Nesta create a map that plots the wide variety of museums across the UK
A new interactive map from Nesta plots the location of over 1300 accredited museums in England for the first time. More than half of the population (55 percent) live within walking distance of at least one.
Innovation foundation Nesta created the map using accredited museums data from Arts Council England2 to understand levels of accessibility across the country. They found that some areas benefit from much higher levels of access than others for reasons that include historical significance and population density.
On a local authority level, eight of the top ten areas with the most museums per head are outside of the South East. While the City of London scores the top spot due to its large number of museums and, comparatively, small population, it is followed by the Isles of Scilly and Ryedale in second and third place. The former has the museum with the densest, albeit smallest, surrounding population.
From Devon’s Castle Drogo to the Pen Museum in Birmingham
Some of the more novel museums mapped across England include Devon’s 1930s Castle Drogo designed by Edwin Lutyens, the London home of the man behind the first English dictionary Dr Johnson and the Pen Museum in Birmingham that pays homage to the history of writing.
In areas considered to be more deprived, the proportion of people within walking distance of a museum rises to 70 percent.3 This is explained by a high proportion of England’s deprived areas being found near urban centres, generally densely populated, which have more of these institutions.
Interactive map plots museum locations
While the interactive map plots museum location there is no consistent data available to reflect visitor numbers. This information would help policymakers identify public awareness of local museums and, in turn, museums to reach new audiences.
John Davies, research fellow at Nesta, comments: “Museums hold our collective memory and our map shows that a large proportion of England’s population live within close reach of at least one. With those easily able to access a museum, but who do not attend, the question for the sector is how to break down barriers to access and engage untapped audiences.”
Matt Hancock, Minister for Digital and Culture, said: “Through their unique collections, expertise and special place in local communities, museums make a vital contribution to the nation’s cultural life. This online map highlights the huge variety we have in this country. One aim of our ongoing Museums Review is to ensure that we encourage a more diverse audience to visit museums. I hope the map will encourage more people to go and explore the fantastic museums and galleries on their doorsteps.”
The launch of the tool coincides with the Department for Culture Media and Sports’ Museums Review which is looking at what government can do to help museums across England thrive and become even more inclusive.
The interactive Museums Map is available to view at http://data-viz.nesta.org.uk/museumsmap.