By Lawrence Belanger
Local Journalism Initiative
On Dec 14, the Institut de la statistique du Québec (ISQ) released a report indicating that museum attendance in 2021 had not rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, citing the continued pandemic restrictions for part of the year. According to the report, in 2021, 6.8 million people visited a museum in the province, up 72 per cent from the 3.9 million admissions in 2020. However, the 2021 statistics are still far from the 2015-2019 yearly average of 15.2 million admissions. The report cited “total and partial closures in Quebec’s regions,” travel restrictions, and limitations on the capacity of institutions, as contributing to the limited resumption of normal activities.
Despite this province-wide decline in attendance, Sherbrooke’s two large museums, the Musée de Beaux-arts (MBAS), and the Musée des natures sciences (MNS2) both reported faring better, either experiencing less pronounced declines or even rebounding.
Statistics from Michelle Bélanger, the Executive director and Curator of the Musée de la nature et des sciences de Sherbrooke, indicate the museum’s attendance compared to pre-COVID declined only 39 per cent in 2021, better than the provincial average of 55 per cent. According to the report, science museums in general experienced a less pronounced decline, while art museums were the institutions with the largest gap.