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(New York, February 17, 2004) – National, regional, and foreign tourists visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art's acclaimed fall 2003 exhibition, El Greco, spent a combined $345 million during their visits to New York City, according to a Museum audience survey released today. Using the standard ratios for calculating tax revenue impact, the direct tax benefit to New York City and New York State from visitors who said that seeing the exhibition was important to their decision to visit the City is estimated at $14.5 million.

The landmark exhibition, which was on view at the Metropolitan Museum from October 7, 2003 to January 11, 2004, attracted 574,000 visitors, making it one of the Metropolitan's best-attended shows in recent years. Nearly three-quarters of these visitors were found to have traveled to New York from outside the City's five boroughs – 23% from the Metropolitan area outside New York City, 33% from the rest of the United States, and 17% from foreign countries – and spent a total of $345 million in the City on lodging, food, and related expenses during their stays. The economic development impact on the City does not directly benefit the Museum itself, which maintains a policy of not imposing extra admission fees on visitors to special exhibitions. Exhibitions are free with Museum admission.

David E. McKinney, President of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, noted: "This survey makes the case strongly once again that the Metropolitan Museum is a major generator of revenue for the city. Tourists and New Yorkers alike continue to recognize that the Metropolitan is an essential international destination for culture, with its full roster of extraordinary special exhibitions, collections, lectures, and programs."

The survey of El Greco is the most recent of a series of audience studies undertaken regularly by the Metropolitan to measure the economic impact of special exhibitions. The findings from the current survey differed somewhat from trends that have been observed in previous studies, indicating a slight increase in foreign tourism. The percentage of foreign visitors was 17%, up from 14% in spring 2003.

In a 1997 audience assessment conducted by the Metropolitan in conjunction with The Glory of Byzantium, it was estimated that tourists visiting the exhibition spent approximately $184 million during their New York stay. In 1999-2000, visitors to Egyptian Art in the Age of the Pyramids were found to have generated an economic impact of approximately $307 million in the City. The Museum's studies of visitors to Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman and Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting in spring 2003 found the economic impact of tourists to be approximately $220 million and $368 million, respectively. Taken together, the three 2003 exhibitions for which surveys were conducted, Leonardo da Vinci, Master Draftsman, Manet/Velázquez: The French Taste for Spanish Painting, and El Greco have had an economic impact of $933 million.

Some 42% of the out-of-town visitors surveyed in the new study specified that the exhibition El Greco was a deciding factor in their travel, and these visitors alone spent approximately $145 million.

Economic impact estimates for El Greco were drawn from an audience survey conducted by the Museum's Office of Research and Evaluation, under the leadership of Jeffrey K. Smith, Professor of Educational Statistics and Measurement and Chair of the Department of Educational Psychology, Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University. During October and November 2003, the survey team conducted and analyzed interviews with a sample of 1,076 randomly chosen visitors to the Museum. Interviewees were asked why they chose to visit New York and how much money they spent on lodging, food, and shopping while in the City. From this information, the impact these visitors had on the City's economy was assessed. The survey was spaced over several days of the week and times of day to be representative of the visiting population.

Visitors from outside the five boroughs of New York contribute to the City's economy by spending money on hotel rooms, travel, meals, shopping, and entertainment. Shopping (52%), dining (48%), and attending Broadway shows (36%) were the activities most frequently cited by visitors to El Greco as in their plans. The estimated average per person expenditure for all out-of-town visitors – including those from all parts of the United States as well as international travelers – was $540 for expenses, with an additional $274 for shopping. By projecting this figure for the duration of the show for all out-of-town visitors, the economic impact of this population was determined to be approximately $345 million.

Of the respondents residing outside the City, more than half (52%) reported that a visit to the Metropolitan Museum was an important reason in their decision to travel to New York. The total economic impact of this group alone is $179 million.

The exhibition was funded by the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in celebration of its 25th Anniversary.

The exhibition was organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the National Gallery, London.

An indemnity was granted by the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities.

The Metropolitan's presentation of El Greco was the first major retrospective in more than 20 years devoted to the great 16th-century painter. It constituted the exhibition's first venue and its only showing in the United States. The exhibition will be on view at the National Gallery, London, beginning in February 2004.


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