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Dutch Museums Attracting More Visitors

Dutch museums have been seeing increased attendance for the past few years, but this increase almost exclusively involved the large museums. Museums in the Netherlands received 26.5 million visitors in 2013, over 3.3 million more than in 2011. The large museums attracted an extra 3.2 million visitors. The smaller and medium-sized museums hardly saw an increase in visitor numbers, and some even faced falling numbers, according to the latest figures released by Statistics Netherlands.

Large museums were able to link their growing visitor numbers with positive operating results while the operating results of smaller and medium-sized museums as a group were negative in 2013; worse even than in 2011.

More museums visits to thanks to the large museums
In 2013, visits to all 799 Dutch museums surveyed by Statistics Netherlands increased by 14 percent on 2011, when Statistics Netherlands surveyed 788 museums. Visitor numbers rose faster in these two years than in the entire period of 2003-2013 (6 percent). The increase is mainly generated by the large museums, with annual visitor numbers exceeding 100 thousand, which received far more visitors than in 2011. Thanks to the re-opening of Amsterdam museums the number of visitors increased.

In 2013, 26 percent of all visitors to Dutch museums were foreign, compared to 22 percent two years earlier. Foreign visitors mainly did the large museums. Over 80 percent of the foreign visitors went to one of the 100 thousand plus visitor museums.

Large museums in profit, small museums showing a loss
Large museums with annual visitor numbers exceeding 100 thousand produced far better financial results as a group than the smaller and medium-sized museums. Their operating results reached 13 million euros in 2013. The medium-sized museums with visitor numbers ranging from 10 to 100 thousand visitors performed rather poorly. Together they had a negative balance of 16 million euros in their total income and expenses. In 2011, the group had faced a 5 million euro deficit.

The museums attracting less than 10 thousand visitors looked at a million euro deficit in 2013 compared to 2 million in 2011. The total Dutch museum sector produced a negative result of 4 million euros in 2013. This result was an improvement on 2011 when the balance of the total income and expenses of the Dutch museums came to a 35 million euro deficit.

Most of the 10.7 million visitors paid the full ticket price; slightly fewer than in 2011. The number of visitors with a Museum Card has risen fast. In 2011, there were 4.2 million visits by Museum Card holders, versus 6.1 million in 2013. The number of free visits, such as school trips, rose to 5.2 million during this period.

Subsidies a lesser source of income
The total income earned by museums amounted to 878 million euros in 2013. Government subsidies were their primary source of income, constituting 56 percent. Over the years, the share of government subsidies in total revenues has diminished. In 2003, the grants made up two-thirds of total income. Since then the entrance fees and reimbursements for visits with the Museum Card have gained importance.

Most of the government subsidies go to museums attracting over 100 thousand visitors. In 2013, they received over 340 million euros. Together these major museums attracted 62 percent of the number of visitors. They make up 6 percent of the museum branch in the Netherlands In number. The small and medium-sized museums received the other 147 million euros in subsidies. Those museums that received fewer than 10,000 visitors, which make up nearly two-thirds of all museums in the Netherlands, received 13 million euros.

Dutch museums spent 882 million euros in 2013, mainly personnel costs (41 percent) and other costs such as exhibition costs and purchases for restaurants and shops (28 percent). Over a fifth of the expenditure went to housing.