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The Smithsonian reports 30 million “visits” for 2013. How does that equate to unique individual visitors?

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Once again Smithsonian releases their year-end statistics, as they have since 2001.

Since the Smithsonian museums are free, visit counts are not based on tickets sold. Smithsonian guards use hand clickers to count the number of persons entering each museum. If a person visits more than one museum they will be count more than once. Therefore, the numbers shown below are considered “visits” and not individual visitors.

Smithsonian Museums Attendance 2013

The question regarding “unique individual visitors” takes me the following study:, Visitors to the Smithsonian Institution Some Observations by Zahava D. Doering and Andrew J. Pekarik Instutional Studies Office Smithsonian Institution.

smithsonian logoDuring the year of the study, the Smithsonian recorded 26 million visits and the number of unique individual visitors was estimated to be between nine to ten million individuals.

The following abstracts are some of the key “Observations” used to derive that calculation.

  • Visitors who came to the Smithsonian from outside the local area are likely to attend several museums on the Mall during their stay in Washington and many who live in the local area will return on or more times within the same year (Doering and Bickford, 1994);
  • Overall, approximately 79 percent of Smithsonian audiences consist of people who are visiting Washington from elsewhere and 60 percent are coming for the first time

The full report can be found here.

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