Museum Facts

We’ve compiled statistics below demonstrating how museums are educational, trusted, beloved and economic assets to communities everywhere. Also check out our infographic and share it widely! 

Want more data about the economic impact and public support for museums? Download your free copies of our new reports, Museums as Economic Engines and Museums & Public Opinion, today.

Museums Are Economic Engines

  • Museums support more than 726,000 American jobs.[1]

  • Museums contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy each year.[2]

  • Seventy-six percent of all U.S. leisure travelers participate in cultural or heritage activities such as visiting museums. These travelers spend 60 percent more on average than other leisure travelers. [3]

  • The economic activity of museums generates more than $12 billion in tax revenue, one-third of it going to state and local governments. Each job created by the museum sector results in $16,495 in additional tax revenue.[4]

  • For every direct job at a museum, an additional job is supported elsewhere in the economy. This is higher than many other industries.[5]

  • Museums and other nonprofit cultural organizations return more than $5 in tax revenues for every $1 they receive in funding from all levels of government.[6]

Museums Are Community Anchors

  • In determining America’s Best Cities, Bloomberg Business Week placed the greatest weight on “leisure amenities [including density of museums], followed by educational metrics and economic metrics…then crime and air quality.”[7]

  • Money Magazine’s annual ‘Best Places to Live’ survey incorporates the concentration of accredited museums.[8]

People Love Museums

  • There are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums, more than the attendance for all major league sporting events and theme parks combined (483 million in 2011). Museums also receive millions of online visits each year.[9]
  • Museum websites serve a diverse online community, including teachers, parents, and students (including those who are home-schooled).
  • Museum volunteers contribute a million hours of service every week.[10]
  • Ninety-six percent of Americans believe that the largest source of federal grant funding for museums should increase (58%) or stay the same (37%).[11]
  • Support for museums is robust regardless of political persuasion. Ninety-six percent of Americans would approve of lawmakers who acted to support museums. The number is consistently high for respondents who consider themselves politically liberal (97%), moderate (95%), or conservative (93%).[12]

Museums Serve the Public

  • Many museums offer programs tailored to veterans and military families. In 2017, more than 2,100 museums participated in the Blue Star Museums initiative, offering free summer admission to all active-duty and reserve personnel and their families.[13] This effort reached more than 900,000 people, while many other museums offer military discounts or free admission throughout the year.
  • Museums also provide many social services, including programs for children on the autism spectrum, English as a Second Language classes, and programs for adults with Alzheimer’s or other cognitive impairments.[14]

Museums Partner with Schools

  • Museums spend more than $2 billion each year on education activities; the typical museum devotes three-quarters of its education budget to K-12 students.[15]
  • Museums receive approximately 55 million visits each year from students in school groups.[16]
  • Museums help teach the state and local curriculum, tailoring their programs in math, science, art, literacy, language arts, history, civics and government, economics and financial literacy, geography, and social studies.[17]
  • Students who attend a field trip to an art museum experience an increase in critical thinking skills, historical empathy and tolerance. For students from rural or high-poverty regions, the increase was even more significant.[18]
  • Children who visited a museum during kindergarten had higher achievement scores in reading, mathematics and science in third grade than children who did not. This benefit is also seen in the subgroup of children who are most at risk for deficits and delays in achievement. [19]

Museums Are for Everyone

  • Museums are committed to ensuring that Americans of all backgrounds have access to high-quality museum experiences. In 2012, 37% of museums were free at all times or had suggested admission fees only; nearly all the rest offered discounts or free admission days.[20]

  • Since 2014, hundreds of museums have facilitated more than 750,000 museum visits for low-income Americans through the Museums for All program.
  • About 26% of museums are located in rural areas[21]; other museums reach these communities with traveling vans, portable exhibits and robust online resources.

Museums Are Trusted

  • Museums are considered educational by 97% of Americans, across all ages, races, and geographical locations.[22]
  • Museums are considered the most trustworthy source of information in America, rated higher than local papers, nonprofits researchers, the U.S. government, and academic researchers.[23]
  • Museums preserve and protect more than a billion objects.[24]
  • Museums are considered a more reliable source of historical information than books, teachers, or even personal accounts by relatives.[25]

Museums Save Species

  • In 2016 accredited museums spent $216 million on field conservation projects in 127 countries.[26]
  • Museums are involved with conservation breeding, habitat preservation, public education, field conservation, and supportive research to ensure survival for many of the planet's threatened or endangered species. Museums also conduct or facilitate research to advance the scientific knowledge of the animals in human care and to enhance the conservation of wild populations.

[1] Museums as Economic Engines, AAM and Oxford Economics, 2017

Cultural and Heritage Traveler Report, Mandala Research, 2013.
Museums as Economic Engines, AAM and Oxford Economics, 2017
Arts and Economic Prosperity V, 2017, Americans for the Arts.
AAM estimate based on National Study on the Use of Libraries, Museums, and the Internet, IMLS, 2008
Museum Financial Information Survey, AAM, 2009
Museums and Public Opinion 2017, AAM and Wilkening Consulting
National Endowment for the Arts
Museums on Call, AAM, 2013
Museum Financial Information Survey, AAM, 2009
Building the Future of Education: Museums and the Learning Ecosystem, Center for the Future of Museums, 2013
The Educational Value of Field Trips, Education Next, 2014
The Effect of Informal Learning Environments on Academic Achievement during Elementary School, presented to the American Educational Research Association, Swan, 2014
Annual Condition of Museums and the Economy, AAM, 2013
Museum Universe Data File, IMLS, 2014
Museums and Public Opinion 2017, AAM and Wilkening Consulting
Museums R+D, Reach Advisors
Heritage Health Index, 2004
The Presence of the Past, Rosenzweig and Thelen
Association of Zoos and Aquariums