National Media Museum sees 11% rise in visitors

Geraldine Kendall, 20.04.2016
SMG says museum's new focus on Stem is driving success
The National Media Museum (NMM) saw its visitor numbers rise 11% in 2015-16, according to the latest figures from the Science Museum Group (SMG).

The Bradford museum welcomed 460,000 visitors last year, a figure the SMG said was driven by the museum’s “new focus on the science of image and sound”, which ties in with the government’s agenda to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.

Recent temporary exhibitions created under this agenda include a partnership with Horrible Science and last summer’s Light Fantastic exhibition on physics.

The SMG’s director Ian Blatchford said he was thrilled by the increase, which he said had been triggered by the sharpened focus on Stem.

The rise is a change in fortune for the NMM since it was threatened with closure three years ago. However, the museum's more streamlined remit has been controversial, with protests over its proposals to transfer its 400,000-strong Royal Photographic Society (RPS) archive to London and cease its involvement in Bradford International Film Festival.
 
The MP for South Bradford, Judith Cummins, welcomed the rise in visitor numbers but said the loss of the RPS collection would be a “regressive step”.

“The future of the museum is key not only to the cultural success of the city of Bradford, but the wider Yorkshire region. For that reason, I remain very concerned and staunchly opposed to the SMG’s proposal to ship the RPS’ collection down the M1.”

The SMG’s four other museums all saw a rise in visitor numbers, with a total increase of 4% across all sites.
 
The National Railway Museum in York recorded a 3% rise in spite of severe flooding in the city last winter. The newly restored Flying Scotsman and the staging of two plays at the museum in partnership with York Theatre Royal helped drive up footfall. The National Railway Museum in Shildon had similar success, reporting a 27% rise.
 
The Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester, which has also made significant efforts to align itself with the Stem agenda, saw its numbers increase by 4%, while visits by schools and educational groups to the museum rose by 12%.
 
The Science Museum in London welcomed 3.4m visitors through its doors, a 2% rise on last year and the highest attendance in the museum’s history.

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