This comprehensive research project was undertaken on behalf of Museums Galleries Scotland (formerly Scottish Museums Council) to inform the Scottish Executive’s Cultural Commission’s report ‘Our Next Major Enterprise’ which was published in June 2005.
Museums and Galleries in Scotland are a central part of the nation’s tourism product as visitor attractions and in interpreting the nation’s cultural history and built heritage landscape. They lie at the heart of tourism in that they are central images that define not only the landscape but also establish Scotland’s unique identity. Indeed, they play a vital role in developing Scotland as a ‘must visit’ destination for visitors and tourists.
The iconic representation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh through architecture and museums and Robert Burns through built heritage are critical in marketing Scotland. There are a range of niche markets that depend on museum involvement such as ancestral and event tourism.
Almost 10 million people in America claim Scottish heritage, making them the eighth largest ethnic group in the USA. The internationalisation of Scottish culture is reflected in a worldwide interest in the achievements and events that celebrate the life and work of cultural ambassadors like Robert Burns, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Scott of the Antarctic.
Defining museums as visitor attractions places emphasis on their business context and the quality of visitor experience.
The report Realising the True Impact of Museums and Galleries in Scottish Tourism examined more thoroughly the contribution museums and galleries make to tourism and the cultural infrastructure of Scotland. Quantitative data used in was drawn primarily from information gathered for the 2003 Visitor Attraction Monitor (VAM) commissioned and prepared for VisitScotland.
The impact study also tackled in some detail a critique of the definition of cultural heritage as well as identified the iconic significance of museums.
This study was subsequently updated with 2007 and 2008 data.