Art galleries are the least visited heritage attraction for families, finds survey

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5th September 2019 16:38 - Museums, Libraries and Archives

Art galleries are least visited heritage attraction for families: A new survey looking at child-friendly heritage has found that art galleries are the least popular attraction for parents to attend with their children, with 35% saying they have never been to one with their family.

In contrast, museums were most popular in the poll commissioned by heritage insurance group, Ecclesiastical, with 90% saying they have taken their children. Looking at other heritage attractions, 31% said they have never visited a stately home with their children, while 23% have never taken their family to the theatre. Just 15% reported that they have never been to a castle with their children. 

As well as asking parents about their visits to heritage attractions, the research asked 2,008 parents with children under the age of 17 about their reasons for not visiting.

Negative Experiences 

The survey revealed that amongst the families who have vistied heritage attractions together, many have had negative experiences. Forty-three (43%) percent reported having at least one negative experience at art galleries, while others had negative experiences at stately homes (42%), museums (39%), theatres (38%), and castles (34%). 

A lack of play areas was the most common reason given for a negative experience at museums (11%) with the same percentage also given for art galleries. At theatres, the lack of parking was cited most frequently (9%). Other visitors making them feel uncomfortable or being unfriendly was reported by 9% of respondents who had visited an art gallery with their children, compared to 8% who said the same about  theatres and 6% at museums.   

Almost half (48%) of the fathers polled in the survey reported negative experiences at heritage attractions when visiting with their children compared to 40% of mothers.

Among the reasons given for why parents don't take their children to heritage attractions were 'lack of child-friendly activities', 'cost' and the perception that such attractions are not suited to children/child friendly. 

Initiatives that could help encourage parents to take their children to heritage venues included cheaper tickets, free entrance for kids, activities or special events for children as well as interactive displays or hands-on activities, according to the research. 

Frequency of visits

In regions outside of London, parents took their children to museums three times a year, the theatre, twice, and visited an art gallery just once. There was more engagement in the capital, with families visiting museums on average four times a year; galleries three times a year and the theatre also three times a year. 

"While many heritage organisations have done some fantastic work diversifying their offering to attract more families, clearly more needs to be done to encourage parents and their children to visit these incredible places," said Faith Kitchen, Heritage Director at Ecclesiastical. "By offering more activities for children and hands on activities, heritage organisations can help to inspire the next generation.”

Chairman of the Heritage Alliance, Peter Ainsworth, said: “I warmly congratulate Ecclesiastical on this work. Our wonderful Heritage is for everyone, of all ages and wherever we live. We were all children once and a love of beautiful and intriguing places, once sparked, never leaves us”.

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