Museum visits drop by 1.4 million, many museums in trouble
The number of museum visitors dropped by another 1.4 million last year, from 13.2 million in 2020 to 11.8 million in 2021, the Museum Association reported on Monday. In pre-pandemic 2019, Dutch museums had 32.6 million visitors. A massive 44 percent of museums started 2022 in the red, the association said in its annual figures.
Fewer visitors mean less income, resulting in museums being able to do fewer exhibitions and events, creating a downward spiral, the association said. The number of temporary exhibitions decreased by 37 percent last year compared to 2019. And income from entrance fees was 150 million euros than pre-pandemic.
That, combined with the rising costs for energy and exhibition materials, meant that 43 percent of museums ended 2021 with negative figures. “Smaller museums, municipal museums, and private museums had a particularly hard time,” the Museum Association said. “These categories were also hardest hit in 2020 and have now exhausted all reserves.”
According to the association, museums did receive support from the national government and municipalities, but not nearly enough. In 2020 and 2021, the central government gave municipalities 410 million euros to support the cultural sector. But museums only received 25 million euros of that amount. “Striking because no less than 49 percent of the museums have the municipality as the main financier,” the association said.
According to the association, many museums are at risk of drowning without additional support. The outlook for this year is also bleak. In the best-case scenario, museums will get 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 compared to last year, but still nearly half less than before the pandemic.
The Museum Association, therefore, calls on municipalities to “stand behind their museums and give them the support they need” and on the Cabinet to “use the extra resources for culture from the coalition agreement for a sustainable future for the sector.”