The Science Museum Group had the greatest number of child visits in 2014-15

Fewer children visit DCMS-sponsored museums

Rebecca Atkinson, 25.11.2015
But overseas visitors up as income from admissions also rises steeply, new figures show
The number of children visiting UK government-funded museums fell by 200,000 in 2014-15 compared with the previous year, according to performance data released earlier this month by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The figures, which relate to the 16 museums sponsored by DCMS, show that total visits increased by 4.1% in 2014-15, from 48.7 million in 2013-14 to 50.7 million.

But there was a 2.4% fall in the number of visits by children aged 16 and under, from 9.4 million in 2013-14 to 9.2 million in 2014-15.

Several of the museums saw a rise in child visits, including the National Gallery and the Horniman Museum and Gardens, both in London. But others saw a large year-on-year fall, including Tate, which had 562,000 visits from children in 2014-15 down from 989,000 in 2013-4.

The Science Museum Group, which covers five venues including the Science Museum in London and the National Media Museum in Bradford, had the greatest number of child visits at 1.7 million – but this was down from 1.8m the previous year.

Education visitors by people aged 18 and under rose by 24.4% between 2013-14 and 2014-15 across all 16 museums.

Tom Oleary, the Science Museum Group’s director of learning, said: “We’re delighted that once again the Science Museum Group is the most visited group of museums in the UK by children under the age of 16 and that the Science Museum remains the most visited museum by young people in school groups, with 2014/15 being another record year.”

Overseas visitors now account for 47% of all visits to DCMS-sponsored museums. This is up 10% from the previous year. Tyne & Wear Museums & Archives saw the number of overseas visitors nearly double year-on-year, with 42,882 in 2013-14 and 84,028 in 2014-15.

The data also show that self-generated income was £410.2m in 2014-15. This includes admissions to some permanent collections and temporary exhibitions, which increased by 15.9% year-on-year to £42.6m in 2014-15 across all 16 museums.


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The National Gallery saw the biggest year-on-year rise in income from admissions – from £1.4m in 2013-14 to £4.2m in 2014-15.

DCMS-sponsored museums generated £77.5m in trading income, such as retail sales, venue hire and reproductions, in 2013-14, up 8.2% from the previous year. The Horniman saw trading income rise from £149,804 to £204,383 over the period, while the Tate’s jumped from £25.8m to £30.6m.

Income raised through fundraising also rose by 20.6% across the museums in 2014-15, to £290.2m.

Elsewhere, the figures show that the number of museums borrowing objects from DCMS-sponsored museums fell from 1,657 in 2013-14 to 1,629 in 2014-15.


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MA Member
26.11.2015, 07:32
Increasingly overpriced London museums (and heritage sites) mean that I can no longer afford to visit London for a cultural break. I live in the North West so I also have to factor in the travel costs. I now spend my hard- earned income locally! With the huge increase in trading income, perhaps these museums could have free entrance days a couple of times a month? It's not just the unwaged that struggle financially!
MA Member
25.11.2015, 17:26
Visiting DCMS-supported museums from outside London can mean trying to see 2, even 3 exhibitions in one day to justify the travel costs. This can quickly stack up to a prohibitively expensive day, especially if children are involved too.