Economic impact of Tallahassee Museum and its Market Days festival estimated at $11.7 million

TALLAHASSEE, FL (March 30, 2016) – State government may be top dog in Florida’s capital city, but purring away in the city’s southwest corner, the Tallahassee Museum is an economic engine with more than $11.7 million in annual impact, according to estimates in a recent study by Downs & St. Germain Research.

Annual economic impact estimates are more than $7 million for the Museum itself, with an additional $4.7 million coming from its annual Market Days arts and crafts festival, held each December at the North Florida Fairgrounds.

“In its nearly 60-year history, the Tallahassee Museum has really matured from its original place in the community as a local children’s museum to a regional venue for education, culture, arts and entertainment for people of all ages,” said Michael Carter, chair of the Museum’s board. “We are proud to be ranked as one of the state’s top museums, and now we can really demonstrate our significant role in the local economy.”

Offering a one-of-a-kind window on the region’s natural environment and cultural history, the 52-acre Tallahassee Museum expects approximately 145,000 visitors to take a walk on the capital’s wild side this year.

Museum visitors, a third of whom come from outside Leon County, spend $4.5 million a year at the Museum and at local eateries, hotels, grocery stores and shopping and entertainment venues, as well as on gas and other transportation services. When Market Days is included, the study found, nearly 140,000 visitors account for $7.5 million a year in direct spending.

Total economic impact estimates are based on multipliers that account for indirect spending resulting from related business-to-business activity. The Museum’s economic impact is even greater when including the over $600,000 it receives in grants, donations and revenues generated through its on-grounds events like Halloween Howl and Zoobilee.
While school groups and summer campers are a common sight at the Tallahassee Museum, the typical visitor is 51, married (74 percent) and has at least a college degree (65 percent) and an annual income of $68,750, the study found.

“What this economic impact study really shows is that the Tallahassee Museum is a destination for some of the region’s prime consumers,” said Russell Daws, the Museum’s president and CEO, who is also past president of the Florida Association of Museums and past chair of the Leon County Tourist Development Council. “Our corporate sponsors realize that, and they and our longtime donors and friends have been key to helping us grow.”

On any given day, visitors can stroll the Museum’s elevated boardwalks to watch Florida panthers, wolves, white-tailed deer, bears, foxes, alligators and other Southern species in a natural habitat, or visit the Museum’s 1880s replica Big Bend-area farm, where they can participate in hands-on demonstrations of quilting, gardening, spinning, blacksmithing and cooking.

Educational and entertaining programming for adults continues to expand as well, with options ranging from Night Prowl Tours to introductory courses on blacksmithing, canning tomatoes, and building a rain garden. Music festivals and seasonal events fill the mostly outdoor museum with crowds of up to 5,000 people a day. Among the most popular happenings are the Tallahassee Jazz and Blues Festival, Pioneer Breakfast, Tallahassee Songwriters Festival, and Halloween Howl, which is geared for children as well as adults.

The combination of daytime and nighttime programming has helped the museum grow attendance by 40 percent since 2014.

And while the Tallahassee Museum’s economic output is impressive, it works to remain accessible, donating more than $65,000 in free access to help those who cannot afford museum admission or program fees and hosts free admission days during the year. It also has offered free admission to all active military personnel and their families for the past several summers.

About the Tallahassee Museum

Set amid 52 acres of breathtaking Florida flora and fauna, the Tallahassee Museum offers the opportunity to explore North Florida’s natural surroundings in a beautiful lakeside setting. Visitors can tour historic buildings, experience nature up to 62 feet in the air on the Tallahassee Tree to Tree Adventures course, participate in weekly hands-on educational workshops, and learn about the region’s natural environment, rich history and diverse cultural communities. The Museum’s living exhibits include native Florida wildlife, nature trails, native gardens, and an environmental science center. The Museum is also an entertainment venue, hosting music festivals and special events throughout the year.