RA's `Sensation' show proves a hit

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The Independent Online
The Royal Academy said yesterday that its "Sensation" exhibition was on line to become its most successful contemporary show ever, with visitors "voting with their feet" to see the controversial exhibits.

Figures obtained by The Independent show that more than 25,000 people visited the exhibition in Piccadilly, central London, in its first week, despite fears that publicity surrounding some of the exhibits would turn people away.

Reaction to the show has been extreme. Last week a huge portrait of Myra Hindley, created with children's handprints, by Marcus Harvey had to be removed for restoration after protesters threw indian ink and eggs at it.

Mindful of the controversy, the RA has been giving out questionnaires to visitors to guage their reaction. Of 463 questionnaires returned by yesterday, 450 said the RA "had been right to present art even if it shocks or causes offence". Against reports of high-level resignations, more than 400 people had applied to become "Friends of the Royal Academy" - compared with a usual weekly total of 120.