State museum and historic sites attendance on the mend - Albuquerque Journal

State museum and historic sites attendance on the mend

John Roybal holds his two-year-old son Ezekiel Roybal as they view a living Lungfish at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science in Albuquerque, on Friday. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The arts in New Mexico remain a driving economic factor.

New Mexico’s eight state-run museums and seven historic sites brought in $2.8 million in revenue in fiscal 2022, close to the $3 million brought in during pre-pandemic 2019.

“We are pleased to see a rapid rise in attendance and revenue across the agency this past year,” said Debra Garcia y Griego, Cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs.

In fiscal year 2022, 636,177 people visited the state-run attractions – more than four times what it was in fiscal 2021, when the pandemic closed the museums for eight months. The visitor numbers totaled only 149,316 that year. The number was 617,407 in 2020, when the sites were closed for four months.

Attendance has yet to reach the pre-pandemic levels – a total of 992,574 visited the state’s cultural sites in fiscal year 2019. But attendance is returning, said Daniel Zillmann, Cultural Affairs spokesman.

Eric Edwards, an observatory volunteer at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science views sun flares through a telescope Friday. (Chancey Bush/Journal)

And Garcia y Griego noted Cultural Affairs employees provided innovative programs for New Mexicans during the pandemic.

“Serving the people of New Mexico through the stewardship of our state’s cultural resources is at the center of our mission,” she said. “Our staff are proven innovators of programs that reach across the state through exhibits, engaging educational activities, virtual programming and the distribution of hands-on activity kits and books.”

She also noted that the social media and engagement numbers have also increased.

During the pandemic, as the museums and sites were closed to the public, each museum took to social media to create engagement in and outside of the state.

According to the fiscal year 2022 data, there’s been a 7.4% increase across all of the department with 398,271 impressions.

As for visitors, the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science remains the state’s most visited museum with 198,347 visitors during the last fiscal year. That is down from the pre-pandemic fiscal year 2019, when 293,817 people visited the museum. The Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe is the second most visited museum with 71,595, and Alamogordo’s New Mexico Museum of Space History comes in third with 69,472 visitors.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center was No. 7 on the list compared to being the second most visited museum in fiscal year 2019. In fiscal year 2022, it had 36,433 visitors. The NHCC, like some other state-run entities, has seen a change in its leadership during that time.

“It is our hope that every New Mexican will find an opportunity to visit our museums and historic sites – for inspiration, for recreation, and for learning,” said Garcia y Griego.

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