MFA: An Illustrated History
“A Great Diminution in the Number of Admissions”
For most of the 1890s, museum attendance was comfortably above 250,000 visitors each year, but not in 1896. That year, attendance dipped below 195,000, the lowest total of the decade. So to what momentous societal shift did the Trustees ascribe the huge dip in visitation? Bicycling!
“(Lower attendance) may be accounted for in part…by the prevalence of bicycle riding, attracting to the out-door recreation many persons who would otherwise have spent some leisure hours at the Museum.” MFA Annual Report,1896.
Fortunately, the craze seems to have calmed by 1897, as attendance rebounded to 228,000 admissions. — at Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.