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Extension > Community > Understanding Economic Change > Minnesota museums contribute $674 million in economic impact, U study finds

Minnesota museums contribute $674 million in economic impact, U study finds

May marks Minnesota Museums Month, the country's first monthlong, statewide celebration of museums

Media contact: Joyce Hoelting, U of M Extension, (612) 625-8233,

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, Minn. (5/2/2012) — Museums preserve our heritage, inspire artists, entertain and educate children, conserve the natural world and capture scientific advancements. But what kind of economic value do they bring to Minnesota?

The state's documented 562 museums provided an economic impact of $674 million in 2011, according to a new study by University of Minnesota Extension community economics researchers. This included $250 million in wages paid to an estimated 5,300 employees, and $157 million in capital improvements.

Museum tourists also generated $53 million in economic activity last year, and direct spending by museums had ripple effects across the state's construction, restaurant, health care and real estate industries.

This economic boon is yet another reason May is heralded as Minnesota Museums Month, the first monthlong, statewide celebration of museums in the nation.

"This study documents not only the economic value of museums in Minnesota, but reinforces the vital role museums play in our civic lives--bringing tourists into our communities and enriching our volunteer opportunities," said Brigid Tuck, Extension community economics educator and a lead researcher on the study.

The study by Extension's economic impact analysis team, conducted in partnership with the Minnesota Association of Museums and University of Minnesota Tourism Center, surveyed Minnesota's museums, collecting information about their operations, expenditures and visitors. The response rate was 43 percent.

Minnesota's tourism industry also benefited from museums, the study found. An estimated 1.7 million people visited museums outside of their home regions in 2011, spending an average of $24.35 each.

"Museums play an important role in the tourism attraction mix for a community and our state's $11 billion dollar tourism industry," said Ingrid Schneider, director of the University of Minnesota Tourism Center and professor in the Department of Forest Resources. "This groundbreaking research for Minnesota is the first step to understand the cumulative impact of museums in our lives, economically and beyond."

The economic impact of museums in Minnesota has never been measured before, according to Tuck. Each of the state's 87 counties is home to at least one museum.

For more information on Extension's economic impact analysis program, visit To access the study, visit

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The University of Minnesota Tourism Center is a collaboration of the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and University of Minnesota Extension.

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