Tuesday, December 17, 2013


You can say one thing about Te Papa (and over the years we’ve said many) it doesn't shy away from answering questions. In fact, on answering a recent set of questions about attendances, Te Papa asked if there were any other facts and figures we thought people should know. That's smart.

We're very interested in how many people visit our art institutions and Te Papa's annual report gives a lot of information. It turns out that there isn’t an official figure for the number of Te Papa visitors under 16. All Te Papa's non-paying attendance figures (including the total attendance figure of 1.312 million) are estimates derived from sampling. In the case of the under 16s, we live in a country (along with the rest of the developed world) where you can’t officially ask a six year old its age without parental approval. Not so smart.

Anyway, Te Papa estimates that 196,732 people under the age of 16 visit the building each year. So, by extrapolation, its total attendance of 1.31 million (3,593 on average every day of the year) is spread age-wise something like this: 196,732 (under 16), 245,260 (16-24), 189,519 (25-34), 189,519 (35-44), 195,093 (45-54), 156,075 (55-64) and 133,778 (over 65)

Incidentally the sampling is kept ‘real’ by “only counting when the doors are open to the public during regular opening hours” and reducing the count by 3.4 percent to allow for staff, people taking a break etc. Te Papa also mentioned that the proportion of tourists in the total visitor numbers (45 percent) was about the same as the Auckland Art Gallery.

Another thing that interested us was by was how well the ticketed exhibitions (aka pay shows) do and Te Papa obliged with the following:
Warhol immortal 48,844 (888 per day)
Game master 67,806 (509 per day)
It also provided sample estimates for non-ticketed exhibitions presented on the fifth 'art' floor:
Angels & Aristocrats 50,889 (519 per day)
On first looking into Chapman’s Homer 27,469 (915 per day)

So taking Angels & Aristocrats as a well-attended exhibition, we reckon by these numbers that Te Papa is claiming the total annual attendance on the fifth floor to be at around 190,000. If you're a regular visitor to the art section you may well wonder where they're hiding.