Non-urban museums in Sweden recover faster than city museums

© Skansen, Image: Jonathan Lundkvist Picture of the entrance to an open-air museum. The entrance is yellow and surrounded by green trees.

The open-air museum Skansen (Stockholm, Sweden) was the most visited museum during the summer 2021. © Skansen, Image: Jonathan Lundkvist

On 22 September 2021, the Swedish Museums Association published a report of visits to Swedish museums during the summer (June - August) 2021. 4.3 million museum visits took place in summer 2021, compared to 3 million in 2020 and 7 million in 2019. In summer 2021, museums in the capital Stockholm have experienced the biggest drop in visitor numbers whereas open air museums managed to attract an average of 82% of the 2019 visitor numbers.

Generally, museums in non-urban areas seem to recover better than museums in the biggest cities (Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö). Non-urban museums report 78% of the pre-pandemic 2019 visitor numbers while city museums reported 45%.

170 museums, 80% of the members of the Swedish Museums Association, contributed to the report, which was accepting answers from 17 August – 9 September 2021. Based on the answers, the national average for 2021 was 59% compared to the summer visits in 2019. In summer 2020, the average was 44% of the 2019 visitor numbers.

The report gives account of some financial recovery during the summer, but museums are still concerned about the future. About 60% of the responding museums charge for entry. The Swedish Museums Association estimates that these museums have lost 135 million Swedish krona in income compared to the summer of 2019. The report also states that the government funded museums also are struggling financially. The financial situation has been pressed for years and it is now worsening despite additional corona support.

Most museums in Sweden kept their doors closed to the public in the autumn of 2020 and remained closed until spring 2021. A small number of museums in Sweden never closed due to the pandemic.