Magazine

How much does it cost to run Boston’s cultural institutions? A comparison.

From the aquarium to the MFA and Zoo New England, a look at operating budgets, annual visitors, and more

They raise a lot. They spend a lot. And we visit a lot. Inside the numbers at our cultural landmarks.

Zoo New England

Brian Skerry

Middlesex Fells Zoo opened in 1905; Franklin Park Zoo opened in 1912.

Annual operating budget $13 million (fiscal 2014)

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Annual visitors 652,655 (Franklin Park Zoo 418,167; Stone Zoo 234,488)

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Most recent capital campaign $6.6 million for Nature’s Neighborhoods (opening 2016)

New England Aquarium

Tapping the same bequest it used to start the zoo, the City of Boston opened an aquarium in 1912. Neglected, nearly empty, and on the verge of collapse, it was closed in 1954. Today’s unrelated aquarium opened in 1969.

Operating budget $42.6 million

Annual visitors 1.37 million

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Most recent capital campaign $42.5 million Mission Blue campaign, including $17.8 million to renovate Giant Ocean Tank; campaign closed in 2013

Museum of Science

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff
Museum of Science.

Founded in 1830 as the Boston Society of Natural History; it became the New England Museum of Natural History in 1864 and was renamed Museum of Science in 1939. It moved to its current home in 1951.

Annual operating budget $59 million

Annual visitors 1.4 million

Most recent capital campaign Closed its first-ever campaign on June 30, raising $284 million toward Gordon Wing (renovated and opened 2007), new Hall of Human Life (opened 2013), and Yawkey Gallery on the Charles River (opening 2016).

Museum of Fine Arts

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Opened in 1876; moved to its current location in 1909

Annual operating budget $101.7 million

Annual visitors/visits 1.2 million/4.9 million

Most recent capital campaign $504 million: $345 million for new Art of the Americas Wing, as well as contributing to MFA’s endowment and annual operating support; campaign closed 2008

Current capital campaign $200 million; three-year campaign closes 2016

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Founded 1903

Annual operating budget $16 million

Annual visitors 225,000

Most recent capital campaign $180 million ($114 million for new building); campaign closed in 2014

The Institute of Contemporary Art

Founded in 1936 as Boston MoMA, dubbed the ICA in 1948, opened current building in 2006

Annual operating budget $11.6 million

Annual visitors 200,000

Notable capital campaign $41 million to construct the current building

Most recent capital campaign $50 million, closed in 2014

Boston Children’s Museum

Founded in 1913 and moved to current locale in 1979

Annual operating expenses $9.2 million (fiscal 2013)

Annual visitors 531,300

Most recent capital campaign $47 million expansion and renovation (2007)

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Founded 1881

Annual operating budget $84.3 million

Annual concertgoers 948,600

Most recent capital campaign $250 million to $400 million