FEATURE ARTICLE 5: MUSEUMS FACT SHEET
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What is a museum?
How many museums are there in Australia?
How many people go to museums?
Are some people more likely to visit museums than others?
How many objects are kept by museums?
How many people work in museums?
How are museums funded?
How can I find a museum?
This articles presents information about museums, including social history museums and historic properties and sites. Art museums are excluded except where data sources do not distinguish between museums and art museums.
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WHAT IS A MUSEUM?
The ABS, in its role as Australia's official statistical agency, produced the Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications, 2008 (cat. no. 4902.0) (ACLC) as part of developing national standards for culture and leisure information. The ACLC define the class Other museums as 'units mainly engaged in the acquisition, collection management, conservation, interpretation, communication and exhibition of heritage objects and artefacts'. This excludes units mainly engaged in: operating public art galleries and art museums; operating herbaria; operating heritage theme parks which do not have either original buildings or a collection of original artefacts; and operating historical societies or National Trust organisations which neither manage museums nor maintain a collection of original artefacts.
Other definitions of museums also exist. According to the International Council of Museums, a museum is 'a non-profit making permanent institution in the service of society and of its development, open to the public, which acquires, conserves, researches, communicates and exhibits, for purposes of study, education and enjoyment, the tangible and intangible evidence of people and their environment'.
The Museums Australia Constitution defines a 'museum' as an institution that '... helps people understand the world by using objects and ideas to interpret the past and present and explore the future. A museum preserves and researches collections, and makes objects and information accessible in actual and virtual environments. Museums are established in the public interest as permanent, not-for-profit organisations that contribute long-term value to communities.'
Data about art museums are excluded from this article except where data sources do not distinguish between museums and art museums. Art museums include national and state/territory art galleries, and other public art galleries, but exclude commercial art galleries which are mainly engaged in retailing art.
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HOW MANY MUSEUMS ARE THERE IN AUSTRALIA?
According to Museums, Australia, 2003-04 (cat. no. 8560.0) there were 1,169 museums locations in Australia at the end of June 2004. This included 673 social history museums, 381 historic properties and sites, and 116 other museums. These numbers exclude art museums.
The 2003-04 ABS Museums survey focused on employing and non-employing businesses and organisations included on the Australian Business Register, and classified as a Museum according to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) (2001). These organisations were mainly engaged in the operation of museums and art museums. These operations included the display, storage and preservation of museum objects and artworks. The scope also included museums registered as having a collection with Australian Museums and Galleries OnLine (AMOL).
Museums held within private organisations (where the museum does not have its own ABN) and not registered with AMOL are not represented by the survey results.
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HOW MANY PEOPLE GO TO MUSEUMS?
As reported in Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, 2005-06 (cat. no. 4114.0), an estimated 3.6 million Australian adults (or 23% of the population aged 15 years and over) visited a museum at least once in the 12 months prior to interview. Half of the people who had visited museums in the past 12 months had gone once, with another quarter of museum visitors having visited twice. The remaining quarter of museum visitors had been to a museum three times or more during the previous 12 months.
According to Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, April 2006 (cat. no. 4901.0), just under 1 million children aged 5-14 years (995,200) had visited a museum or art gallery outside of school hours in the 12 months prior to interview.
The publication Museums, Australia, 2003-04 (cat. no. 8560.0) reported that there were an estimated 19.7 million visits to museums, with 9 million (or 46%) of these being paid admissions.
The Council of Australasia Museum Directors (CAMD) 2005-06 survey found that total attendance's to CAMD's 21 museum sites across Australia and New Zealand numbered 11.8 million. As well as on-site visits to the museum sites, CAMD museum websites recorded 37.8 million user sessions. For the first time, in 2005-06 more than half of CAMD's members attracted more 'virtual' than on-site visitors.
