Visits to national museums and galleries are yet to bounce back from the pandemic, even after a year without restrictions, according a new government report.

Annual visits to the 15 DCMS sponsored museums and galleries in 2022/2023 are more than a quarter lower than before any restrictions were imposed. This is despite the latest figures representing the first year without any pandemic restrictions.

DCMS said its calculations amount to a 27.4% decrease in visitors compared to 2018/19, the last year before the pandemic without lockdown restrictions.

The report says in 2022/23 there were 35.1 million visits to DCMS sponsored museums and galleries, 14 million fewer than in 2018/19.

The 15 DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries

British Museum
Museum of the Home
Horniman Museum
Imperial War Museums
National Gallery
National Museums Liverpool
National Portrait Gallery
Natural History Museum
Royal Armouries
Royal Museums Greenwich
Science Museum Group
Sir John Soane’s Museum
Tate Gallery Group
Victoria and Albert Museum
The Wallace Collection

Museums outside of London have recovered at a slower rate than those within the capital after the pandemic began, it said.

Visits to DCMS sponsored museums and galleries outside of London are collectively 51.8% lower than its 2018/19 figures.

But London’s national museum and galleries have not bounced back either. The capital has seen a comparative collective decrease in annual visitors of 20.1% on 2018/19.

The DCMS report says it has accounted for the closure of museums and galleries across the five year period when calculating its percentage figures.

For instance, the National Portrait Gallery in 2020 closed to begin its refurbishment project. Its closure represents a loss of approximately 1.5 – 2 million annual visitors, some of the total 14 million fewer visits.

However, all remaining DCMS sponsored museums and galleries report fewer visitors than in the last year before the pandemic, excluding Sir John Soane’s Museum, which saw a 0.9% increase on 2018/19.

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