DCMS report shows sharp decline in visits to museums and galleries

A new Department for Culture, Media and Sport report shows that visitor numbers to UK museums and galleries are down by millions. The report studied 15 museums that provide free entry to their permanent collections, including the British Museum, National Gallery, National Museums Liverpool, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Tate Gallery Group.

One of the most significant declines was in the number of young people visiting museums for educational purposes - a drop of over 6% from the previous year. This fall, sadly corresponds with a decrease in GSCE and GCE Art and Design student numbers and a decline in art teachers and teaching hours as reported by the Cultural Learning Alliance in October 2016.

The DCMS state: 'In 2015/16, across all sponsored museums, there was an estimated 2.5 million instances where visitors under the age of 18 participated in on-site events, and 11.5 per cent decrease on 2014/15. When excluding Tyne and Wear museum from 2014/15, there was a 6.9 per cent decline.'

The DCMS report comes after the Cultural Learning Alliance recent Imagine Nation report which clearly demonstrates the value of cultural learning:

  • ‘Children who take part in arts activities in the home during their early years are ahead in reading and Maths at age nine.’
  • ‘Learning through arts and culture can improve attainment in Maths and English.’
  • ‘Young offenders who take part in arts activities are 18% less likely to re-offend.’
  • ‘Students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are 20% more likely to vote as young adults.’
  • ‘Students from low-income families who engage in the arts at school are twice as likely to volunteer.’

Other reasons for a decline in visits include fear of terrorism, and in the National Gallery's case, strike action during 2015.

The full DCMS report can be read here.