The value museums, art galleries and heritage properties contribute in Aotearoa New Zealand

This 2018 report analysing data from New Zealand museums and their visitors shows that cultural institutions are making an active contribution to cultural well-being, social cohesion and the economy, in addition to their vital role as kaitiaki of knowledge and taonga. 

Museums Aotearoa commissioned the report which brings together academic research and data collected across our museum, gallery and heritage sector 

This report builds on the Visitor research and Museum Sector Survey outlined below.

PDF icon download media release (0.3MB)

PDF icon download full report (2MB pdf)

Museum Visitor Research

Information about visitors is essential for museums and galleries - for planning, programming and reporting.

Museums Aotearoa and Victoria University of Wellington have worked together with sector colleagues to establish a national framework to provide the museum sector in New Zealand with better information about its visitors at both an individual museum and a sector-wide level. The project began in 2009 with a web survey to gauge the level of interest and current visitor research activities across the country. Just over 80% of museums and galleries responding to this survey positively supported the idea of having a framework and more than 70% were positive about the idea of using a core visitor survey to collect data from their visitors.

With this vital support and feedback, a visitor survey was drafted and a pilot study run in early 2010. The main challenges were to make it as flexible as possible so it could be used by a wide range of museums, while ensuring that the information gathered would be consistent and reliable. Museums in the pilot group told us they were happy with the survey and glad they had participated. Lee Davidson and the VUW team gave a presentation on the pilot study at the MA10 conference.

In early 2011, over 30 museums participated in the first national survey developed from the pilot. Data from these museums was analysed and reported back to participants.

In August 2011, VUW hosted invited representatives of government, universities and the museum sector for a symposium to consider issues of museum value and visitor studies, and explore the potential for further collaborative research projects. We have used this experience and continued developing the survey since to ensure that it meets the needs of the sector, while keeping it as simple and useful as possible for participants.

The 2013 survey was used by 36 museums of varying kinds, interviewing visitors over a prescribed period. This methodology has been followed each year since, giving a comprehensive database which now includes over 30,000 individual surveys from around 100 museums, galleries and heritage properties.

2020 National Visitor Survey

The 2020 survey period is 17 February to 29 March. For information on how to take part please contact the Survey Coordinator

Previous survey results

The aggregated results of the 2018 National Visitor Survey can be downloaded in this poster: PDF icon 2018_ma_nvs_infographic_web.pdf (243KB pdf)

Infographic posters have been made of the national summary results for several years. 

Download the 2016 NVS poster: PDF icon nvs_16_infographic.pdf (4.2MB pdf)

Download the 2017 NVS poster: PDF icon 2017_ma_nvs_a3_final.pdf


Museum Sector Remuneration Survey

In 2010 Museums Aotearoa and Strategic Pay launched the first museum sector remuneration survey. The objective is to provide a credible, reliable and consistent methodology for analysing rates of employee remuneration within public museums and galleries throughout New Zealand, based on job size and job function comparisons.

The survey has been repeated annually and the latest report was released in August 2016. This draws on detailed remuneration data for over 3,500 employees in 64 organisations, providing information on 31 benchmark job roles. In addition, the report includes analysis and trends of employment policies and practices. Museums and galleries can purchase the Museum Sector Remuneration Survey report by contacting Strategic Pay, tel 09 303 4045 or email

Summary information about the 2019 survey has been made available for Museums Aotearoa members

Museums Aotearoa Sector Survey

The 2017 Museum Sector Survey is now closed. This is an institutional survey, collecting data about our sector for aggregation and preparation of advocacy material. Invitations were sent to directors/managers of all museums and galleries. A report is in preparation. For more information please email us.

In 2014 we updated the 2012 sector survey project. Taking on board feedback from participants and users of the information, we reviewed and revised the questionnaire. The 2014 survey is more comprehensive than the earlier version, aiming to provide more robust and useful information for participants and for sector advocacy. The survey data analysis is now available in the following report. Thanks to Ministry for Culture & Heritage and Victoria University of Wellington for their help in the survey analysis.

 Download 2014 Museum Sector Survey report (963KB pdf)

Museum Sector Survey 2012
In 2012 Museums Aotearoa undertook a comprehensive sector survey project. This followed on from the sector symposium in August 2011, and built on our previous barometer surveys. The survey was conducted by Lisa McCauley and supported by the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. This research is now available for download:

 2012 Museum Sector Survey Report (pdf 1.2 MB)
 Executive Summary (pdf 122 KB)

Museum Barometer Surveys 2007-2009
Three museum sector 'barometer' surveys were completed 2007-2009. This annual cycle built up data on trends over time, as well as providing the opportunity for more in-depth research in selected areas. The research aimed to improve understanding of the New Zealand museum sector, providing valuable information to grow support for, and recognition of, the sector. Museums Aotearoa appreciates the support of partners National Services Te Paerangi and Local Government NZ, the expertise of the NZ Tourism Research Institute, and the essential contribution of all those who provided information.

Web Survey report March 2009
Thank you to all the museum organisations who participated in the third annual barometer survey in February 2009 gathering valuable information for the museum and gallery sector.
This year the focus was on collections held by museum organisations around the country.

Download the Museums Aotearoa NZTRI Survey Report 2009:

 Museums Aotearoa NZTRI 2009 Report (pdf)

Web Survey report March 2008
Following the pilot survey in February 2007, museum organisations were invited to participate in a second baromoter survey in December 2007, with a special focus on staff and volunteers. Thank you to all those Museums and Galleries who participated at a busy time of year. A full report was presented at the Museums Aotearoa conference in April 2008.

Download the March 2008 Executive Summary or Consolidated Full Survey Report:

March 2008 Executive Summary (pdf)
2008 Full Survey Report (pdf)

Web Survey pilot report March 2007
The results of the February 2007 pilot survey were reported at the AGM on the 16 March 2007. The good response from a wide range of museum organisations showed positive support for an ongoing museum sector survey. In July 2007 the initial report was augmented with further analysis by 'size' of institution.

Download the July 07 Executive Summary or the Full Survey Report:

July 2007 Executive Summary (pdf 61KB)
 2007 Full Survey Report (pdf 400KB)

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Careers and Skills for the museum sector

Museums Aotearoa works with Industry Training Organisation ServiceIQ and with National Services Te Paerangi to support workplace-based training in the museum sector. Service IQ is a merger of the formed ATTTO and two other organisations. ATTTO commissioned research into skills shortages, training needs and career pathways in the museum and wider tourism areas.

In 2008-09 the Career Maps and Paths project investigated career pathways and linkages between job roles in museums, tourism, travel and hospitality. Further information can be found on the ServiceIQ website here.

Background research to develop a skills strategy for the museum sector was undertaken by NZTRI and Projects International on behalf of ATTTO in early 2009. The summary of findings can be downloaded below:

2009 Skills Report Museum Sector (pdf)

In 2010 this research was used as the basis for a Strategic Training Plan for the museum sector, which can be downloaded below:

2010 Strategic Training Plan - Museum Sector (pdf)