A snapshot of fluctuating visitor figures in the UK and globally 3 Dec 2021

A batch of newly published visitor statistics, both recent and looking back to the beginning of the pandemic, show that although museums are not facing the dire levels of footfall of 2020, recovery will in general be slow.

  • In her opening speech at the MA conference, Director Sharon Heal said that visitors have come back, but not in the same numbers as before. Manchester Art Gallery announced in November that it had exceeded its pre-pandemic visitor figures, but this is the exception rather than the rule – typically, museums are seeing 40-50% of previous visitors. MA (paywall)
  • Figures for DCMS-sponsored museums for the period July-September 2021 show 5.1m visitors – more than triple the 1.4m for the same period in 2020, but down 64% compared to 2019. Gov.uk
  • The World Economic Forum reports that the 20 most visited museums in the world saw attendance drop by around 78% in 2020. The three most visited were The Louvre (2.7m), National Museum of China (1.7m) and Tate Modern (1.43m). World Economic Forum
  • In 2020-21 Tate Modern’s visitor figures fell from 5.7m to 361,000 – 7% of normal figures, while the National Gallery had 4% and British Museum and V&A had 3%. Art Newspaper