Museum visits fall by 1.4 million, many museums in trouble

The number of museum visitors fell by another 1.4 million last year, from 13.2 million in 2020 to 11.8 million in 2021, the Museums Association reported on Monday. In 2019, before the pandemic, Dutch museums had 32.6 million visitors. A whopping 44% of museums started 2022 in the red, the association said in its annual figures.

Fewer visitors mean less revenue, allowing museums to do fewer exhibits and events, creating a downward spiral, the association said. The number of temporary exhibitions fell by 37% last year compared to 2019. And revenue from entrance fees was 150 million euros compared to the pre-pandemic period.

That, combined with rising costs for energy and exhibit materials, means 43% of museums ended 2021 with negative numbers. “Small museums, municipal museums and private museums have had a particularly difficult time,” the Museum Association said. “These categories were also the hardest hit in 2020 and have now exhausted all reserves.”

According to the association, museums have received support from the national government and municipalities, but not enough. In 2020 and 2021, the central government gave municipalities 410 million euros to support the cultural sector. But the museums only received 25 million euros of this amount. “Striking because no less than 49% of museums have the municipality as their main funder,” the association said.

According to the association, many museums risk drowning without additional support. The outlook for this year is also bleak. In the best case, museums will receive 23.8 million visitors throughout 2022, still a third less than in 2019. In the worst case, there will be only 18.2 million visitors – a significant improvement over last year, but still nearly half less. than before the pandemic.

The Museums Association therefore calls on municipalities to “stand behind their museums and give them the support they need” and the Cabinet to “use the additional resources for culture from the coalition agreement for a sustainable future to the area”.

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