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Remai Modern visitation more than doubles after first year of admission by donation

For immediate release — Friday, October 27, 2023

SASKATOON, CANADA — In the first full year following the launch of admission by donation at Remai Modern, the museum is reporting a 117% increase in visitors over the previous year.

“As the cost-of-living increases and families are forced to reduce spending, we feel fortunate to offer admission by donation to all visitors. The statistics from this year are heartening but we are even more moved by seeing the museum filled with people of all ages and backgrounds, many of them coming for the first time,” said Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh, Co-Executive Director & CEOs. “The community support has been incredible and we are so grateful to the people of Saskatoon for embracing Remai Modern.”

The museum launched admission by donation on October 22, 2022. Based on the numbers from the first nine months of the 2023, Remai Modern is also on track to have its best visitation year since 2018. Visitation captures the many different ways people interact with Remai Modern, as gallery visitors, restaurant patrons, attendees at private events and more.

During the comparable period from October 22, 2021 to October 21, 2022, the museum was still building its audience back up as a result of the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. But statistics from the past year show the museum is also exceeding its pre-pandemic visitors by nearly 20 per cent (compared to October 22, 2018 to October 21, 2019). This signals an important recovery for the organization.

In addition to overall visitation, the museum has seen a 65% increase in the number of people of all ages attending Learning & Engagement programs, which include weekend artmaking, talks, workshops and more.

Remai Modern launched by-donation admission in 2022 thanks to the support of the Frank and Ellen Remai Modern Foundation, which pledged $10 million to ensure the museum could offer by-donation admission for 20 years.

Though the foundation’s commitment creates long-term financial sustainability for by-donation admission, the museum continues to rely on other forms of support to provide art programs to everyone in the community. Visitors have shown extraordinary generosity through admission by donation, contributing a combined 79.1 per cent more from October 22, 2022 to October 21, 2023 than the total amount the museum made the year prior through its old admission structure.

The museum is also excited to report the positive impacts of another change that coincided with the announcement of admission by donation model. In October 2022, Remai Modern began its partnership with Hearth restaurant as food and beverage provider for all third-party events. Remai Modern staff took over all event bookings from the previous catering partner in April 2022. Hearth, a local restaurant team, took over catering for the museum in the fall of 2022. Since then, the number of people who have visited the building as part of a conference, wedding or other event has increased by 233%.

“While art will always be the central pillar of Remai Modern’s activities, we are delighted so many people are learning about the museum through events being hosted in our spaces,” said Burns and Lundh. “It’s a great opportunity for us to introduce people to the museum and give them reasons to return to see the art and to take part in our programs.”

Admission by donation enables every visitor to pay what they wish. Donations support art programs for everyone in the community, including those who can’t visit the museum in person, ensuring all have access to the positive impacts of art.

About Remai Modern

Remai Modern is situated on Treaty 6 Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. We pay our respects to First Nations and Métis ancestors and reaffirm our relationship with one another.

Remai Modern is a new museum of modern and contemporary art in Saskatoon. The museum presents and collects local and international modern and contemporary art that connects, inspires and challenges diverse audiences through equitable and accessible programs.

Open since October 2017, Remai Modern is the largest contemporary art museum in western Canada and houses a collection of more than 8,000 works, including the world’s foremost collection of Picasso linocut prints.

Remai Modern would like to acknowledge the contributions of the Frank & Ellen Remai Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, SaskCulture through the Sask Lotteries Fund, SK Arts and the City of Saskatoon.

For additional information contact:
Stephanie McKay, Communications Manager