Open Now: the 2020 National Visitation Survey

By John Marks, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives, AASLH

AASLH is calling on all history organizations to complete the 2020 National Visitation Survey. The questionnaire should only take about five minutes to complete. You can access it here. Your response is critical for helping the history community better understand national and regional trends.

Last year, more than 1,250 institutions responded, allowing us to provide a comprehensive assessment of visitation at history organizations around the country. Our analysis revealed that visits to historic sites, museums, and other history institutions rose nearly 6 percent between 2013 and 2018, with the strongest gains occurring at small history organizations. The data helped us identify other trends as well, like how paid-entry institutions fared better than those with free entry, and that visitation rose at museums and historic sites but declined at historical societies and libraries. You can read about our findings in greater detail in the 2019 National Visitation Report.

Last year’s report raised many new questions as well, and your response to the 2020 survey can help us answer them. For example, the 2019 report identified a small decline in visitation from 2017 to 2018; this year’s data will be essential for understanding whether that dip represents the beginning of a new downward trend. In addition, a larger number of survey responses will enable AASLH to dig deeper, offering more finely-grained analysis of trends at every budget level and every institution type. Such analysis will allow us to speak with more confidence about the differences between small historical societies and large ones, for example, or between historic sites in New England and those in the West. More responses will help AASLH produce a report that will be more detailed and more useful for history professionals.

By taking five minutes to complete the survey, you’re helping advance the work of the history community. Better data on national trends will help all history institutions as we advance advocacy, fundraising, strategic planning, and other work critical to the health of the field.

Please complete the National Visitation Survey and share it with your colleagues! The survey will close later this winter.