Museums, Zoos and Parks

Industry Profile Report

Dive Deep into the industry with a 25+ page industry report (pdf format) including the following chapters

Industry Overview Current Conditions, Industry Structure, How Firms Operate, Industry Trends, Credit Underwriting & Risks, and Industry Forecast.

Call Preparation Call Prep Questions, Industry Terms, and Weblinks.

Financial Insights Working Capital, Capital Financing, Business Valuation, and Financial Benchmarks.

Industry Profile Excerpts

Industry Overview

The 7,300 firms operating museums, zoos and parks in the US earn revenue from contributions, gifts, and grants (public and private sources); admission fees; investment income; and resale of merchandise. Museums preserve and exhibit objects of historical, cultural and/or educational value. Historical sites involve the preservation and exhibition of sites, buildings, forts, or communities that are related to events or persons of historical significance. Zoos exhibit animal life displays. Natural parks are natural areas designated for the enjoyment of the public.

Dependence on Donations

Museums, natural parks, zoos, and related organizations are highly dependent on contributions, gifts, and grants, which account for 35% of revenue.

High Value Exhibits

Many museums, zoos, and historical sites house valuable, sometimes irreplaceable, objects or animals.

Industry size & Structure

The average museum employs 19 workers and generates about $2.6 million annually. The average historical site employs 13 workers and generates about $1.2 million annually. The average zoo employs about 64 workers and generates about $7 million annually. The average natural park employs 14 workers and generates about $1.6 million annually.

    • The museum, natural park, and zoo industry consists of about 7,300 firms that employ about 128,200 workers and generate $17 billion annually.
    • The museum industry is fragmented; the top 50 companies account for about 45% of industry revenue. The historical site, zoo, and natural park industries are more concentrated, with the top 50 companies accounting for 60-66% of industry revenue.
    • Museums account for about 65% of industry revenue and 70% of firms. Zoos and botanical gardens account for 23% of revenue and 9% of firms. Historical sites account for 6% of revenue and 13% of firms. Natural parks account for 5% of revenue and 8% of firms.
    • Large organizations include the Smithsonian Institution, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Diego Zoo.
                                  Industry Forecast
                                  Museums, Zoos and Parks Industry Growth
                                  Source: Vertical IQ and Inforum

                                  Recent Developments

                                  Nov 5, 2022 - Travel Remains Strong Into Fall
                                  • Travel remains strong ahead of the holidays, according to executives at hotel chains, cruise-line operators, vacation-booking platforms, and other leisure companies. Museums, zoos, and parks are likely to benefit from the rebound in travel. Executives said in recent earnings reports that the desire to spend on experiences is overcoming concerns about inflation and the economy. Sustained travel spending levels come even as the US Federal Reserve seeks to tamp down inflation, which continues to be near its highest levels in four decades. The Fed raised rates by another 0.75 percentage point in early November, its fourth consecutive move of that magnitude, lifting the central bank’s benchmark federal-funds rate to a range between 3.75% and 4%. Booking Holdings, which operates,, and other aggregators, and Expedia Group both expect travel bookings to hold up into the beginning of 2023.
                                  • Inflation is blunting the impact of charitable giving, according to Giving USA. Consider a donor who gave $10,000 to their charity of choice in 2021. To have the same impact in 2022, that donor would have to give about $10,700. Donors are more likely to make that $10,000 gift again, however, which can blunt the impact they’re able to make on beneficiaries.
                                  • The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing by cryptocurrency exchange giant FTX has cast doubt on the future of so-called crypto philanthropy. FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried’s philanthropic fund has halted donations. Bankman-Fried had emerged as a leader of what has been dubbed the "effective altruism" movement, which sought to reshape philanthropy. Crypto philanthropy has exploded over the last two years. Fidelity Charitable received around $330 million in cryptocurrency in 2021 up from $28 million in 2020. The Giving Block, a cryptocurrency donation platform, reported $69 million in total donation volume last year, an impressive 1,558% spike from 2020. Major exchanges like Coinbase and Binance launched their own philanthropy initiatives. Most nonprofits don’t keep the crypto they receive: They convert it to traditional currency.
                                  • Columbus Zoo and Aquarium officials cited inflation as the key cause of the first rate hikes at the Ohio institution in almost five years. The price of admission will increase for as many as 60% of visitors due to increasing costs of animal feed, building products, fuel, and other items. The zoo also increased its minimum wage for employees $2 to $13 per hour.
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