Museum visits in the Netherlands drops second year in a row

In a report issued by the Dutch Museums Association on 12 September 2022, it is clear that the visitor numbers have dropped further in 2021 compared to 2020. Considering the discouraging development, the Dutch MA calls on governments to adequately support museums to break a downward spiral, to develop offerings for new audiences and to enable them to invest in a sustainable future.

The results from the 471 responses to the survey shows that the number of visitors in 2021 fell from 13.2 million in 2020 to 11.8 million people. Compared to 32.6 million visitors in pre-pandemic 2019, it is a worrying trend.

Drops in visits result in decreased income, which makes it more difficult for museums to organise new exhibitions and events. The forecast for 2022 projects that museums can expect 18.2 million visits as the lowest, and 23.8 million at best. That is more than a third less than in 2019, in the worst-case scenario, almost halved.

The number of temporary exhibitions decreased by 37% compared to 2019, which shows that Dutch museums have had to cut back considerably in their activities and offers for the public. The MA concludes that with fewer offers, visitors are less likely to go to the museum contributing to a downward spiral. If there are more temporary exhibitions, people are more inclined to visit a museum, and the income of museums increases. However, at the moment the costs outweigh the benefits. Especially when considering the current energy crisis with rising costs of both energy and materials for exhibitions, which most no longer museums can no longer afford.