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Investment in museums obviously pays according to 2011 visitor figures announced by ALVA
A young boy looks at a displayed rhinoceros during the reopening of the National Museum of Scotland, after its three-year $47.7 million redevelopment in Edinburgh, Scotland. REUTERS/David Moir.
LONDON.- The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions announced its members' visitor figures for 2011 today (Monday, March 5, 2012) revealing that new and refurbished museums captured visitor’s imaginations on a local, national and international level.

One of largest increases in visitors (141%) was seen by the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, the most visited attraction outside of London. The museum re-opened in July 2011 after a £47million development and welcomed just under 1.5million people to the museum – achieving the museum’s original target of 1 million visitors in less than 4 months.

Another Scottish Museum - the Riverside Museum in Glasgow - was also evidently popular with just over 1million visitors going to the spectacular waterfront landmark, designed by internationally-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, between June 21 and the end of the year.

The Museum of Liverpool – also located on a waterfront – opened in July 2011, celebrates the city’s unique geography, history and culture. It attracted 667,526 people before the end of 2011.

For the 5th year, the British Museum attracted the most visitors (5,848,534), while the blockbuster ‘Leonardo’ exhibition at the National Gallery, helped increase their visitor numbers by 6% to 5,253,216. Redevelopment and investment again reaped benefits for the National Maritime Museum – who opened the £35million Sammy Ofer Wing – again in July – raising visitor numbers by 22%.

The Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich saw a 31% increase in visitor numbers, helped partly by its starring role in numerous films including ‘The Iron Lady’ and ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’. Two English Heritage properties also saw a significant increase in their visitor figures. Wrest Park in Bedfordshire – one of Britain’s most important, yet secret gardens – opened in August after the first phase of a 20-year restoration project was completed. The garden welcomed just under 90,000 people, while the largest overall increase of 177% was at Wroxeter Roman City in Shropshire after being featured on the Channel 4 series ‘Rome wasn’t Built in a Day’.

The Science Museum achieved their highest annual visitor total since current records began in 1992 of 2,917,500.

Bernard Donoghue, Director of ALVA, commented: “The figures demonstrate that for Brits who holidayed at home in record numbers last year and for overseas visitors who came to the UK in record numbers last year, our iconic attractions are a ‘must see’ and a ‘must experience’.”

He continued: “Even at a time of economic restraint those attractions which have invested in refurbishment, new exhibitions, new marketing, new catering and retail products have seen a real return on investment and more money for the visitor economy. Domestic visitors have prioritised visits to free attractions but not exclusively; they are mindful of getting value for money and experiencing great quality and they are finding plenty of examples of both. Attractions in rural areas, away from large conurbations, have struggled however, not because of the quality or the attractiveness of the properties but because of the price of petrol to drive to them.

This year, 2012 looks set to be a great year too with the global media coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Olympic and Paralympic Games providing the UK with the world’s largest-ever, tourism advert to the world’s largest-ever TV and digital audience. 2012 will see fantastic exhibitions like ‘Lucian Freud Portraits’ at the National Portrait Gallery, ‘Damien Hirst’ at Tate Modern, ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ at the Royal Academy, ‘Picasso’ at Tate Britain, ‘Masterpieces from the Bute Collection’ at the Scottish National Gallery, ‘Turner Monet Twombly’ at Tate Liverpool, ‘British Design’ and ‘Hollywood Costumes’ exhibitions at the V&A.

Kensington Palace will re-open in late March after a £12million refurbishment. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s recently completed refurbishment and new exhibitions will also attract new, larger audiences.

In addition, great programme of events happening at National Trust, English Heritage, Historic Scotland and National Trust for Scotland properties and at Britain’s Treasures Houses, will remind the world what an amazing range of worldclass attractions we have in the UK.”

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Investment in museums obviously pays according to 2011 visitor figures announced by ALVA

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