This last Sunday, I added up the attendance at the Museum of the History of Science, Oxford and noticed that we had experienced a large increase in attendance, as compared to last January. So, can it be because of the failing economy that we are having more people come through the door? Well, according to statistics from the US, it seems that the economy is helping to boost people’s use of museums and libraries.
In Virginia, libraries are experiencing record use. In Chicago, museum attendance gains ranged from 1 percent at the Art Institute of Chicago (which has admission of $12, but a free day each week and all of February free) to 150 percent at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Evanston (free admission) showed an astonishing gain in the first three weeks of January. In Denver, the Botanical Gardens is able to make investments because of their record-breaking attendance and memberships from 2008.
And, more than anything else, this quote from the Denver article, sums the reasons for the increase in attendance …
“People still want to be entertained,” she added. “Probably more than ever.”
As long as funding organizations (local government, national government, and charities), realize the importance and significance of these cultural institutions, the increased attendance can only help them in the long run. Once people realize that they can use the local library because it is cheaper than renting movies from Blockbusters or that going to a museum for a children’s activity is cheaper (and more educational) than going to the movies, they will keep returning after the economy picks up … and, hopefully, then provide more support for those institutions once they are in a better financial situation.