Museum attendance surged in 2009

What did you do instead of travel last year? Well, according to the American Association of Museums, you probably caught an art, science or historical exhibit. Museum attendance shot up last year, according to a survey of 481 of them, with more than 57 percent of them reporting gains in attendance. More than 40 percent sustained “significant increases” of 5 percent to more than 20 percent year-over-year. Science and technology museums were most likely to see the upside.

The reason cited for the change in visitorship shouldn’t surprise you: the recession. With wallets being squeezed mercilessly by the economic climate we’ve endured since the September 2008 financial crisis, fewer people have been going out on the road, even despite the deep discounts being offered by airlines and hotels. More people are staying home – and visiting museums. This is consistent with past recessions, when museum attendance grew.

Yet, not all museums benefitted: 23 were forced to close their doors.