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During the late-twentieth century there was a significant increase in the number of museums in the UK. Apart from the polemic heritage debates of the 1980s and 1990s, the boom in museums was not much investigated. Our project “Mapping Museums” collected and analysed data on over 4000 UK museums that were open in the period from 1960 to 2019. Here we present our findings. We show that the number of museums increased from around 1000 to a highpoint of 3360 in 2016, that the sector continuously expanded for 55 years, but that the rate of growth and closure varied depending on the museums’ size, governance, subject matter, and location. Small and medium museums proliferated, as did independent museums; growth in the South of England far out-paced that in the North; local history museums multiplied and new subjects came on stream. The museum boom re-shaped the sector.


This is an Accepted Manuscript version of the following article, accepted for publication in Cultural Trends:

Fiona Candlin, Andrea Ballatore, Jamie Larkin, Mark Liebenrood, Alexandra Poulovassilis & Valeri Katerinchuk (2023) The UK museum boom: continuity and change 1960–2019, Cultural Trends,

It is deposited under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Taylor & Francis

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License

Available for download on Monday, January 06, 2025