Looking for love? The best place to find it is a museum

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The Independent Online

In a time-deprived age when the search for love is often squeezed into three minutes of conversation with a dozen "speed-dating" strangers, an unlikely contender is claiming its place as a hotbed for romance.

Museums and art galleries are fast becoming the stomping ground of singletons who are finding love while casting their eye over the latest exhibition.

An online museum and galleries survey has found that nearly 20 per cent of the 500 people interviewed had fallen in love at a museum, with a further 10 per cent having chatted someone up in a museum or gallery.

The survey, commissioned by the Campaign for Museums and Galleries Month, listed the Victoria and Albert Museum in London as the most romantic venue, although inner-city institutions such as the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool and the Manchester Art Gallery also featured highly.

They were also found to be a source of inspiration, with 24 per cent saying they had made a life-changing decision while on a visit.

The survey found that 65 per cent of people would take a date to a museum or gallery if they were trying to impress them, above taking them to a pub (14 per cent) or cinema (11 per cent).

Virginia Tandy, director of Manchester City Galleries, said: "A lot of galleries organise singles nights across the country. Over the last 10 years, with extra investment from the National Lottery, they have become beautiful and inspiring places to visit and they are a lovely environment to get to know people."

The regular gallery visitor Anra, 36, bumped into a former boyfriend at the Cézanne exhibition in the Tate Gallery in 1996 and they reignited their relationship at the gallery café. They were married a year later and have three children.

Top venues for romance

(Number naming gallery as most romantic in italics) * The Victoria and Albert Museum, London 31.5%

* The National Portrait Gallery, London 18.8 per cent

* Tate St Ives 11.7 per cent

* Tower of London 6.5 per cent

* Manchester Art Gallery 4.8 per cent

* The Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool 3.5 per cent

* Aston Hall, Birmingham 2.3 per cent

* Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery 2.3 per cent

* Hayward Gallery, London 2.0 per cent