During the latter part of 2018, Museums & Galleries of NSW undertook a comprehensive survey of the sector. It was the third major census of the small-to-medium museum and gallery sector with previous censuses having been undertaken in 2013 and 1999.
Using the M&G NSW contact database as a starting point, the 2018 Sector Census attempted to contact every operational museum, gallery and Aboriginal cultural centre in NSW that have collections and or provide exhibitions, are accessible to the public on a regular basis and operated on a not-for-profit basis.
We identified 524 organisations that met the criteria including 337 community run and managed museums, 58 public and regional galleries, 58 public and regional museums, 39 community run and managed galleries and artist run initiatives and 32 Aboriginal cultural centres.
The overall objective of this study was to gain factual and reliable data for the sector on collections, staffing levels, facilities, funding and visitation. By comparing this data against previous census findings we are able to provide an overview and health check of the sector and build on previous research. It also assists M&G NSW in developing policies, advocacy and directing our future programs and services.
The survey was conducted online and by phone over a 3 month period and received 377 respondents. Approximately two thirds of respondents were from regional NSW.
Some key findings of the census include:
Surveyed organisations reported visitor numbers of more than 5 ½ million in 2017.This included over 3 million visitors across Regional NSW.*
*Regional NSW includes all areas of NSW outside of the greater Sydney Metro area.
Organisations reported an average of 10,000 objects per collection across the sector.
90% of organisations manage a collection, yet less than half of these collections have been fully catalogued. Organisations reported 824,957 individual items currently in collections with over 3 million additional items estimated.
Half of all museums described their collection as relating to the immediate local history of their region.
EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS
Organisations reported a total number of 4069 exhibitions and 21,572 events/public programs across NSW. Of these, 2955 exhibitions and 15,312 events/public programs took place in Regional NSW.
STAFF and VOLUNTEERS
Respondent museums and galleries directly support 797 equivalent full time employees.
Over half of all organisations surveyed rely solely on volunteers.
The organisations surveyed reported 8,629 active volunteers giving almost 5 million hours in 2017, worth over $150 million per annum.*
* Figure based on wage rates per hour as detailed in Unpaid Work and the Australian Economy estimates from ABS data, with increases to account for average wage since 2010
96% of respondents have an online presence in some form and 88% of organisations reported using social media. This is significant increase from the 2013 figures which indicated only 71% had on-site access to the internet and less than half of all organisations reported having a facebook page.