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Summer exhibitions at Metropolitan Museum stimulate $781 million economic impact for New York
Visitors look at a structure by Tomas Saraceno called "Cloud City" during a media preview on the rooftop of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Monday, May 14, 2012. The maker of Cloud City, Argentine artist Tomas Saraceno, wants to provoke the feeling of being in a cloud floating in the middle of several realities. AP Photo/Seth Wenig.

NEW YORK, NY.- Three widely acclaimed and highly attended exhibitions in the spring/summer 2012 season at The Metropolitan Museum of Art—Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations; Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City; and The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde—generated an estimated $781 million in spending by regional, national, and foreign tourists to New York, according to a visitor survey the Museum released today. Using the industry standard for calculating tax revenue impact, the study found that the direct tax benefit to the City and State from out-of-town visitors to the Museum for the season totaled some $78.1 million.

The Museum’s report was released today as it was being submitted to a joint hearing of the New York City Council Committees on Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations, and Small Business.

The survey of visitors to Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations; Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City; and The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde is the most recent of a series of audience studies undertaken by the Metropolitan over the years to calculate the public economic impact of its special exhibition program. In 2011 the Museum found that Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty; Anthony Caro on the Roof; Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective; and Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century—generated $908 million; the summer 2009 opening of the New American Wing, along with the concurrent presentation of Roxy Paine on the Roof: Maelstrom; Francis Bacon: A Centenary Retrospective; and The Model as Muse: Embodying Fashion, generated $593 million; and three exhibitions of the summer 2008 season—J. M. W. Turner, Jeff Koons on the Roof, and Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy—generated $610 million.

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations, on view from May 10 through August 19, 2012, attracted 339,838 visitors. Attendance for Tomás Saraceno on the Roof: Cloud City from May 15 through August 31, when this survey was completed, was 368,370 (the exhibition will close on November 4, 2012). The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde, on view from February 28 through June 3, 2012, drew 323,792 visitors.

Using a scale of one to ten, 26% of visitors responded with a rating of 8 or above when asked how important seeing one of the three exhibitions was in motivating them to visit New York, and 51% gave a rating of 8 or above with regard to the Met. The primary purpose of traveling to New York was pleasure for 86% of visitors, business for 3%, and combined business and pleasure for 11%.

The survey found that 80% of visitors traveled to the Museum this summer from outside the five boroughs of New York. Of these, 23% were from the Tri-State area, 30% were from other states, and 47% were international visitors. Seventy-nine percent of out-of-town visitors reported staying overnight in the City, and almost three-quarters (72% of the 79%) of these visitors stayed in a hotel, B&B, hostel, or rented apartment. The median length of stay in the City was five days.

During their stay in New York, these visitors reported spending an average $775 on lodging, dining, sightseeing, entertainment, and admission to other museums, and another $403 on shopping. Spending per person increased this year by 27%, compared to the amount cited in last year’s study. For 65% percent, this was their first visit to the Museum or first in several years.

The economic development impact of these exhibitions on the City does not provide direct extra benefit to the Museum, which maintains a policy of welcoming visitors to special exhibitions without imposing extra fees. All exhibitions are free with the Museum’s suggested admission.

Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum, noted: “In a year of exceptionally strong tourism to the City, it gives us great pleasure to report that the Met remains a top cultural attraction and a vital part of New York’s economic engine, generating substantial revenues for the City and the State.”

Emily K. Rafferty, President of the Metropolitan Museum—who also serves as chair of NYC & Company, the city’s official tourism agency—noted: “Culture plays a vital role in the life of our City, and it is also a major motivating factor for tourists who travel here.”

New York City Council Member and Chair of the Cultural Affairs Committee Jimmy Van Bramer said, “The massive financial impact of the Metropolitan Museum of Art is impressive and Thomas Campbell and Emily Rafferty are to be congratulated for their outstanding work in bringing meaningful, powerful and popular exhibits to the Met. Over 50 million tourists visited New York City last year, spending more than $34 billion in the local economy. Arts and culture is at the center of the tourism economy, and the Met's survey results stand out showing that culture serves as an ever increasing economic driver in the City.”

The full-year estimate of visitor spending in New York by out-of-town visitors to the Museum in Fiscal Year 2012 is $5.7 billion. Last fiscal year, the Metropolitan Museum welcomed 6.28 million visitors, an increase of almost 600,000 over the prior year, and the highest level in over 40 years.

The latest economic development survey was conducted by the Museum’s Visitor Services Department/Office of Market Research.

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