The British Museum sees surge in online visitors as museums across the world close their doors

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The British Museum sees surge in online visitors as museums across the world close their doors
The majority of the Museum’s galleries can also be explored virtually via Google Street View.

LONDON.- The number of visitors to the British Museum website has doubled in the past two and a half weeks, when the coronavirus crises began to accelerate and museums across the globe were forced to close. For the period 1 March to 18 March 2020 978,548 users visited, up from 472,890 in the same period last year. The majority of this increase has occurred in the past 7 days.

The top country in terms of online visitors in March is Italy, up from fourth in January and fifth in February 2020. Visits from this country have increased more than 10-fold: from 16,672 in the whole of February, to 203,250 so far in March. This period coincides with Italy’s stricter measures to stay at home to tackle the pandemic.

As museums have shut across Europe over the past week, there has also been a big spike in interest in the Museum’s online content and virtual tours. “Virtual tours” is this month the second most searched for term on the British Museum website. It has not featured in the top 10 before. Other searches in the top 10 include some the British Museum’s most famous treasures such as the Rosetta Stone and the Lewis Chessmen. The ‘Collection’ section of the website, which contains articles and stories about highlights from the Museum’s 8 million-strong collection, is where the majority of visitors are heading. On 10 March it was saw 2,707 users in a day. On 13 March, it had rocketed 116,895 users. There is higher than normal traffic for all themed stories – such as Animals in the collection and Desire, love and identity.

The section of the website dedicated to resources for schools and families is also seeing a spike in traffic, which has doubled. The Museum offers a wide range of downloadable resources for school pupils on subjects from across the curriculum and all key stages Popular topics include Ancient Britain, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum says: “Culture gives comfort in times of turmoil, it unites us and makes us understand what it means to be human. As the world grapples with this current crisis, I am glad that so many people are coming to the website and online collections of the British Museum. Our collection bears witness to humanity’s ability to survive and indeed thrive in precarious times. The Museum is working hard to bring even more stories and content to audiences around the country and around world in the coming days and weeks.”

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