It is important to note the difference between the numbers of visitors as reported by the Attendance survey and the number of visits as reported by the Museums survey and the CAMD survey. The survey of Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events collects data in relation to visitors and not visits. Data are collected about whether each respondent has visited a selected cultural event or venue in the past 12 months and, if so, how frequently they have visited. Regardless of how many times a respondent has visited a selected cultural venue or event in the 12 month reference period, they are counted as one visitor. This differs from the CAMD and Museums collections where a visit can count the same visitor returning numerous times. So, one person visiting museums 10 times in 12 months would be counted as one visitor on the Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events Survey, but as 10 visits on the CAMD and Museums collections.
Half of all international visitors (51%) participated in at least one cultural and heritage activity in 2006 (Tourism Research Australia, 2007). The most popular cultural and heritage tourism activity for international visitors was visiting a historical or heritage building, site or monument (61%), followed by visiting museums or art galleries (56%).
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ARE SOME PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO VISIT MUSEUMS THAN OTHERS?
A study into the characteristics of cultural attendees using 2002 data (Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group, 2006) found that the following characteristics were related to attendance at museums:
- Males ages 35 years or over were more likely to attend museums than males aged 18-24 years.
- People who had never married were more likely to attend than married people.
- Families with dependent children were more likely to attend than families with non-dependent children.
- People living in the ACT, NT, AS and Tasmania were more likely to attend museums than those living in NSW.
- People living in major cities were more likely to attend than people living in both outer regional and remote or very remote areas.
- People who could raise $2,000 in emergency funding within 1 week were more likely to attend museums than those who could not.
- People who did have access to a computer were more likely to attend than those who did not.
- People in the least disadvantaged areas (those in the highest SIENNA quintile) were more likely to attend than people in the lowest 2 SIENNA quintiles.
- People born in an other main English-speaking countries (United Kingdom and Ireland, New Zealand, the United States and South Africa) were more likely to attend than people born in Australia.
- People born in a main English-speaking country were more likely to attend a museum than people born in a non-main English-speaking country.
- Self assessed health status: People feeling in excellent or very good health were more likely to attend museums than people feeling in good or fair health, and they were in turn more likely to attend than people feeling in poor health.
- People with at least weekly contact with family and friends were more likely to attend than people with less frequent contact.
- The more highly educated a person, the more likely they were to attend museums.
- People working between 1 and 34 hours a week were more likely to attend than people working 35 hours or more.
- People who could ask for small favours were more likely to attend than those who could not.
According to Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities, April 2006
(cat. no. 4901.0), there were 995,200 children who visited a museum or art gallery during the 12 month period. The rate of attendance at museums or art galleries was similar for boys and girls (38% and 36% respectively). The attendance rate was the same for 5 to 8 and 9 to 11 year olds (40%) but lower (31%) for those aged 12 to 14 years. Children born overseas in main English-speaking countries were more likely to go to a museum or art gallery (48% attending) compared with those born in Australia (38%) and in non-main English-speaking countries (26%). Attendance at museums and art galleries ranged from 60% for children in the Australian Capital Territory to 32% for those in New South Wales.
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HOW MANY OBJECTS ARE KEPT BY MUSEUMS?
According to Museums, Australia, 2003-04
(cat. no. 8560.0) there were 52 million museum objects at the end of June 2004. Museum objects include historic or ethnographic objects (textiles, ceramics, furniture, transportation vehicles), natural science specimens (zoological specimens, botanical specimens, paleontological specimens) and may also include cultural photographs, films, tape recordings and digital images.
Many museum objects can be viewed online. For example, the Collections Australia Network (CAN) is taking part in the Federated Open Search Project, which aims to enable web users to search the collections of Australian archives, galleries, libraries and museums through a single search. Currently, it is possible to search the online collections of AMOL, the Powerhouse Museum, Picture Australia and Libraries Australia via the CAN website at <www.collectionsaustralia.net
>. The CAN website also enables web users to search the CAN Collections Database (consisting of collection records from over 80 CAN Partners).
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HOW MANY PEOPLE WORK IN MUSEUMS?
