Today, the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) releases the 2023 National Visitation Report.
This report is the only national effort to analyze trends in visitation at history organizations of all types and sizes across the United States. Through an annual survey, AASLH gathers visitation data to better understand year-to-year shifts in the way Americans engage with history organizations, and to provide organizational decision-makers with benchmark data against which they can compare their own institution.
This is the fifth consecutive year AASLH has conducted a visitation survey and issued a report. The 2023 report includes trends and analysis for visitation to history organizations in 2022.
Visits to history organizations increased by 37 percent from 2021 to 2022, a continuation of the recovery trend that began in 2021. Although this overall number represents substantial growth and is a positive sign for the field, most history institutions still received fewer visitors last year than they did before the beginning of the pandemic.
Year-to-year visitation changes vary considerably by budget size:
- Small institutions—those with annual budgets of less than $250,000—reported some of the largest visitation increases. These institutions reported longer closures in 2021 and sharper visitation declines during the height of the pandemic.
- Mid-sized to large institutions have reported greater difficulties returning to pre-pandemic visitation. For these institutions, with annual budgets between $1 million and $10 million, the average number of annual visitors reported in 2022 remains well below the levels reported throughout the 2010s.
- The largest institutions, with budgets greater than $10 million, have reported the most complete recovery in visitation figures.
- Fewer than half of respondents (43 percent) reported using virtual programming to reach their audiences, suggesting that online events and exhibits still serve as complement to more traditional forms of in-person engagement, not a replacement.
Next Survey in 2025
Moving forward, the National Visitation Survey will shift from an annual effort to a more intermittent schedule, as part of an effort to increase our response rate and provide more useful analysis. We plan to conduct the next survey in 2025.