ASK ELi: Broad Museum Attendance?

Friday, October 23, 2015, 7:39 am
By: 
Alice Dreger

A reader asks: Did anyone ever really claim (before it was built) that the Eli Broad Museum would draw a million visitors a year? What’s the real attendance?

What we didn’t find out: I searched pretty well and I can’t find any claims dating before or after the building opened that it would draw such large numbers. Maybe someone made such a claim, and maybe he or she seriously believed it, but if so, I haven’t been able to find it.

What we did find out: According to a State News article from two years ago, “the East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group conducted market opportunity analysis for the museum in 2012, and estimated that in its first year, the museum would see 150,000 patrons and generate nearly $6 million in revenue.”

Bill Matt, the Broad’s Deputy Director of Administration and Operations since fall 2014, sent the following updated numbers when I inquired about attendance:

“[T]he first year we opened (November 2012-October 2013) we had 108,356 visitors.  The second year (N-O, 2013-14) we had 59,894 visitors.” He estimates that this year, the Broad will “be right around 61,000.”

Matt adds, “Our opening year was of course exceptionally high, and since then have leveled out but perform pretty consistently since then. We are excited to report that for the months of July, August and September of this year, our attendance is over 2,000 visitors higher than last year during the same period. I attribute this to the strength of our exhibitions, public programs and marketing efforts.  Regardless of the primary factor, we are very pleased to see an uptick in visitors!”

I also asked whether visitors are coming from out of town to visit the Broad Museum. Matt says, “Our records indicate visitors from all 50 states and more than 75 countries.  We currently do not collect data on whether or not visitors’ primary purpose was to visit the Broad, but that is an excellent question.”

Anecdotally, when ELi’s Managing Editor Ann Nichols and I were at Red Haven for lunch about two weeks ago, about 50 people (mostly senior citizens) from the Chicago area came off a bus to have lunch, and we learned from Red Haven staff that the main purpose of their trip was to visit the Broad Museum.

Our thanks to Bill Matt for helping us answer this question. The website of the Broad Museum is: http://broadmuseum.msu.edu/

Have a question you want to ask ELi to investigate? Contact us!