Figures released in an annual survey have placed the British Museum as the second most popular gallery in the world. The Louvre has again topped the roll of the best-attended art museums. The French institution had 500,000 fewer visitors last year but still managed attendance figures totalling 9.3 million, head and shoulders above other major museums. In 2013 the British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York changed positions on the list. The British Museum which has a no charging policy, except for admission into special blockbuster exhibitions, such as last year’s Pompeii, moved up the ranks. The London institution saw its attendance rise to 6.7 million putting it into second place. The Met in New York which has a voluntary $25 admission policy, still had its attendance rise to 6.2 million, coming in third.
The National Gallery in London also had a successful year with over six million visitors placing it in sixth position, up by one place, from 2012. Tate Modern, without a draw like the Damien Hirst retrospective found visitor figures fall to 4.8 million from 5.3 million. In 2012 the popular gallery came 4th in the pole. This year it is in the sixth spot.
The figures compiled by The Art Newspaper are holding despite several years of the biggest cuts to the arts in UK post war history. Arts Council England in a restructuring of its grant system judged 1,333 arts organisations to choose the new National Portfolio. The application process selected 695 arts organisations who realised funding leaving 638 to sink or swim. The arts industry in the UK is the second largest money spinner next to finance. It accounts for billions of pounds in revenue for the government. Arts spending has recently been part of a concerted campaign by a few ill informed MP’s who have attempted to pinpoint waste in government spending. This has had a limited amount of success and has been ineffectual as a public rallying point. It is now time for the DCMS (department of Culture Media & Sport) to realise that art is a money spinner and an industry worth investing in, for the future.