Museum attendance fell despite a large number of exhibitions

Posted on 13. May 2022 8:00

According to Statistics Estonia, in 2021, there were 174 museums in Estonia with 229 museum sites. The number of museum visits was nearly 1.7 million, which is 59,000 fewer than in 2020 and the lowest in the past 18 years.

Erik Lest, analyst at Statistics Estonia, said that the fall in museum attendance in the past two years has been strongly linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting nationwide restrictions and waves of infection. “However, this year promises to be brighter for museums, as there was no significant drop in attendance in 2021, compared to 2020, and the lifting of restrictions may encourage people to engage in cultural activities again,” added the analyst.

In 2021, museum attendance per 1,000 inhabitants was 1,261, with the highest attendance registered in Saare (3,062) and Lääne (2,978) counties and the lowest attendance in Viljandi (289) and Rapla (224) counties.

Museum attendance per thousand inhabitants by county

The coronavirus pandemic has also had an impact on foreign tourist activity. While in 2020, more than 320,000 foreign tourists visited museums, in 2021 the number was just under 240,000, a quarter less than the year before. “In 2019, every third museum visit was made by a foreign tourist, while in 2020 every fifth and in 2021 every seventh visit was made by a foreign tourist,” added Lest.

The most common types of museum in Estonia were place museums focusing on a particular place or area (85), thematic museums focusing on a specific theme (64), and archaeology and history museums (43). Museums had 1,566 employees, which is slightly more than in 2020, and there were 1,420 jobs in full-time equivalents.

There were 1,078 exhibitions in museums, which is 97 more than the year before.

For the statistical activity “Museum”, the main representative of public interest is the Ministry of Culture, commissioned by whom Statistics Estonia analyses the data necessary for this statistical activity. The classification of museums is based on the UNESCO classification.


More detailed data have been published in the statistical database.

See also the museums section on our website.


For further information:

Hanna-Liisa Ruul

Communications Partner
Marketing and Dissemination Department
Statistics Estonia
Tel +372 625 9264

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