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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.”

Today's News

March 6, 2012

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J. Paul Getty Museum acquires 25 photographs by acclaimed 20th century photographer Ansel Adams

Christie's announces the sale of the Pieter & Olga Dreesmann Collection of Dutch Old Master paintings

Sotheby's to offer the personal jewellery collection of one of the most important jewellers of the 20th century

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston presents exhibition featuring newly conserved 17th century Tibetan paintings

Arte Primitivo Gallery announces online sale of Pre-Columbian and Tribal art, Classical and Asian antiquities

UBC Museum of Anthropology receives private "treasure" of early Bill Reid works

First time at auction for Banksy's 2002 art work, Leopard and Barcode, at Bonhams Urban art sale

Sweden's Nationalmuseum acquires Johan Tobias Sergel's portrait of Duchess Hedvig Elisabet Charlotta

David Lynch's first solo exhibition in New York since 1989 opens at Tilton Gallery

Trove of "lost" movie posters set to bring $250,000+ in Heritage Auctions movie posters event

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

Exhibition of eight paintings by Francisca Sutil on view at Nohra Haime Gallery

Arthur Tress: San Francisco 1964 opens at the de Young Museum in San Francisco

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100% of motor cars sold in £1.3 million sale at Bonhams Oxford

Christie's announces the sale of the Daphne Guinness Collection to benefit the Isabella Blow Foundation

deCordova announces new Education hire and strategic changes to program

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