Metropolitan Museum Exhibitions

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.

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.”

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; Roxy 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.

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.

Roxy 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.

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