Press Release

2011 Museum Attendance Press Release

Released on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 | Print Release



CHICAGO – Jan. 26, 2012 – Despite a still-struggling economy, Chicago-area museum and zoo attendance remained steady in 2011, and several institutions saw a significant increase in numbers.

The 10 museums that comprise Museums In the Park (MIP) collaborate with four additional organizations on the Museums Work for Chicago public awareness campaign. Overall attendance at the 14 institutions in 2011 was 14.4 million, virtually the same as 2010.

“The numbers show that Chicagoans and visitors alike know they can count on our museums and zoos for a terrific experience,” said Gary T. Johnson, president of the Chicago History Museum and president of Museums In the Park.

Some institutions experienced an increase in attendance, including Adler Planetarium (4 percent), Field Museum (5 percent), Museum of Science and Industry (6 percent), Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (6 percent), John G. Shedd Aquarium (3 percent), Chicago Children’s Museum (5 percent), and Chicago Botanic Garden (5 percent). New exhibits at those institutions contributed to the bump in attendance.

“We are excited that for the second consecutive year we grew our attendance by 6 percent,” said Deborah Lahey, President and CEO of The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. “In 2011, we were especially proud to open Nature Trails, our first outdoor exhibition. Nature Trails is a one-third mile trail just outside our doors that showcases the lush vegetation and the abundant local flora and fauna found in our urban ecosystem. Whether inside our walls or outside, we look forward to continuing to nurture positive relationships between our guests and the nature that surrounds us, right here in the city.”

The number of school and youth group visitors also remained stable compared to 2010, with nearly 1.6 million children and teens visiting the 14 institutions through field trips and outings.

“We’re pleased that so many guests are able to explore science with us,” said David Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry. “There are so many dynamic experiences happening at MSI every day, from award-winning exhibits like Science Storms to hands-on, live science. We’re also thrilled that for the third year in a row we have hosted the most students on field trips of any Chicago museum, with more than 351,000 students visiting in 2011. We hope that these kids have been inspired to look at science in a new way, and maybe even one day pursue science for their careers.”

MIP institutions that welcomed the largest numbers of visitors include John G. Shedd Aquarium (more than 2.1 million visitors); the Museum of Science and Industry (more than 1.5 million visitors); the Art Institute of Chicago (more than 1.4 million visitors); and the Field Museum (more than 1.2 million visitors). Within the partner organizations, Lincoln Park Zoo attracted the most visitors, with an estimated steady attendance of 3 million; Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo reported attendance of more than 2.1 million visitors; and Chicago Botanic Garden had record attendance with more than 953,000 visitors.

“Our members and visitors have come to rely on the Chicago Botanic Garden as a place to enjoy and gain knowledge, a respite from a busy day or a place to find comfort and peace,” said Sophia Siskel, President and CEO of the Chicago Botanic Garden. “We believe that people live healthier, better and more satisfying lives when they can create, care for and enjoy a garden. Demand for the Garden has never been stronger and our relevance and impact have never been greater.”

Museums Work for Chicago was formed to highlight the contributions these 14 institutions make to the region and to raise public awareness of their important economic and educational benefits to the city, region and state.

The 14 Museums Work For Chicago museums and zoos are: Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children’s Museum, Chicago History Museum, Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo, DuSable Museum of African American History, The Field Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo, Museum of Contemporary Art, Museum of Science and Industry, National Museum of Mexican Art, The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and John G. Shedd Aquarium.

The Museums In the Park acknowledge the generous support of the Chicago Park District and the people of Chicago.


Media Relations at Museums in the Park