Study Demonstrates Importance of Museums to Maine's Economy

Maine Museums, An Economic Impact Study was commissioned by the Maine Arts Commission and authored by Chuck Lawton of Planning Decisions Inc and Lindsay Rowe of the Maine Arts Commission.

The report shows the Maine State Museum with a 2009 total of 54,500 visitors, of whom 44% were Maine residents, 13% seasonal residents, 40% tourists from other states and 2% international travelers. Visiting the Maine State Museum was the primary reason 33% of those people left home while 36% were traveling on vacation and another 20% were in the area to see friends or family.

From the report's Executive Summary:

The purpose of this survey was to investigate the economic impact of Maine's museums. A visitor survey was conducted during the summer of 2009 at 14 museums. The sites were selected based on their diversity in terms of size, subject matter of exhibitions and collections, and location.

Results from the survey show that, in 2009, approximately 442,000 visitors to the 14 participating museums spent nearly $71 million. Using current multiplier modeling programs, it is estimated that the direct spending of these museum visitors creates a sales impact totaling nearly $148 million. This spending generates tax revenues for state and local government of more than $7.5 million.

The survey results identify characteristics of museum visitors including place of residence, primary reason for their trip, mode of transportation and how much money they spent during their trip in terms of lodging, food, transportation, shopping and recreation.

According to the survey results, visitors are most likely to:

  • reside in a state other than Maine
  • identify the primary purpose of their trip as vacation
  • use their own car to arrive in the area
  • stay overnight at a hotel or bed & breakfast

Maine museums are also significant tourism drivers. According to the survey, one in five visitors identified the museum visit as the primary reason for their trip and the spending associated with their trip.

Although the general spending patterns vary by museum, the results show that the average:

  • overnight museum visitor spends $243 per day, which is double that of overnight visitors who came to Maine for "leisure" purposes ($104 per day)
  • overnight museum visitors spends nearly three times that of overnight visitors who came to Maine to visit friends and family ($89 per day)
  • day trip museum visitor spends $92 per day

It is important to keep in mind that these results reflect only the 14 museums participating in the study and do not account for the hundreds of millions of additional dollars resulting from the direct and indirect impact of visitor spending generated by the hundreds of other museums in the state.

Maine's museums are substantial economic enterprises and drivers. They employ hundreds of people; maintain millions of dollars of buildings and equipment; and collect, preserve, protect, and display a priceless and ever-changing stock of cultural artifacts. The provide millions of dollars of sales to the Maine businesses that clean their spaces, plow their parking lots, maintain and repair their equipment, advertise their exhibits and show, handle their banking and provide the hundreds of other services museums require to run their operations. Finally, and most importantly, each year they attract hundreds of thousands of visitors, who stay in local hotels, motels and bed & breakfasts, and spend money in local stores and restaurants. These visitors have a substantial economic impact throughout the state.

Click here to view the entire report Maine Museums, An Economic Impact Study