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January 12, 2015

Survey of Art Museums Finds Little Spending by Visitors

A new report by the Association of Art Museum Directors finds that member institutions spend far more per guest than they receive back in admission and purchases of food and merchandise, writes The New York Times. Visitor revenue covered only about 15 percent of museums' total expenses, with institutions investing about $53 per attendee while the average guest spent less than $8 in the last fiscal year, according to the survey of 236 museums.

Private philanthropy, primarily from individual donors, sustains art museums, which put more than two-thirds of their annual spending into collections, exhibitions, education, and infrastructure, the report found. Corporate giving "isn't as strong as it used to be. That's coming through loud and clear in this report," said Christine Anagnos, the association's executive director.