Metropolitan Museum Exhibitions Create $593 Million Economic Impact for New York

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  • December 08, 2009

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"The Model as Muse, Embodying Fashion"
Metropolitan Museum of Art


The Metropolitan Museum's summer 2009 opening of its New American Wing, along with the concurrent presentation of three highly acclaimed and widely attended special exhibitions—Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion—generated $593 million in spending by regional, national, and foreign tourists to New York, according to a visitor survey the Museum released today. Using the industry standard for calculating tax revenue impact, the study found that the direct tax benefit to the City and State from out-of-town visitors to the Museum totaled some $59.3 million. (Study findings are attached.)

The survey found that 74% of the visitors traveled from outside the five boroughs of New York. Of these, 16% were from the Greater New York Metropolitan Area, 47% were from other states and 37% were international visitors. Eighty-two percent of travelers reported staying overnight in the City, and almost three-quarters of these visitors (72%) stayed in a hotel or motel. The average length of stay in the City was 6.2 nights.

These visitors reported spending an average $662 per person during their stay in New York on expenses for lodging, dining, sightseeing, entertainment, admission to other museums, and local transportation, and another $312 on shopping. (The estimate does not include travel to the City.) Thirty-seven percent reported making a first visit to the Museum, and 23% reported their first visit in years. More than one in three planned their visit well in advance (at least two weeks prior to traveling).

Thomas P. Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum, noted: "We are very pleased to report that the Met—and its continually changing program of special exhibitions in a variety of curatorial areas—continues to attract out-of-town visitors to New York, thereby generating important revenues for the City and the State. During these challenging times, culture has taken on an ever more vital role in New York: it provides education and enlightenment to diverse audiences, while also producing economic benefits to our City. We have made a commitment to maintain our programs and keep our galleries open, ensuring that we remain an important cultural resource for the City, the country, and the world."

"Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom"
Metropolitan Museum of Art

Stated Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum, who serves also as Chairman of NYC&Co., the City's tourism bureau: "Tourism is the leading engine of New York's economy, and the City's museums continue to contribute enormously toward its vitality, as the latest survey shows. The numbers once again affirm the Metropolitan's impact on New York, confirming other recent independent surveys that indicate that museums play an enormous role in influencing out-of-state and foreign visitors to choose New York as their destination."

The survey of visitors to The New American Wing; Roxie Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion is the most recent of a series of audience studies undertaken by the Metropolitan to calculate the public economic impact of renovating it galleries and presenting special exhibitions. In 2007, for example, the Museum reported that the New Greek and Roman Galleries had generated $567 million in economic impact. The Museum's 2004 El Greco retrospective was found to have generated $345 million in economic impact and, in 2000, visitors to Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids generated some $307 million.

Using a scale of 1 to 10 to determine how important seeing at least one of the Museum's summer offerings was in their decision to visit New York City, 21% of visitors surveyed gave a rating of 8 or higher, and 43% gave a rating of 8 or higher to visiting the Metropolitan Museum in general. The economic impact is estimated to be $124 million for just those individuals who indicated that seeing the exhibitions was important in their decision to visit New York City and $255 million for those who wanted to see the Museum in general, yielding tax benefits of $12.4 and $25.5 million respectively. Extrapolating the results from the summer, the full-year estimate of visitor spending in New York by the 3.7 million out-of-town visitors to the Museum in fiscal year 2009, is $3.6 billion.

"Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective"
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The latest economic development survey was conducted during the week of June 9 by the Museum's Visitor Services Department/Office of Market Research, with analysis provided by Karin Grafström, Market Research Manager.

The New American Wing features a totally transformed presentation of the Museum's superlative collection of American sculpture and decorative arts; the spectacular, light-filled Charles Engelhard Court; and a series of 12 early American period rooms, all reopened on May 19, after two years of construction and renovation.

