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By The Numbers, Good Museum News in Virginia

ANyergesEarlier this week, when I received an email from the American Folk Art Museum, I thought it was doing well–getting back on its feet after a disastrous over-expansion.

Anne-Imelda Radice, the director, wrote that:

We closed the fiscal year with great news: 150,018 visitors came through our doors, experiencing exhibitions, programs, events, the shop, and more. This represents a 30% increase from the previous year.

Then there was even better news in an email from the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where the metrics seem to be astounding. The email was about the museum’s economic impact–it “generated more than $145 M for the state”–but take a look at this chart:

FY2008 FY2014                         % change
VMFA Attendance 118,470 464,534 292%
Statewide Program Attendance 205,987 616,817 199%
Museum Members 8,353 34,628 315%
Membership Income $1,440,000 $4,003,917 178%
Exhibitions 1/year 4-5 major exhibitions & 4 major gallery reinstallations/year 400%
Acquisitions 141 1,080 666%

Of course, I have nothing from other museums for direct comparison. And I know full well that negative statistics were, of course, left off the chart. Nonetheless, the record of Alex Nyerges, who became director in 2006, seems to be impressive.

He said:
The museum is becoming more globally recognized, and this is evident most prominently in our exhibitions and acquisitions. The amount of art we have acquired has grown exponentially since the museum’s transformative expansion in 2010. By continuing to curate world-class exhibitions, offering programs for all ages, and providing free general admission 365 days a year, we have built an environment for all Virginians to visit, learn, and spend their free time.
I’ve applauded the 365-day-a-year schedule before, and stand by that.
For more information about VMFA’s economic impact study, go here.


  1. http://Susan%20Crawley says

    It’s the American FOLK Art Museum that announced such welcome news this week.

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