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Museums Survey

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.

2021 Museums Survey

The London report at the foot of this page reveals the far reaching impact that the first year of the pandemic had on museums in the capital. In line with the national report, which shows the greatest impact to be on museums in urban areas, London was particularly severely hit, given its twin reliance on tourism and public transport. London museums’ fall in visitor numbers, at 93%, was among the highest anywhere. With such a drop-off in demand, 45% of museums in London did not re-open at all during 2020-21, and opening hours overall were less than any other region. Even where London museums did re-open, 91% reported occupancy to be below 40%, compared to 57% nationally.

The effect on museum finances was severe. Because of higher rateable values in the capital, fewer London museums met the eligibility conditions applying at that time to the local authority Covid grants, and only 37% of museums secured these grants compared to 61% nationally. Despite other government financial support schemes, overall 78% of London museums reported a fall in income. Little surprise then that 34% of London museums were forced to make redundancies, compared to 22% nationally. Neither was the London museum sector in a position to mitigate this loss of capacity through volunteering. As in all regions volunteers left, but the decline in new volunteer recruitment to replace them was greater in London than anywhere else.

Museum Development London will be carefully considering these findings as it plans its support programme for 2022-23.The full London report below contains a great amount of further detailed analysis broken down by size, type of museum etc, and as such provides a very useful tool which museums can use themselves for benchmarking and comparison.