Roxie Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom, a complex and dramatic site-specific sculpture by a young conceptual artist, is composed of thousands of variously sized, cylindrical stainless-steel pipes and rods welded together to evoke whirling water or a neural network. It is the largest sculpture ever installed on the Museum's Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The installation opened April 28 and will remain on view until November 29.

Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective was the first major New York exhibition in 20 years devoted to one of the most important—and controversial—painters of the 20th century. The Metropolitan Museum was the sole U.S. venue for this landmark presentation. The exhibition was on view May 20 through August 16.

The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion was a dynamic exploration of the relationship between high fashion and evolving ideals of beauty as represented by iconic fashion models in the latter half of the 20th century. The exhibition opened May 6 and closed August 9.

Roxie Paine: Made possible by Bloomberg. Additional support by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky. Also made possible in part by Jill and Peter Kraus. Francis Bacon: Made possible by Bank of America. Additional support provided by The Daniel and Estrellita Brodsky Foundation and Paula Cussi. Organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and Tate Britain, London, in partnership with the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The Model as Muse: Made possible by Marc Jacobs. Additional support by Condé Nast.

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Results of Visitor Survey
The New American Wing, Part 2 and the exhibitions Roxie Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse; Embodying Fashion
June 2009

A survey of 550 visitors to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in June 2009 demonstrates that visitor spending by individuals from out of town generated $593 million of economic activity and provided an estimated direct tax benefit to New York City and State of $59.3 million. The survey included visitors to one recently renovated suite of permanent galleries—The New American Wing—or one of three special exhibitions—Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion.

Key findings
• The vast majority of the Met's visitors are from out of town. Three-quarters (74%) of visitors surveyed were from outside the five boroughs of New York City.

• Of the out-of-town visitors, 16% were from the Greater New York Metropolitan area, 47% from other US states, and 37% were international. International visitors on average spend more and stay longer than domestic visitors.

• More than eighty percent (82%) of the out-of-town visitors stayed overnight in the City, and the median length of stay was 6.2 days. Almost three quarters (72%) of these stayed in a hotel.

• Out-of-town visitors reported spending on average $662 on expenses and another $312 on shopping during their visit to New York, yielding an estimated $593 million in spending by visitors to the exhibitions. Using an estimate of a 10% tax rate on spending (combining sales and hotel taxes), the tax benefit for New York City and State would be roughly $59.3 million.

• During their stay in NYC, visitors participated in many other cultural activities: 64% visited other museums, 54% saw a Broadway show, and 17% attended an opera, ballet, or concert.

• 43% of the out-of-town visitors reported that their visit to The Met was a determining factor in their decision to visit New York. Out-of-town visitors were asked how important seeing particular special exhibitions, and visiting the Met in general, were to their decision to visit New York City. Using a 1 (not at all important) to 10 (very important) scale, 21% of visitors gave a rating of 8 or above with regard to the exhibitions, and 43% gave a rating of 8 or above to visiting The Met in general.

• Using just those individuals who said the exhibitions or the Museum were highly important in their visiting decision, the visitor spending estimate would be $124 million (for the exhibitions) or $255 million (for the Museum in general). These figures would yield tax benefit estimates of $12.4 million and $25.5 million respectively.

• More than one-third (36%) made their plans to visit the Met more than two weeks in advance.

• More than one in three (37%) said it was their first visit. One quarter (25%) are frequent visitors, coming at least 4 times a year.

• The median age for visitors surveyed was 48, with 21% over 65. As is typical for the Met, visitors are highly educated, with half (50%) holding a master's degree or higher. Met visitors also have high incomes; the median reported income was $82,000 and 40% had income over $100,000.

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About Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums. Its collections include more than two million works of art spanning 5,000 years of world culture, from prehistory to the present and from every part of the globe. Founded in 1870, the Metropolitan Museum is located in New York City's Central Park along Fifth Avenue (from 80th to 84th Streets). Last year it was visited by 5.2 million people.

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