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Our Annual Museum Survey

Each year we launch a survey in the South West asking museums, within the Accreditation scheme, to provide core data on:

  • Workforce
  • Financial operations 
  • Audiences
  • Insights related to the size of museum  

This data helps to demonstrate the social and economic value of museums across the South West both locally and regionally. It also provides a mechanism for museums to benchmark their work.

Read more about our current survey – Annual Museum Survey 2020 

Annual Museum Survey 2018-19

The below data is from our 2018 – 2019 survey and each section is a pdf available for download. 

Cornwall and Isle of Scilly

There were over 1.35 million visit to museums in Cornwall, equating to £21 million gross visitor impact. There were 1,425 events and activities engaging a reported 35,570 participants.

Download the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly PDF to view more information about Cornwall and Isle of Scilly museums.

Screenshot of Cornwall annual data results

Devon, Plymouth and Torbay

There was a reported 4,458 active volunteers in museums in Devon, Plymouth and Torbay, with a total 433,000 volunteer hours. Visitors brought in a reported £43 million in gross visitor impact. 

Download the Devon, Plymouth and Torbay PDF to see more information about Devon, Plymouth and Torbay museums.

Screenshot of Devon, Plymouth and Torbay annual survey data

Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole

19 museums in Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole reported they were independent, reporting over £22 million gross visitor impact from 1.08 million visitors. Learning and outreach activities in the region engaged 21,460 participants.

Download the Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole PDF to uncover more about Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole museums.

Screenshot of Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole sector research data


There were a reported 1200 active volunteers in Gloucestershire museums, reporting 116,760 volunteer hours, equating to an economic value of £778,390. There were also 633,520 total visits to museums. 

Download the Gloucestershire PDF to view more about Gloucestershire museums.

Screenshot of Gloucestershire sector research data

Somerset and North Somerset

In Somerset and North Somerset, museums reported a gross visitor impact of over £14 million. They reported 629 events and activities, engaging 20,690 participants. Volunteers in the region had an economic impact of £1,084,150.

Download the Somerset and North Somerset PDF to see more about Somerset and North Somerset museums.

Screenshot of Somerset and N Somerset sector research data

West of England (Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, Swindon and South Gloucestershire)

There were 3.87 million visits to 37 participating museums in the West of England, creating a £96 million gross visitor impact. A reported 87% of visits were in the the ‘largest’ museums. Museums reported a total of 400,670 participants engaging in 2,150 events and activities.

Download the West of England PDF to view more information about West of England museums.

Screenshot of West of England sector research data


There were a reported 776,870 visits to museums in Wiltshire. A total of 6 museums in Wiltshire reported to be entirely volunteer led, with the region reporting 2,367 active volunteers, with an economic impact of £1,497,020.

Download the Wiltshire PDF to see more information about Wiltshire museums.

Screenshot of Wiltshire sector research data

South west museum sector summaries


There are 17,993 active volunteers in museums in the South West (*reported by 195 organisations), with 35.5% of our museums being entirely volunteer led 

Download the Workforce PDF to uncover more information about the museum workforce in the South West.

infographic of the workforce data

Financial Operations

Museums across the South West reported a total income of £74,649,400 in 2018/19, of which £28,481,400 was taken through ticket sales

Download the Financial Operations PDF to view more 2018 – 2019 date related to the financial operations of museums in the South West.

Financial operations infographic data


There were over 10.7 million visits to museums in the South West in 2018/19, with total visits worth over £225,000,000

Download the Audiences PDF to find out more about museum audiences in the South West related to museum size and

Screenshot of Audiences infographic

The below data is related to museums size categories based on annual visitor numbers

Micro – fewer than 10,000 visitors
Small – 10,000 to 20,000 visitors
Medium – 20,000 to 50,000 visitors
Large / largest – greater than 50,000 visitors


Infographic - fewer than 10,000 visitorsMicro museums overview – audiences of fewer than 10,000 annual visitors

83% of micro museums are independently run. Micro museums engaged over 95,000 participants in learning and outreach activities and held 17,400 events and activities.

infographic 10-20k

Small museums overview – audiences between 10,000 and 20,000 annual visitors

Volunteers in small museums reported 191,852 hours, which has an economic value of £1.3 million.



infographic showing data on 20-50k visitors

Medium museums overview – audiences between 20,000 and 50,000 annual visitors

Medium museums had 1,088,000 visits in 2018/19, equating to £21.2 million in gross visitor impact.



infographic on museums with over 50k visitors

Large / largest museums overview – audiences of over 50,000 annual visitors

Large museums engaged 415,000 participants through 2,300 events and activities, and reported £188 million gross visitor impact with a total 8,858,700 visits


Previous years:

By encouraging museums and heritage organisations to adopt a simple and uniform way of reporting their headline operational data, we have collated a body of data that will enable museums to compare and benchmark themselves anonymously and confidentially to others in the museum sector.

This data enables us to monitor the impact of Arts Council England investment in the museum and heritage sector in the South West and to advocate to funding bodies and government to sustain investment in the sector.

Annual Museum Survey Highlights 2017-18 image of volunteer pointing to an engine with two men looking

Annual Survey of Museums Highlights 2017-2018








Screenshot of Audiences data summary

an infographic showing the workforce data for the south west 2017-2018









Download the Annual Survey of Museums 2016-2017