 2017

How funding cuts are affecting museums
The MA has been documenting the health of the UK’s museum sector through a series of surveys since 2011.

Our 2017 report is based on our annual Museums Survey (carried out in autumn 2016 in partnership with the Museums Development Network in England) and is supplemented with data and research from other trusted sources.

Key trends and findings from the report include:

Museum audiences

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

Museum closures

• 64 museums in the UK have closed since 2010. The majority of closures are the result of reduced public funding.

Museum finances

• Many publicly-funded museums are facing a funding crisis. English museums have suffered a 31% real-terms cut in local authority funding since 2010, while those in devolved nations have also faced substantial cuts.

• 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 report stable staff numbers, with an average of 12 FTE staff per museum. However, publicly funded museums are 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 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 reports not having its own website and 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.

Links and downloads

Museums in the UK: 2017 report (pdf)


Previous surveys

Cuts Survey 2015 (pdf)

Cuts Survey 2014 (pdf)

Cuts Survey 2013 (pdf)

Cuts Survey 2012 (pdf)

Cuts Survey 2011 (pdf)

Cuts Survey 2011 report appendix (pdf)

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