Visitor numbers boom at nationals in north of England
Jessica Browne-Swinburne, 09.01.2019
Footfall at some London institutions also bounces back
There was an upward trend in visitors to England's national institutions between April and October last year with museums in the north leading the charge, according to the latest data released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Overall, visits to DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries rose by 6% between April and October 2018 compared to the same period in 2017.
Institutions in the north of England saw a 20% rise in numbers, with more than 5.14m visitors passing through the doors of the nine national museums and galleries in the region in that period.
Tate Liverpool saw its footfall rise by 15%, from 418,937 to 480,271, and National Museums Liverpool attracted a record-breaking 2.89m visitors between April and October 2018.
The museum attributed its high numbers to the success of a blockbuster exhibition, China’s First Emperor and the Terracotta Warriors, which drew in more visitors than any ticketed show in the UK in the previous year.
David Henshaw, the chairman of National Museums Liverpool, praised the success of the exhibition and the significant contribution it made to the economy of the city. “More than three-quarters of visitors told us that the Terracotta Warriors exhibition was the main reason for their visit to Liverpool.
“We’re really proud of the impact the exhibition has had on the city region.”
Visitor figures also bounced back at some of London's national museums and galleries in 2018 following a noticeable dip the previous year, which was attributed to terrorism fears and transport problems.
Footfall was up by 21% at the Natural History Museum between April and October 2018, and the National Gallery reported a 16% rise.
But this trend didn't apply across the board; visits to the British Museum were down 5% on the previous year, while the Tate reported larger falls at its London sites, with footfall dropping 29% at Tate Modern and 26% at Tate Britain - a return to normal levels after both sites attracted record numbers the previous year.
The National Portrait Gallery, which was forced to revise its 2017 figures after discovering that faulty equipment had led to significant undercounting, reported a small drop of 3% in 2018.
In Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru (National Museums Wales) had its most successful year ever in 2017/18, according to its latest annual review. The museum welcomed almost 1.78m visitors to its seven sites in that year - the highest attendance since it was founded in 1907.
Worldwide, museum visits reached record levels in 2018. In Paris, the Louvre reported its highest ever numbers, with more than 10.2m people coming through its doors, surpassing the museum’s 2012 record of 9.7m.
This followed the success of the museum’s Delacroix exhibition, which drew in 540,000 visitors, and the publicity generated by Apesh*t, the six-minute music video by Beyoncé and Jay-Z, which was shot inside the museum and features some of its most famous artworks.
The Met museum in New York also set a new attendance record in July last year, welcoming more than 7.35m visitors. It followed the success of the museum's Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination exhibition, which attracted 1.66m visitors and has become its most-visited show.