Museums remain a popular attraction in Estonia. According to information released by Statistics Estonia on Friday, a total of 3.5 million museum visits were recorded in 2016, up six percent from the year before.
The share of foreign tourists visiting museums has remained at the same level in recent years, accounting for 36 percent of all museum visits in 2016. The share of foreign tourists was the biggest in Harju County, reaching 49 percent.
Estonian residents made a total of 2.2 million museum visits last year, or approximately two visits per person.
As it is the Year of Children's and Youth Culture, Statistics Estonia took a closer look at youths' relationships with museums. Children under 9 years of age visited museums 277,000 times in 2016, an 18 percent increase over 2015 figures. The number of educational programs organized by museums has also continued to grow, with almost 450,000 youth under the age of 19 participating in these programs last year.
While special museums were visited the most overall, followed by art museums and archaeology and history museums with slightly smaller visitor numbers, the clear preference of museum visitors under 9 years of age was special museums, followed by natural history museums and science and technology museums.
Households with children more likely to visit museums
According to the 2015 cultural participation survey, the presence of children in the household has a positive impact on museum visits. While 45 percent of all Estonian habitants had visited a museum at least once, among households with at least one child up to 15 years of age, 55 had visited a museum in 2015. In comparison, of those living in households without children, just 41 percent had visited a museum that year.
Estonia boasted a total of 246 museums in 2016, one third of which belonged to the state, one third to local governments and one third of which were in private ownership. On average, museums were open to visitors 226 days per year. 1,988 people were employed in museums last year.
One of the biggest events in the museum field last year was the opening of the new main building of the Estonian National Museum in the Raadi district of Tartu. As the new exhibition building was open to visitors for just the last three months of the year, 2016 data does not yet reflect the considerable growth in museum visits in Tartu County.
Night of Museums on May 20
It has become tradition that once per year, as part of the European Night of Museums, many museums are open longer than usual and free events are organized for a wider audience. This year, the Night of Museums will take place on Saturday, May 20 and, befitting of Estonia's Year of Children's and Youth Culture, this year's theme is "Games in the Night."