Informations and abstract
Keywords: Cultural Economics; Museum Economics; Visitor Studies.
Museum statistics is by no way a simple matter. EGMUS, the dedicated European Statistical Group, is up to now unable to publish the total number of museums operating in its 27 member States, since definitions vary greatly from one country to another. For 2011, Germany records 6.304 museums, France 1.031, Spain 1.479, the United Kingdom 1.732. Italy, that for a very long time has been reporting only 435 State institutes, is now able to record 4,588 museums, archaeological sites and monuments. This achievement is due to a census survey carried out in 2012 by ISTAT - the Italian National Statistical Institute - the Ministry for Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, the Italian Regions and Autonomous Provinces. This complex and varied system of institutions, greatly different in their typology, collections, dimensions, ownership, legal status, management and relationship with the public, mostly made of small and very small sized structures, operated by very limited staff, was visited in 2011 by about 104 million people. Landmarks and keepers of the history and civilizations of the country, museums and similar institutions are strongholds of culture intended in its broadest sense. In addition to their fundamental functions of conservation, research and exhibition, they also educate and disseminate, foster debate, performing and visual arts creation, i.e. they add vitality and cultural contents to the local communities. The article discusses Italian museums starting from the recently published data, and describes their geography, their institutional characteristics, their activities and organization, their public, their relationship with tourism, and the complex governance of their system as a whole.