In 2021, museums barely recovered a third of the visits lost in 2020

The recovery of visitors has been much slower than the battered post-pandemic accounts of the museums needed to get out of the alarm zone. The visits keep the income box of the public institutions healthy and if these are scarce, the numbers on which they depend question the viability of the centers. The box office is the lung that makes the museum breathe and in the year that we have just left, the limited capacity has conditioned the return to normality. The data shows that they have generally fallen to a third of their activity before COVID-19 and have barely grown from the year of lockdown.

The Reina Sofía rearranges its collection to better explain what has happened to us

The Reina Sofía rearranges its collection to better explain what has happened to us

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The main cultural institution of the country, the Prado Museum, has closed 2021 with 1,093,491 visits. This data represents a growth of 28.3% compared to the year of confinement, when they totaled 852,161. But the figure is far from the 3,203,417 visits in 2019, when the museum scored the best box office since it has been registered. That is, in 2021 the Prado could barely add a third of what it added in 2019 in the entries, and the fall is 65.8%. For everything it has not been the year of the "reunion", despite the efforts. The meadow stopped earning 25.2 million euros in 2020 And everything indicates that the figures for 2021 will be similar when they are made public. In the General State Budgets approved for 2022, the Prado will have an additional seven million euros.

In addition, 53% of the people who accessed the museum during this year did not pay, thanks to the free schedule and the two days of reunion that the museum reserved (June 6 and 7). It is a great data for the accessibility of the citizenship and very bad for the sustainability of the museum. Such a high percentage has never been reached. The people who paid the full ticket of 15 euros were 36.8%. October was the best month of all but in November and December the flow decreased again, interrupting growth.

The data confirm the seriousness of the situation of cultural institutions, the consequences of which had not been seen since the end of the Second World War, as pointed out by a survey by the International Council of Museums (ICOMOS). According to the data produced by this, 6% of the institutions that closed in a pandemic will not reopen and 16.2% of the participants declared that at least a quarter of the staff was fired or dismissed. The confinement, the prohibition of international mobility of people, the restrictions on the assembly of public spaces during 2020 seriously hit museums, which were far from recovering normality in 2021. The economic limitations of the centers have also prevented mount temporary exhibitions so popular as to reach the mass public.

In 2021 they attended the Reina Sofia Museum 1,643,108 people, almost 400,000 more than in 2020, but almost 2.8 million fewer people compared to the last year of normality, when 4,425,699 visits passed through its three venues. So it grows 30% compared to 2020, but falls 62.8% compared to 2019. From the museum they want to highlight that the flow of the public has grown from May until the last four months, when the limitations of the capacity were relaxed. Of the total visits, 619,331 passed through the main headquarters, 746,406 through the Palacio de Cristal and 277,371 through the Palacio de Velázquez, both in the Retiro park. In other words, only 37.7% of the total visitors to the Reina Sofía Museum pass through the Sabatini building, where the Guernica along with the rest of the collection. Compared to 2020, only 200,000 more people have passed through the headquarters. And 65% of them do so with free admission. As every year, the free spaces of the Retreat receive most of the visits. In 2022, the Ministry of Culture has reserved an expansion of its contribution of four million euros.

At Thyssen Museum, the largest beneficiary of the accounts of the General State Budgets, with an increase of 11 million euros, closed 2021 with 671,078 visitors. From the public institution managed by the Thyssen Foundation, they highlight that the increase is 97% compared to 2020, when they barely added 341,008 visitors. The data "remains at 65% of those received in 2019, the year prior to the pandemic in which one million visitors (1,034,873) were exceeded". They say that the rooms of the permanent collection and those of temporary exhibitions increased their capacity to 75% until October. From that moment they recovered the full capacity in all the museum rooms except one floor. The temporary exhibitions of Georgia O'Keeffe Y The Magritte machine they have attracted 110,050 and 170,182 visitors, respectively. The samples Claudia Comte. After Nature Y Walid Raad. Cotton Under My Feet, organized by the TBA21 Foundation, led by Francesca Thyssen, have added 34,688 and 16,793 visitors respectively. "Reasonably satisfactory", the museum manager, Evelio Acevedo, has defined the results for 2021.

The Royal Sites, Royal Patronages, gardens and forests of National Heritage received 3,816,223 visits, in the 13 sets of monuments and green spaces in Madrid, Castilla y León, Extremadura and the Balearic Islands. However, in the count of the number of visits to the Royal Sites and Royal Patronages the figure falls to 1,430,112 visits. That is, 2,386,111 people passed through the natural spaces. The historic complex of the Royal Palace of Madrid, which received 1,547,967 visits in 2019, in 2021 stood at 429,456. That is, 72.2% less. The favorite green space has been the historic gardens of the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, with 939,045 visits. For its part, the Valley of the Fallen has added 135,888 visits in 2021. In 2019 there were 318,258 visits.

From the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao report that they reached 530,967 visitors in 2021, a "very positive" figure despite adding a 54.6% drop compared to 2019, when the center received 1,170,669 visitors. The people who passed through the Guggenheim last year are 45% of what they normally received. Compared to 2020, with 315,908 visits, it represents an increase of 68%, a higher figure than expected. They assure that in this recovery of the public it is due to temporary exhibitions Women of abstraction Y Alice Neel: People First. From the museum they indicate that their self-financing is around 62%. The rest are public aid.

For his part, Valencian Institute of Modern Art (IVAM), which was the institution that grew the most in 2019 when it exceeded 210,000 people, in 2021 the box office was 111,064 visitors to exhibitions and activities. Despite being almost half of the last year of normality, the figure is 33% better than the year of confinement. A fact that is repeated in the rest of the museums is the modification of the profile of the visitors: they are more home-based. "The trend of previous seasons in which most of the visitors were foreigners has been reversed," they point out from the museum. Mobility restrictions are the reason for this fact, which has made 62% of the museum's public residing in Spain (and 37% foreigners).

In the centers CaixaForum and CosmoCaixa, as well as in the exhibitions of the 'laCaixa' Foundation, they have added five million people. At the CaixaForum in Madrid there were more than 307,000 people and the most viewed exhibition was The human image: art, identities and symbolism.


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