Smithsonian attendence pushes to 30 million visitors in 2009

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The Independent Online

With 30 million visitors in 2009, the Smithsonian Institution -- which oversees 18 of the most prestigious museums and cultural centers in the United States -- has rebounded to pre-2001 attendance levels, it said Wednesday.

(AFP) -

With 30 million visitors in 2009, the Smithsonian Institution - which oversees 18 of the most prestigious museums and cultural centers in the United States - has rebounded to pre-2001 attendance levels, it said Wednesday.

The increase can be explained in part by the reopening of one of the Smithsonian's jewels, the National Museum of American History, which holds one of the first versions of the Stars and Stripes flag, among other invaluable objects.

After a two-year renovation, the museum saw 4.4 million visitors during 2009, the Institution said.

In explaining the rise, spokeswoman Linda St Thomas also cited museums being open in the evenings during summer months.

Because the museums are free, the tallies cannot be based on ticket sales, and the count can include staff and people who leave and return to a museum on the same day.

After getting 31.7 million visitors in 2001, the museums suffered as tourist traffic sharply curtailed following the attacks on Washington and New York, receiving 26.3 visitors a year later and falling to a low of 20.4 million visitors in 2004.

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