Visitor figures published today show that in the financial year 2009-10 the National Portrait Gallery
received 1, 980, 000 visits, its highest ever number. This was an increase of 8% on 2008-9 and 20% increase on 2006-7.
As well as the overall increase, the Gallery's annual BP Portrait Award exhibition - free entry made possible by BP's sponsorship - received the largest number of visitors for any National Portrait Gallery exhibition (298,420). A popular programme of displays, activities and exhibitions including Irving Penn Portraits, Constable Portraits: The Painter and His Circle, Gerhard Richter Portraits, Beatles to Bowie: the 60s exposed, Gay Icons and the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009 meant that visitor numbers to the Gallery were consistently high.
The figure is announced just prior to the tenth anniversary in May of the Gallery's Ondaatje Wing. With its theatre, rooftop restaurant and new display galleries linked by a large main hall and the longest museum escalator in Europe, it has brought new visitors to the world's oldest and largest portrait gallery. Visitor numbers have seen an increase of 99% since the Ondaatje Wing was opened.
Sandy Nairne, Director of the National Portrait Gallery, London, says: 'The National Portrait Gallery is increasingly popular and to a wider range of visitors. These visitor figures demonstrate that the Gallery is a captivating place to spend time.'