Dutch museums are more popular than ever

© Zeeuws Museum, Image: Anda van Riet Two men stand next to each other in front of a glass monter displaying old fashioned clothes. One of the men is carrying a baby in a harness on his belly.

© Zeeuws Museum, Image: Anda van Riet

With 9.5 million visits with the Museum Card in 2023, the Dutch Museums Association reports that museums are more popular than ever among Dutch audiences. However, despite the increase museums still struggle financially and continued governmental support is needed.

The 2023 number of visits to the 472 affiliated Dutch museums marks a new record and shows that visits with a Museum Card are above the pre-corona level. Additionally, the Dutch Museums Association expects that a new record will be set in 2023 for all museum visits (with and without a Museum Card). Total visits, including international visitors, are likely to be between 29-32 million, close to 2019 levels. The final visitor numbers for 2023 will be presented in a publication in October 2024.

Vera Carasso, Director of the Dutch Museums Association and the Museum Card Foundation, as well as a NEMO Board member, said: “There are currently more than 1.5 million Museum Card holders, a record number. The increasing number of card holders and museum visits shows that there is great interest and support for museums in our country. At the same time, we see that some museums are really having a hard time. It is very important that museums remain financially healthy in the future and are accessible to a wide audience. The government must therefore continue to invest in our shared heritage.”

Many museums struggle financially and cannot cover rising costs with own income, despite high visitor numbers. Several Dutch museums had to rely on savings during the Covid-19 pandemic and are still largely dependent on government investment.

The Dutch Museums Association also points to the parallels between high visitor numbers having a positive effect on the local economy. Restaurants, shops and hotels in the area, among others, benefit from the visitors.