Great Recession’s Lost Souls Wander Museums

People without jobs tend to have time on their hands. Possibly as a result, museum attendance was up last year! Reports The Wall Street Journal:

[The American Association of Museums] estimates that 57% of museums saw a jump in attendance in 2009, compared with recent years. Science and technology museums saw the broadest gains, with 81% reporting an increase, while half of art museums said they saw visitor growth. More than a quarter of the museums that responded to the survey reported “significant” increases in attendance, between 5-20%.

Predictably, however, people without jobs tend not to be great givers of money. (“Suggested Donation”—the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s siren song!) Museums are not necessarily raking in the dollars as a result of their traffic:

About half reported a decline in total revenue in 2009, according to the survey. And 18% of museums described their financial condition as “very severe.”

The WSJ notes that the AAM’s survey encompassed “art museums, children’s museums, history sites, zoos and aquariums.” So we’re not just talking about ghostly figures wandering the Met here. They are also wandering our zoos and aquariums.

Great Recession’s Lost Souls Wander Museums