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 and an additional $4.7 million 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 matured from its original place as a local children’s museum to now, a regional venue for education, culture, arts and entertainment for people of all ages. It is ranked as one of the state’s top museums.
Offering a one-of-a-kind window on the region’s natural environment and cultural history, the 52-acre museum expects approximately 145,000 visitors this year.
While school groups and summer campers are a common sight, the typical museum 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 stroll the Museum’s elevated boardwalks and 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 ranges 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.
Photo Credit: Erin Bender