New research from Art Fund finds that pupils are missing out on museum visits

Visitors at the Science and Industry Museum
Visitors at the Science and Industry Museum

New research reveals pupils’ socio-economic status and geographical location impact their access to museums and over a third of teachers say visits to museums are down post pandemic.

Pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds are not as likely to have visited a museum in the past year, finds new research from national charity Art Fund. The data, among over 1,000 children aged 6-15 years found only 52% of lower socio-economic status pupils have visited a museum in the past year, compared to 70% of those growing up with higher socio-economic status.

Nearly half of children (45%) with parents who are unemployed or not working have not visited a museum in the past year, revealed the research by YouGov for Art Fund. Visiting museums and galleries provides children with immersive and rich learning experiences that help spark their imagination, while allowing them to develop their critical thinking and better understand the world around them. Yet those from lower socio-economic backgrounds were not as likely to be taken to a museum by their school (34%) compared to their peers from higher socio-economic backgrounds (47%).

Regional disparity also contributes to inequity in museum access. Pupils from London (75%) are significantly more likely to have visited a museum in the past year compared to those living in the Midlands or Wales (57%) and Northern England or Scotland (60%).

This reflects research by Art Fund from Teacher Tapp among nearly 9,000 educators, which found a third (36%) of teachers across the country are taking pupils to museums less than before the pandemic. This increased to 40% of teachers in the Midlands and North West, compared to 31% in London.

Many pupils don’t have the opportunity to access museums and galleries. The YouGov research found 1 in 3 (35%) children say they hadn’t visited a museum in the past year. Teachers have the power to influence this, with the right support.

To help tackle this issue and better connect teachers and museums, Art Fund has launched the Teacher Art Pass. From £25 a year, the Teacher Art Pass offers all the benefits of Art Fund’s National Art Pass at a highly subsidised price for teachers – including free entry to over 250 museums, galleries and historic houses, up to 50% off exhibitions and guidance on what to visit.

By raising awareness and removing teachers’ barriers to accessing museums, the Teacher Art Pass can help spark creativity in the classroom and enrich teachers’ lives. In a pilot scheme with 1000 teachers, thanks to the generous support of the Clore Duffield Foundation, 85% reported finding the benefits of museum visiting useful to their teaching practice, in turn improving educational outcomes for pupils.

Jenny Waldman, Director of Art Fund, said:

'Our research has revealed real disparity in pupils’ access to museums across the country. Children’s ability to enjoy museums, galleries and historical places shouldn’t be determined by their socio-economic status or geographical location.

'At Art Fund we believe all young people should have the opportunity to build their cultural confidence, develop their creative capacity and reach their full potential. We want to support teachers, who play such a vital role in pupils’ lives, and we know that visiting museums can also help improve their own wellbeing.

'By connecting more teachers with museums and galleries, we can boost all children’s access to cultural experiences, inspiring teachers and their pupils and improving education outcomes for all.'

Bobby Seagull, maths teacher and broadcaster, who is supporting Art Fund’s initiative, said:

'I think it’s vital that pupils from all backgrounds and all corners of the UK get the chance to enrich their lives by visiting museums. It’s shocking to see the disparity between different parts of the country and different levels of advantage.

'I support Art Fund’s campaign to get more teachers visiting museums through the Teacher Art Pass and spreading the inspiration and joy that learning outside the classroom can provide.'

Adam Creen is the Head of Maths at a secondary school in Surrey. He said:

'I got my Teacher Art Pass around 4 months ago and have since visited a wide range of museums and galleries across the country. These trips have been a great reminder of the benefits of cultural spaces not just for my wellbeing, but also as a source of inspiration.

'As a maths teacher, museums and galleries may not sound like the first point of call when seeking creative input for lesson planning. However, I’ve found admiring art created using mathematical patterns such as Fibonacci, or discovering historical figures that have used the art of maths to create some of the world’s most ground-breaking inventions really beneficial. These works of art and objects help bring to life how maths is used in the real world helping to engage pupils in the value of mathematical skills.

'As teachers we face a range of challenges which can lead to our own wellbeing being side-lined. It’s vitally important we prioritise opportunities to recharge our energy in order to deliver our best work. I found the Teacher Art Pass really helped with this, allowing me to discover new places for free or a discounted rate.'

About the research

  • The research was conducted by YouGov for Art Fund during 18-24 August 2023 with a nationally representative sample of 1,010 children aged 6-15 years.

  • Research among 8,943 teachers was undertaken by Teacher Tapp for Art Fund in August 2023.

  • Art Fund’s 2018 report Calm and Collected suggested that museums and galleries are a significant untapped resource at our disposal that can help us achieve a greater sense of wellbeing when we take time out for ourselves. 63% of 2,521 UK adults surveyed for the report said they have at some point visited museums specifically to ‘de-stress’.

About Teacher Art Pass

  • Teacher Art Pass forms part of Art Fund’s commitment to helping museums connect with teachers, schools and young people. This annual membership offers all the benefits of a National Art Pass (normally £75) from just £25 – a highly subsidised price for teachers across the UK.

  • Teacher Art Pass benefits include free or reduced-price entry to 250+ museums, galleries and historic houses across the UK and 50% off major exhibitions. Teachers will also be kept informed of what they can go and see with a subscription to the 'Art in your inbox' newsletter, Art Quarterly magazine, and a guidebook of all the places the pass can be used across the UK.

  • Teacher Art Pass is generously supported by the 29th May 1961 Charity, John S Cohen Foundation and a consortium of individual donors. To find out more about supporting the Teacher Art Pass, please contact

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