German museums report 2.5 million drop in visitor numbers in 2016

Number of people visiting art museums in the country has dropped by 7.4 per cent

The Pergamon Museum in Berlin Allie Caulfield via Flickr

The number of visits to German museums fell by 2.2% in 2016 from the previous year, with museums focussed on art and cultural history bearing the brunt of the decline, according to the German Museums Association.

The association said in a statement that the most-cited reasons for the decline were that museums had been unable to repeat particularly successful exhibition programmes in 2015, had hosted fewer visitor groups, or that their region had experienced a decline in tourism.

The decline in visitors and the decrease in the number of exhibitions are a “warning signal”, especially in times of economic growth, said Eckart Köhne, the president of the German Museums Association.

“Museums are competing for visitors with many other leisure options,” said Hermann Parzinger, the president of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation. “That makes it all the more important to have an attractive programme that keeps pace with the times.”

The total number of visits to museums and exhibition halls was 112 million, about 2.5 million fewer than in 2015. The number of visits to art museums declined by 7.4%, while natural science museums reported an increase of 4.1%.

One in ten of the museums surveyed said they conducted provenance research in 2016. Four in 10 responders said they are producing or have produced digital inventories of their collections.