An Abundance of Southern History Museums: Room for and Revenue from Confederate Statues

The United States is full of tourist destinations and things to do in its cities and towns big and small, including thousands of museums, according to the Institute of Museum and Library Services list of all museums, aquariums, and zoos in the United State.

Museums are dispersed throughout the Midwest, Northeast, South, and West. States with over 1,000 are CA, TX, FL, MA, PA, NY, OH, MI and IL. The South has an advantage in the total number of locations with 10,023 despite only having two states over 1,000. This is mostly due to the South Atlantic states are a division of the region having 5,143 trailing only the East North Central by 141.

A Count of Museums in each region of the United States and color-coded to specific distinct areas.

Graph 1

Each region has a range of different museums with general museums and history museums taking up the majority. As look we at the type of museums more closely we that the South states truly do celebrate history with museums.

A Count of Museums in each region of the United States and color-coded to specific distinct museum types.

Graph 2

Historic Preservation Museums are by far the most abundant with 14,861 of them. When combing all history museums with historic preservation and natural history museums bundled as museums of history, we find the Midwest and South, leading the regions. The South, which includes all the former confederate states, really does cherish their museums of history as they have the second most Historic Preservation (3,9160, Midwest is first with 4,467) the most History (823) and the second most Natural History (91, West is first with 121).

A Count of Museums of History in each region of the United States and color-coded to specific distinct areas.

Graph 3

Despite a clear leading in pure numbers of locations, the South does not do as well they should in terms of reported revenue. On their other hand, the North East which has thousands of locations is seeing better revenue

Total revenue from museums of history for the South is 22.25B, which is way about the 6 and 3 billion for the West and Midwest respectively, but lower than the 32.29B of the Northeast. That disparity groups to 232.37B versus 118.66B when considering all museum types showing that South’s power to generate revenue is in the museums of history.

Museums of History reported revenue in each region of the United States and color-coded to specific distinct areas.

The south does well in terms of revenue because of its sheer size, but too many locations packed at the bottom and not enough high prefers leaves a lot of room for improvement in this industry.

In the year 2020 the news is filled with stories of those who want to remove statues of confederate offices and slave holders and the stories who believe that is removing history.

Looking at this data brings me to believe there is a way to do both and benefit all. Given a large number of available locations it seems like confederate statues, while are debatable in terms of historic value, could find a place where they are treated like history and not monuments to glorify. The gap in revenue could be made up if more visitors come to these locations to learn about history. The South could lead in both location count and revenue.

This increase in revenue could truly help the state pay for local improvements in schools and social services. The increased revenue could also help to make improvements at the museums to put them in a better place for long-term revenue growth as interests in visiting a museum to view confederates statues wanes over time.

Data Sources:

  1. https://www.kaggle.com/imls/museum-directory
  2. https://www.kaggle.com/omer2040/usa-states-to-region

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