US art museums generate $52bn in well-being benefits annually, study finds

Image by the Barnes Foundation

Image by the Barnes Foundation

A recent study conducted by the Oregon-based Institute for Learning makes a breakthrough contribution to the societal conversation about how to assign quantitative economic value to the well-being provided by museums to the public. The study affirms the multi-faceted and persistent benefits provided by widespread engagement with cultural-institutions and aesthetic experiences. We hope this developing dialogue about the tangible benefits of the arts to mental health and physical wellbeing result in increased engagement with the arts and investment in the cultural institutions which provide them.

"Admission to an art museum in the US might set you back $15 or $25 or nothing at all, depending on where and who you are. But a new study that sets out to measure the societal value of museums in monetary terms estimates that a single visit will pay dividends many times over in benefits to your well-being, equivalent to more than $900 per adult visitor.

Eleven medium to large US art museums participated in the study, conducted by the Oregon-based Institute for Learning Innovation, including the Barnes Foundation; Cleveland Museum of Art; Denver Art Museum; Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Milwaukee Art Museum; Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art; New Orleans Museum of Art; Oakland Museum of California; Saint Louis Art Museum and Walters Art Museum. The findings were presented at the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) annual conference in Denver last month.

Researchers collected the data from a randomised sample of 1,942 adults who visited the participating museums between May and September 2022. One group was asked to assess whether their experience of visiting an art museum improved their well-being across four different dimensions—personal, intellectual, social and physical—and to estimate how long they felt each of those positive effects lasted afterwards. The survey focused, for instance, on variables such as whether visitors felt relaxed and refreshed, whether the museum experience gave them a sense of awe and whether it had opened up new perspectives in their thinking." Read More at The Art Newspaper