How easy is it to reach England's museums? 8/4/2017

New research by Nesta assesses how easy or difficult it is to reach England’s 1,300 accredited museums – for the local population and for those from further afield. Nesta has produced an online interactive map measuring three aspects:

  • How far on average the UK population is from museums.
  • Size of the population in the vicinity of a museum. For example, Tate St Ives has 31,689 people living within 10km with a deprived communities rate of 10%.
  • Number of museums in a local authority area relative to its population.


The report found that:

  • Those with access to means of transport are generally well served, with 90% of the population having 25 accredited museums within 40km of their home.
  • Many of the most deprived areas of the UK are in cities and close to accredited museums – meaning that programming which appeals to these groups rather than physical inaccessibility is in many cases the major factor.
  • London has the third lowest number of museums of all English regions, but some of these are among the largest in the country, and it has the highest density of museums per sq km.
  • The South East has the largest number of museums (233), the South West has the highest number of museums per head, at 3.3 per 100,000 people.
  • Cornwall, Westminster and Camden have the highest number of museums by local authority at 31, 23 and 22 respectively.
  • The local authorities with most museums per head of population are the City of London, Ryedale and the Isles of Scilly.

The extent of public transport by area is not included in the calculations: a museum 5km away may be easy to reach in a city, but take much more determination to reach for rural populations with no car. In areas like Ryedale, historical sites are often outside major towns, with infrequent, relatively expensive bus services.  Nesta, Nesta (the map)