Survey shows strong public support for UK museums

© MIKEL BILBAO GOROSTIAGA- TRAVELS / Alamy Stock Foto Numerous people walk past museum displays consisting of ancient fossils.


A recent survey by Art Fund and the National Museum Directors' Council (NMDC) demonstrates strong public support for public funding for museums in the United Kingdom, with nearly three quarters of UK adults believing that councils should fund local museums.

89% of UK adults think museums are important to UK culture, with nearly half (47%) saying they are very important. Three quarters (76%) of UK adults think having a local museum add value to their area, and the same percentage think museums should receive at least half of their funding from government.

Nearly half of those surveyed (47%) said that museums in the UK should be mostly or entirely funded by government. Only 3% said museums should be entirely funded by private investment or income generation.

The survey also found that:

  • 48% of UK adults visit museums at least once a year, with 35% of adults visiting twice or more. 51% of those with children said that their children visit museums at least once a year.
  • 89% of UK adults think museums are important to UK culture, 47% think they are very important and only 7% think they are not important.
  • According to the UK public, the most important functions of a local museum are for education purposes, to preserve the past, and to connect with local history (62%, 59% and 56% respectively).
  • 54% of UK adults would feel disappointed and 41% would feel sad if their local museum were to close. 19% would be angry and 16% frustrated.
  • When asked specifically about funding of local museums, 74% said local government should provide at least half of their funding, with 45% saying that local government should provide most or all of their funding.
  • When asked if they think public funding for local museums has gone up or down since 2022, 44% of people correctly identified that it has gone down, with only 9% thinking it has stayed the same and 4% thinking it has gone up. In real terms, net current expenditure on museums and galleries by local authorities decreased by 11% – from £206.27m in 2021/22 to £183.05m in 2022/23 – according to a report published by Arts Council England in January.