Midway through 2016, as a result of budget cuts to the arts, it was decided to reintroduce admission charges at a number of Copenhagen’s public museums and galleries.
Over two years down the line, figures from Denmark’s national gallery, Statens Museum for Kunst (SMK), unsurprisingly perhaps, reveal that the number of visitors has dropped dramatically.
Last year, SMK expected 391,250 visitors but the number was only 309,000, leading to a loss of 1.4 million kroner.
Truth in the numbers
Culture does not come cheaply: a normal day ticket for an adult over the age of 26 now costs 120 kroner.
Over a four-year period, SMK has seen visitor numbers fall by almost 150,000: from 451,195 in 2015, the last full year in which it was free to visit, to 308,974 last year.
Aiming for a broader public
“We’ve been too optimistic in our prognosis as well as putting our faith in an exhibition program that has been too narrow for our audience,” SMK’s curator, Mikkel Bogh, told DR’s P1 Kultur program.
According to Bogh, the museum has already learnt from its mistakes and is turning the tide.
From 2016 to the end of 2018 opening hours were reduced to save money but from the beginning of this year, they have been extended.
“Looking forwards, we’ve changed the program so our two [yearly] major exhibitions will be less niche-orientated. Our major exhibitions ought to be able to attract more than the 25,000 visitors that came to our spring exhibition on the art of drawing,” said Bogh.
Bogh intends to market the major exhibitions better, as well as focusing more on the permanent collection.
“There’s room for 500,000 visitors at SMK per year, and that ought to be possible to achieve,” Bogh added.