The amount of visits to a museum in Moray has come under scrutiny after it emerged phone calls and e-mails have been included in totals.
Figures showing the number of people using the Falconer Museum in Forres were presented yesterday.
Councillors were told the number of visitors fell from 66,000 in 2014/15 to less than 51,000 for 2015/16.
But the method of gathering the data came under fire when it was revealed the totals also included visits by staff to schools, letters and website hits.
Moray Council convener Allan Wright was eager to find out the number of people who actually walked through the doors to see the exhibits in Forres.
He said: “School visits are included in the total number of visits, which presumably involved somebody turning up to a school with an exhibit.
“I would be interested to have a figure telling me exactly how many people go over the threshold and walk into the museum.”
Audit and scrutiny committee chairman Gordon McDonald said: “There has been a similar situation with libraries where just
pressing a button online counted as a visit.”
In a report, officer Louise Marshall explained that inquiries where people learn about the collections, through methods including in person, letter, phone, e-mail or internet, were included in the total.
She added that the drop-off in visit numbers could be put down to a reduction in opening hours.
Spending on the museum fell by £22,000 to £123,000 from last year but the total cost the council is spending per “visit” rose by 25p to £2.42.
Authority staff at the meeting agreed to put together a new report showing how many people walked through the doors to browse the collections at the Falconer Museum.
Elgin City North councillor Patsy Gowans believes there is potential of building further education ties to make the galleries more cost-effective.
She said: “Linking in with the curriculum for excellence is an area where the museum can work positively, especially during the winter months. It could also bring in some extra income as well.”