WASHINGTON, D.C. USA—In the fourth year of the Great Recession, Americans continued to turn to the nation’s museums for affordable enrichment, enlightenment and entertainment. The Annual Condition of Museums and the Economy (ACME) survey conducted by the American Alliance of Museums found that a majority of museums served an increased number of visitors in 2012 – continuing a trend since 2009 – even while fully two-thirds of respondents reported some degree of financial stress at their institution. The good news: this is the lowest level of reported financial stress in four years, evidence that museums are part of the slow but steady rebound of the economy as a whole.
As the largest service and advocacy organization for the museum field – serving art museums to zoos and all types of museums in between – the Alliance initiated the ACME survey in January 2010, in the wake of economic downturn. Download the full 2013 report (an accessible 11 pages, complete with a four-year trend analysis) from the Alliance website.
Other key findings of ACME 2013 include:
“Four years have taken their toll on museums,” says Philip M. Katz, the Alliance’s assistant director for research and author of the ACME report. “Museums have relied on budget-saving measures – including staff freezes and deferred maintenance – but also creativity and a strong sense of mission to keep serving their communities. But the dark economic clouds really are starting to part.”
The real but modest gains in 2012 have not replaced the significant losses of 2009-2011, as America’s museums continue to serve more people with fewer resources, including filling gaps in the social safety net.
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