The Census of Population and Housing collects data about occupation and industry for the main job for the week prior to Census Night. The 2006 Census found that there were 6,411 people working in the Museum operations industry as their main job. The Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (2008)
(ANZSIC) class Museum operations includes people working for museums and art museums. Of these, 40% were employed in cultural occupations such as gallery or museum guides and curators, arts administrators/managers, and conservators. The 2006 Census identified 2,361 people working as gallery or museum guides, curators and technicians in their main job.
The ABS survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities enumerated in April 2007 provides another perspective on employment in museums. This survey gives a better indication of the total number of people working in museums by providing information on those working in both a paid and unpaid capacity and those who are involved as part of a second job. It also distinguishes between people working in museums and people working in art museums.
The ABS survey of Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities examined work involvement in cultural activities, including museums, over a 12 month period. The longer reference period for this survey makes it more likely to capture those persons working in a cultural occupation on an irregular basis than either the one-week reference period of the Census or the end-of-June snapshot provided by the Museums survey.
As reported in Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, Australia, April 2007
(cat. no. 6281.0) there were around 58,000 people aged 15 years and over with a paid or unpaid work involvement in museums. About 17% of these people received some payment for their involvement. This means that there were approximately 48,000 volunteers.
As reported in Museums, Australia, 2003-04
(cat. no. 8560.0), 5,543 people were employed in museums at the end of June 2004. Labour costs of $221m made up 41% of total museum expenses. As well as those employed in the museums, a further 17,318 people volunteered in museums during the month of June 2004.
Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD) survey 2005-06 highlights
reported that around 4,000 volunteers contributed 433,317 volunteer hours to the 21 CAMD museums.
Each of these data sources indicate that volunteers make up a significant proportion of the museums workforce.
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HOW ARE MUSEUMS FUNDED?
As reported in Cultural Funding by Government, 2005-06
(cat. no. 4183.0), museums received $506.2m in Australian and state and territory government funding in 2005-06, with art museums receiving $268.7m. The majority of the funding came from state and territory governments (61% for museums and 80% for art museums). The total amount of local government funding was $973.2m.
The publication Museums, Australia, 2003-04
(cat. no. 8560.0) reported on sources of income for museums and art museums, including funding by governments. Overall, 72% of museums' income was funding provided by the government ($427.6m). The remainder consisted of income from admissions ($47.1m), fundraising ($27.0m) and other sources of income ($92.8m). Of the $628.0m in government funding for museums and art museums, $47.2m (7.5%) was from local governments.
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HOW CAN I FIND A MUSEUM?
The Collections Australia Network website at <www.collectionsaustralia.net
> allows users to search for cultural heritage institutions, including museums, based on location or sector (archives, botanic, cultural, gallery, heritage, library, museum, professional/service organisation, zoo/aquaria).
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Australian Bureau of Statistics, Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2005-06
, cat. no. 4114.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC), 2006
, cat. no. 1292.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australian Culture and Leisure Classifications, 2001
, cat. no. 4902.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Employment in Culture, Australia, 2006
, cat. no. 6273.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Museums, Australia, 2003-04
, cat. no. 8560.0, ABS, Canberra.
Australian Bureau of Statistics, Work in Selected Culture and Leisure Activities, Australia, Apr 2007
, cat. no. 6281.0, ABS, Canberra.
Council of Australasia Museum Directors, 2007, Council of Australasia Museum Directors (CAMD) survey 2005-06 highlights
, viewed 26 June 2007, <http://www.creative.org.au
Cultural Ministers Council Statistics Working Group, The Social and Demographic Characteristics of Cultural Attendees, October 2006
, prepared for CMCSWG by the NCCRS of the ABS, published by CMCSWG, <http://www.culturaldata.gov.au
International Council of Museums, 2006, ICOM Code of Ethics for Museums, 2006
, viewed 27 June 2007, <http://icom.museum/ethics.html
Museums Australia, 2002, Museums Australia Incorporated Constitution & Rules
, viewed 27 June 2007, <http://www.museumsaustralia.org.au
Tourism Research Australia, 2007, Cultural and Heritage Tourism in Australia 2006 Snapshot
, viewed 20 June 2007, <http://www.tra.australia.com
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This page last updated 18 October 2010