Mapping Museums 1960–2020: A report on the data

Despite the Covid crisis, which is having a huge impact on the museum sector too, academic life somehow goes on. I’m pleased to share this new report [pdf] about the findings of the Mapping Museums project. This report is the result of a lot of hard work to tease out key trends from data about more than 4,000 museums in the UK, including temporal and regional analyses. In the spirit of open science, the data used to generate the report [zip] is available too.

The whole UK museums knowledge base is now online and keen to be explored.

Fiona Candlin, Jamie Larkin, Andrea Ballatore, Alexandra Poulovassilis (2020) Mapping Museums 1960–2020: A report on the data. London: Birkbeck, University of London.

A little taster of the report key findings:

Between 1960 and 2017

  • There has been a massive boom in the number of museums in the UK. The sector has more than tripled, increasing from 1,043 to 3,289 museums.
  • The total number of museums in the UK increased each year from 1960 until 2015. There were 55 years of growth in the museum sector.
  • In 2016 the number of museums in the UK contracted for the first time since 1960.
  • The most rapid period of museum growth was during the 1970s. The least growth has been seen during the 2010s.
  • There is significant variation in growth and closure depending on location and on governance. The different nations and the English regions have different degrees and timescales of growth, as do independent versus local authority museums.

Read the full report in PDF.