The Welsh museum sector makes important contribution to the economy but has not yet recovered from the impact of the pandemic, a survey has found.
The Museum Spotlight Survey, which has been running since 2006, monitors and assesses the ongoing health of the museum sector in Wales.
The latest survey attracted 77 responses out of Wales’s 111 Accredited museums. It found that in 2022 there were more than 3 million visits to respondent museums, compared to 4.3 million visits in 2019. Museum visitor levels overall have recovered to 69% of pre Covid-19 levels.
Formal and informal learning sessions are yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels, with 320,000 learning participants attending sessions in 2022.Volunteer levels also remain down: in 2022, there were 1,893 volunteers contributing 180,137 hours of volunteer support, 32% fewer than in 2019.
The report found that museums make an “important contribution to the Welsh economy”, attracting local people and tourists, and driving visitor spend.
This benefits other business, particularly in the hospitality and accommodation industries.
The report also found that museums are making progress on the five recommendations of the Welsh Government’s Anti-Racist Action Plan: 55% of respondents said they had demonstrated a commitment to anti-racism in their governance and a similar proportion said they had taken steps to create a more inclusive working environment.
A quarter said they had positive recruitment strategies for under-represented groups.
The report found that Welsh museums have more than 6.3 million objects in their collections and almost all museums offer some online access to their collections.
“Spotlight 2022 is clearly showing that recovery from the pandemic is underway, but is far from complete or uniform across the different types of museums across the country,” said deputy arts minister Dawn Bowden.
“As a Welsh Government we recognise the importance of our local and national museum sector as a key element of our cultural life in Wales, and their provision for both locals and visitors. We are already providing support to help museums face some of the challenges which were raised in the report and look forward to working with the sector in the future.”
The Museums Association (MA) welcomed the report but said it showed the need to maintain public investment in museums at local and national level.
“We welcome this report which reveals vital data about the health and impact of museums in Wales,” said MA director Sharon Heal.
“This report demonstrates the positive difference that museums in Wales can make in serving underrepresented audiences and tackling issues of diversity and equality as well as delivering learning and engagement opportunities for all.
“However the report also underscores the impact of Covid, with disruptions to services still taking place in 2022 and visitor figures at only 69% of pre-Covid levels.
"Going forward we need to maintain public investment at a local and national level so that museums across Wales can continue to work with their communities to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”