Funerary mask on display at the British Museum's Beyond El Dorado: Power and Gold in Ancient Colombia exhibition (October 2013 - March 2014). Copyright Museo del Oro, Banco de la Republica, Colombia.

Boost in English museum visits

Rebecca Atkinson, 07.04.2014
British Museum now world's second most visited cultural attraction
More than 4 million visits were made to museums and galleries funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in February, up 5% from the previous year, according to official monthly statistics published last week.

Most of the museums and galleries experienced a year-on-year rise in visitors, with some expected exceptions such as Tate St Ives and the Imperial War Museum London, which were both closed in February for redevelopments. 

Others, such as the National Media Museum in Bradford and the National Railway Museum in York, both part of the Science Museum Group, saw slight falls in February compared to the same month in 2013. In London, the British Museum and the Sir John Soane’s Museum also had a slight reduction in visitors in February compared to the previous year.

The figures follow the latest DCMS Taking Part survey, which shows that between January and December last year more than 50% of adults visited a museum or gallery – the highest figure since the survey began in 2005/06.

Although attendance rates increased in every English region, it was highest in London (59.6%) and lowest in the West Midlands (47.2%).

Figures compiled by The Art Newspaper also show that the British Museum has now overtaken the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York as the second most visited museum in the world after the Louvre in Paris.

The paper reports the London museum had 6.7 million visitors in 2013, compared to the Louvre’s 9.3 million and the Met’s 6.2 million.


The article was amended to make it clear that the National Media Museum and the National Railway Museum in York saw slight falls in February compared to the same month in 2013, not across the whole year as previously implied.


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Tim Neal
Visitor Insight Executive, Science Museum Group
09.04.2014, 15:33
I'm not sure which 12 months you are referring to in the third paragraph, but the National Railway Museum is substantially up on both 2012 calendar year and 2012/13 financial year due to the massively successful A4 engines reunion. (Or are you just comparing Feb 14 with Feb 13?)
Rebecca Atkinson
MA Member
Online Publications Editor, Museums Association
09.04.2014, 15:58
Hi Tim,

Apologies - the story should have said February 2014 with the same month last year. We've amended it now to make that clear.