Museum visits fell by more than half in 2020

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The new permanent exhibition at Tallinn's Maritime Museum at Fat Margaret tower. Source: Hendrik Osula

The number of visits to museums in Estonia was a little over 1.7 million last year which is more than half the number in 2019, data from Statistics Estonia shows.

Kaire Raasik, lead analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that the number of museum sites is the biggest in Harju and Tartu counties, as the museums in the two counties combined have exactly one hundred museum sites.

"The museums in Harju county had an attendance over 700,000, while the museums in Tartu county had slightly over 375,000 visits last year. This means that the remaining nearly 640,000 visits were distributed between all other counties," said Raasik. 

Museum attendance in Estonia, 2010-2020. Source: Statistics Estonia.

Raasik explained that the fall in museum attendance was mainly caused by travel restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic that started last year. Museums were especially severely affected by the sudden drop in the number of foreign tourists visiting Estonia.

"Compared to 2019, foreign tourists made four times fewer visits to museums. In 2019, every third museum visit was made by a foreign tourist, while last year only every fifth visit was made by a foreign tourist," she said.

Museum attendance per 1,000 inhabitants was a little over 1,300, with the highest attendance registered in Lääne (3,392) and Saare (2,853) counties and the lowest attendance in Rapla (221) and Viljandi counties (291).

Last year there were 175 museums in Estonia and 227 museum sites. 

The most common types of museums in Estonia were place museums (86) focusing on a particular place or area, thematic museums (61) focusing on a specific theme, and archaeology and history museums (44). Museums had 1,517 employees; there were 1,397 jobs in full-time equivalents.

In 2020, there were 981 exhibitions in museums, which is 258 less than the year before.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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