Pandemic Fallout: MFAH Among Texas Museums Experiencing Attendance Drop

by Christopher Blay April 8, 2021

Inside MFAH’s Kinder building

A week ago The Art Newspaper, which surveys museums annually, released its 2020 polling of museums world wide and confirmed a trend that could be seen as predictable considering the forced shut-downs of businesses during the Coronavirus pandemic. The paper found a 77% drop in attendance for the most-visited art museums in the world.

The precipitous fall from 2230 million visitors in 2019 to 54 million in 2020 hit close to home. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, which ranks 51 on the list of 100 most-visited museums, saw 401, 395 visitors in 2020 and was closed for 87 days due to the pandemic.

visitors at the Louvre in Paris

Visitors at the Louvre in Paris.

Musée du Louvre in Paris saw the most visitors in 2020, despite the pandemic’s rage through Europe. Although the Louvre’s large number of visitors, 2.7 million, is noteworthy, it’s 72% fewer people than visited in 2019.

Glasstire reached out to other Texas museums to see how they’ve fared, and their reports reflect the global downward visitor trend.

At the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, the numbers were a bit skewed. “While we definitely saw a decrease in 2020, we also had an unusual 2019 as we were closed for almost the same amount of time as we were in 2020 due to construction,” states Kimberly Daniell, the Amon Carter’s Head of Communication.

The Amon Carter’s total 2020 attendance was 31,045; the museum was closed for 93 day, a drop of 52% from 2019 and 69% from fully operational years. In 2019, due to construction closures, its total attendance was 64, 217.

Installation view of Shirin Neshat: I Will Greet the Sun Again at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

A couple of blocks down at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, its usual visitor numbers of 200,000- 240,000 (in a high attendance year) dwindled to 63,000; the museum was closed from March 14-July 1 of 2020.

Glasstire also reached out to the Kimbell Art Museum and the Nasher Sculpture Center, and will share information as it becomes available. In Dallas, the Dallas Museum of Art, which also contributed to the Art Newspaper survey, informed us that its total number of visitors in 2020 was 218,405, and it was closed for 109 days.

Undoubtedly these figures will be dramatically different for 2021 as museums continue to open their doors to a larger number of visitors.

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