The Annual Museums Survey carried out by Museum Development England provides a comprehensive understanding at both regional and national level of the museum sector, to highlight trends and support benchmarking and advocacy.
Annual Survey 2023
The latest annual survey results at the foot of this page show that the post-covid recovery continues in London, with visitor numbers 87% up during 2022-23 compared to 52% nationally. This means that visitor numbers are now just 11% short of pre-covid levels, compared to 18% nationally. The stronger figures for London are probably driven by the return of international visitors and broadly mirror the results of other surveys. However rising energy, materials and staff costs means the financial recovery remains slow both in London and the rest of the country. Whilst 54% of London’s museums reported an increase in income on last year, 64% also reported an increase in expenditure.
The slow recovery in volunteer numbers is another cause for concern. Volunteer numbers are still 10% down on pre-covid levels compared to 5% nationally. There are now only 2 volunteers for every paid member of staff in London, compared to a ratio of 3:1 last year and a national ratio of 4:1 across both years.
There are one or two spots of brighter news however. The digital momentum brought about by lockdown, noticeable everywhere, is still particularly strong in London. Digital audience engagement and e-commerce indicators were once again higher across the board in London than any other region. There may be a number of factors at play here, such as internet connectivity and speeds being better in the capital than most other regions, the slightly higher proportion of large museums in London, and possibly also the continued dividends of Museum Development London’s intensive digital skills programme run between 2015 and 2021.
We will be carefully considering all the findings as we plan our new support programme for 2024-26. The full London report below contains a great amount of further detailed analysis broken down by size and type of museum, and as such provides a very useful tool which museums can use themselves for benchmarking and comparison.
The full context of the national report for 2022-23 is available on this link to SW Museums website.
Sub-regional reports for Outer and Central London
For 2023 there are additional reports available which pull out the key data for the central London area and Outer London boroughs. This is thanks to the richer level of data available from those who managed to complete their surveys for several years running and in depth.
Central London sub-regional report here (downloads as pdf, 850 Kb)
Outer London boroughs sub-regional report here (downloads as pdf, 845 Kb)
This is a very useful tool to compare museums and understand further context. The statistics from the main reports are categorised by museum visitor size bands, governance type and the like.
Click on this link on MD South West region's website to access the tool (Downloads as a pdf, 769Kb)