Early Italian Art Gallery © James Hudson, 2010

DCMS reports rise in museum visits

Rebecca Atkinson, 17.12.2013
More than half of adults visited museums last year
The number of adult visitors to Department for Culture, Media and Sport-funded (DCMS) museums and galleries reached its highest level at the end of last year since records began.

The latest Taking Part survey showed that 53% of adults visited a museum or gallery between October 2012 and September 2013 – up from 42% in 2005/06.

Attendance rates varied across the country, with 59.7% of Londoners visiting a museum or gallery in the last 12 months compared with 46.1% in the West Midlands.

Heritage sites also enjoyed a rise in visits; 73% of adults made a trip during the year and 30% reported that they visited a heritage site at least three or four times a year.

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said the figures showed appetite for culture is not on the wane.

“The truth is that people have an unflagging appetite for our arts, culture and heritage when they get the chance to experience it first-hand," he added. “We are living through a golden age in the arts and it’s great to have the evidence that people are continuing to make the most of it.”

The figures showed that wealthier people were more likely to engage with museums and galleries, with 63.1% of adult visitors in the upper socio-economic group compared with 39% in the lower group.

Visitors from black and minority ethnic (BME) groups were less likely to visit museums and galleries: 54.3% of people from white groups visited a museum or gallery in the last year, compared with 46.4% of people from BME groups.

Disabled people also had slightly lower engagement rates with 49% visiting a museum or gallery in the previous year compared with 56% of non-disabled people. This disparity was more prevalent for heritage visits, with 69% of disabled people visiting compared with 74% of non-disabled people.

Only 36.3% of people aged 75 or over visited a museum or gallery compared with 46.4% of 16-24 year olds and 57.7% of 45-64 year olds.

And 58.1% of those aged 75 or over visited a heritage site, compared with 64.4% of 16-24 year olds and 77.7% of 65-74 year olds.

The survey also showed that while 89% of adults had donated money to charitable causes in the last 12 months, only 30% had given to organisations in the culture, media and sport sectors. This was down from 33% in 2010/11 when the data was first collected.

Update
18.12.2013

The demographic of visitors to museums and galleries quoted in this article has changed. The story originally quoted 47.3% of people from white groups visited a museum or gallery in the last year, compared with 37.3% of people from BME groups - in fact the figures are 54.3% from white groups and 46.4% from BME groups.

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