British visitor attractions swerved 'Olympic drag' but cold weather has taken its toll
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Tuesday 12 March 2013
UK’s leading attractions managed to shrug off the feared “Olympic drag” on visitor numbers last year, but for those with outdoor spaces it was the freezing weather conditions that took their toll.
The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva) today published figures which showed blockbuster shows drove millions of people to the biggest museums and galleries in the country.
The British Museum remained the top visitor attraction in the UK for the sixth year in a row, with 5.5 million visitors, although that was 4.7 per cent lower than a year earlier.
Bernard Donoghue, director of Alva, said that while there was a decline in visitors during the Olympics, “the recovery was almost immediate after the Games left town”.
Tate Modern enjoyed its most successful single artist show since opening in 2000 with the major Damien Hirst retrospective. The show helped drive visitors by almost a tenth to 5.3 million and lift the gallery up a place from 2011 into second most popular.
The V&A in South Kensington had its best year, rising 16 per cent to 3.2 million viewers driven by its Hollywood Costume and British Design exhibitions.
Yet of the 30 sites that saw declines of more than a tenth, 27 were gardens or outside attractions.
These included the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, which dropped 14 per cent to 1 million visitors and London Zoo, down 10 per cent to 974,400. Castles and parks were among those to take the hit from the weather.
Several of the big risers benefitted from easier comparisons as a result of the venues re-opening after refurbishment or opening for the first time.
The only venue to crack the top 10 from outside of London was the National Museum of Scotland, where visitors rose almost 30 per cent to 1.8 million.
The strong performance from the only Scottish attraction to ever hit Alva’s top 10, came after the museum re-opened in July 2011.
Kensington Palace received a 41 per cent boost after its refurbishment, while the new Museum of Liverpool’s numbers rose 53 per cent as it had only opened in July 2011.
Mr Donoghue said 2013 was a “promising year” with Greenwich likely to attract fans of the movie Les Miserables to one of its backdrops at the Old Royal Naval College.
Among other heritage openings will be the £35m plan to build a museum to house the Mary Rose in Portsmouth and the new Stonehenge galleries and visitor centre.
Arts & Ents blogs
Owen Howells is a DJ/producer who grew up in Australia but was born in the UK. He came back to the U...
Fancy seeing a play about serial killers? How about inviting a funeral director into your home for a...
There are a good many moments in the second episode of this psychological thriller that deserve refl...
Liam Gallagher slams Daft Punk: 'I could have written Get Lucky in an hour'
Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
After the flood: From Haiti to Britain, one man has captured the devastation of our increasingly deluged lands
Archaeologists uncover nearly 5,000 cave paintings in Burgos, Mexico
After 61 films, including The Hangover Part III, Heather Graham admits she still likes to boogie
- 1 What, let gays get married? We must be bonkers
- 2 Rocky Horror star Tim Curry 'suffers major stroke'
- 3 Exclusive: How MI5 blackmails British Muslims
- 4 EDL marches on Newcastle as attacks on Muslims increase tenfold in the wake of Woolwich machete attack which killed Drummer Lee Rigby
- 5 Farewell, Shameless. Your heirs have work to do
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Nook is donating eReaders to volunteers at high-need schools and participating in exclusive events throughout the campaign.
Get the latest on The Evening Standard's campaign to get London's children reading.
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.