Even bears like museums! A black bear checks visiting hours at the Ohio History Center.
That seems like a silly question doesn’t it!? In the aftermath of the Super Bowl which was watched by 114.4 million people in the United States and the overall of popularity of sports in America, it’s pretty obvious that sports are way more popular than museums. But not so fast, let’s look at the statistics! If we count the attendance for ALL major league sporting events AND throw in attendance at theme parks for one year we get a figure of 483 million (in 2011). In comparison, there are about 850 million visits each year to American museums! This is almost twice as many visits to museums as to sporting events, and is more than 2.5 visits to museums by every single person in the United States! This shows the enormous popularity of museums to the American public.
Here’s a few other interesting stats regarding the impact of museums, from the American Alliance of Museums:
- Museums employ more than 400,000 Americans.
- Museums directly contribute $21 billion to the U.S. economy each year. They generate billions more through indirect spending by their visitors.
- 78% of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities. These travelers—including visitors to museums—spend 63% more on average than other leisure travelers.
- Museums serve every community; about 17% of museums are located in rural areas with fewer than 20,000 residents. Other museums reach these communities with traveling vans, portable exhibits and robust online resources.
- Only a small (and shrinking) percentage of America’s museums receive federal funding of any kind.
So continue to enjoy, learn from, and support our museums!