Fall in number of children visiting English museums

Cuts to blame, says GEM's Winterbotham
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Rebecca Atkinson
The number of children visiting a museum or gallery in England has fallen by nearly 10% since 2009/10 according to the latest Taking Part annual child statistics.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said that visits to museums and galleries by children has remained steady over the past five years – with 63.2% of five to 15-years olds visiting in 2008/09 and 60.6% in 2012/13.
But the detailed figures actually show that the number of visits by five to 10-year-olds has fallen from a high of 70.3% in 2009/10 to 63.2% in 2012/13. The latter figure is up slightly from 2011/12 when it hit a low of 60.9%.

Visits by children aged 11 to 15 have seen a sharper fall, from a high of 66.8% in 2009/10 to 57.6% in 2012/13.

DCMS figures for the number of children visiting a museum or gallery in the last year

Elsewhere, visits by children to heritage sites and the arts have risen over the same period.

DCMS figures for the number of children visiting heritage sites and engaging with the arts in the last year

Nick Winterbotham, the chairman of the Group for Education in Museums, said the figures were surprising as elsewhere visits to museums have been rising.

But he added: “It’s only to be expected given the number of cuts and the number of education jobs lost in schools and museums.”

Maurice Davies, head of policy and communication at the Museums Association, said more investigation was needed to understand whether the fall was down to fewer school trips or children visiting museums with their families.

“If these figures are accurate then this is a fall of nearly 10% and we really should be worried,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Eureka! The National Children’s Museum in Halifax, said: “We’re trying to counter any general downward trend through developments such as our new £2.9m All About Me gallery, which has attracted 152,000 visitors since it opened at the end of March.”

A spokesman for DCMS said: “The latest figures show the majority of children continue to visit museums, engaging in educational activities and experiencing firsthand the world-class collections that are part of the fabric of our society.”


We clarified that the article refers to English museums.

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