City museum’s attendance up 20 percent last year

HARLINGEN — Arts, culture and museums appear to be on the rise in the city.

Board members of the Harlingen Arts and Heritage Museum received the numbers yesterday, and they indeed are good.

Attendance at the city museum rose 20 percent in 2019, which amounts to just over 3,000 people.

“To be able to increase attendance to that extent without significant budgetary increases is a real testament to the work that our volunteers and staff are doing,” Joel Humphries, director of arts and entertainment for the city, said after the meeting.

Humphries says the museum’s exhibits remain popular with Winter Texans and other groups in the community, but he said a new group of museum-goers who visit a couple times a week has added significantly to the attendance figures.

“We’ve always had a relationship with Southwest Keys,” he said of the local shelter for undocumented immigrant children. “But certain recent current events have increased their numbers a great deal. I’m extremely pleased that they have selected this place and this organization to come to and frequent.”

The museum also has made a big effort to offer more children’s events and exhibits, he said.

“We’ve implemented children’s programming at Christmas time, children’s programming in the summer and this year we’re going to do something for Spring Break,” Humphries said. “It all helps, and it all kind of works together.

“Not only do we get the folks that are patrons now but by doing the programming for the young people you’re building an audience for your future, too,” he added.

Museum attendance

2017 — 15,204

2018 — 18,215