Museums in the UK 2018

Key indicators

Audiences and Visitors

• Overall, museum attendance was healthy – 46% of museums said that their visitor numbers had increased in 2016–17 compared to the previous year, although almost a third (32%) said that they had decreased.

• A significant number of museums (11%) reduced opening hours.

• A small number of museums (4%) introduced new admission charges.

Funding Issues

• There is continued pressure on local authority museum funding: local authority museums (39%) and independent museums formerly run by local authorities (54%) were the most likely to report reduced overall funds.

• Large proportions of these types of museum also experienced a decrease in regular public income (51% of local authority museums, and 58% of independent former local authority museums).

• But many museums reported relatively healthy finances – 37% said that their overall funds had increased, and 35% reported that they had stayed the same.

Public-Facing Activities

• Museums’ public engagement is strong, with a strong tendency for educational, public events and temporary exhibitions activity to either increase or remain the same.

• Museums are engaging with a wide range of groups, and not only traditional ones – for example almost half work on health and wellbeing projects (46%).


• In the sector overall, the number of museums that had undergone workforce cutbacks (21%) was balanced by those that had increased their staffing levels (20%).

• But local authority museums were much more likely to have made staffing cuts (34%) than grown their workforce (6%).


• Overall, 4% of the museum sector workforce are non-UK EU citizens.

• The museums most likely to employ people from this group were in Northern Ireland (7%) and Scotland (6%).

• Over a third of museums could have their staffing arrangements disrupted by Brexit.

• The museum sector has identified many risks relating to Brexit, alongside a smaller number of opportunities.

Links and downloads

Museums in the UK

Museums in the UK: 2018 report (pdf)

Museums in the UK: 2017 report (pdf)

Cuts 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)