Visitor numbers are up by 19% at London’s National Gallery (above), where major shows have drawn the crowds, but smaller galleries across the UK have also had to use their imagination to adapt to increased attendances.
Amid the gloom of the recession, businessmen might cast envious eyes towards museums and galleries.
Cultural quarters have been filled by families seeking cheap days out that stimulate minds without hitting the wallet and the number of people choosing the UK over expensive trips to the continent – “staycations”, as the national press would have it – have been instrumental in escalating punter numbers.
In the year to April 2009, the number of people visiting London’s tourist and cultural attractions soared by 20%, a figure repeated at the National Gallery and beaten by leading institutions in cities such as Liverpool, which is still feeling the potent benefits of the Capital of Culture year it enjoyed in 2008.
But while high-profile exhibitions take the limelight, the bigger attendances and new audiences mean that all venues are being forced to widen their attraction and embrace their popularity with imagination and energy.
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