/, Press Release/Net Income Trends Are Good News for Museum Sustainability

Net Income Trends Are Good News for Museum Sustainability

Economic sustainability is a concern for museums, zoos, aquariums, botanic gardens, and historic sites. Recent data suggests that those institutions are typically seeing positive growth in net income, even with declines in revenue or increases in expenses.

Preston Argus, LLC, has analyzed The Urban Institute’s NCCS Core Files, 2011-2015.  Those files show that most institution categories saw revenue growth that exceeded expense growth and robust net income growth, with a few notable exceptions.

Average Annual Rate of Change for Total Revenue, Total Expenses, and Net Income for Museums, Historic Sites, Zoos, Aquariums, and Other Cultural Institutions, 2011 to 2015

Total Revenue Total Expenses Net Income
All Institutions 9.03% 8.98% 13.47%
Museums 8.78% 5.67% 26.48%
Art Museums 6.01% 7.85% 8.47%
Children’s Museums 4.63% 1.73% 144.78%
Folk Arts Museums -4.55% 0.02% 89.32%
History Museums 4.33% 1.84% 40.19%
Natural History & Natural Science Museums 5.48% 4.01% -264.28%
Science & Technology Museums 8.31% 5.38% 76.46%
Historical Organizations 6.76% 9.10% -0.99%
Historical Societies & Historic Preservation 3.33% 5.33% -4.35%
Botanical Gardens & Arboreta 150.07% 135.35% 380.59%
Zoos & Aquariums 41.44% 39.67% 64.02%


Some categories, like Folk Arts Museums, have overcome revenue declines by controlling expenses and improving internal efficiencies.  Other categories, like Historical Societies and Historic Preservation, will need to adjust their revenue and expense strategies and tactics to improve their sustainability.  The first step is knowing these numbers and comparing them to your individual institution to determine areas for improvement.

To obtain data customized to your geographic location or subdiscipline, like Historic House Museums, contact Samantha Chmelik, principal at Preston Argus, at info@prestonargusllc.com.

2018-12-19T12:17:02+00:00December 19th, 2018|Museums, Press Release|

About the Author:

Samantha Chmelik, principal of Preston Argus, uses her background in operations management, benchmarking, and strategic planning to help cultural and history organizations implement their missions. She has worked and volunteered at libraries, museums, and non-profit organizations for two decades. She is also the author of Museum and Historic Site Management: A Case Study Approach, Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and Museum Operations: A Handbook of Tools, Templates, and Models, Rowman & Littlefield, 2017.