Tate Modern and The Southbank Centre both suffered large falls in visitor numbers in 2015 with 18% and 19% drops respectively. Tate Modern’s 4.7 million visitors was the lowest for 10 years, however figures are expected to improve this year following the highly anticipated Georgia O’Keeffe exhibition and the opening of the venue’s new extension this summer.
A spokesperson for Tate added, “Tate Modern continues to be the world’s most popular gallery of modern and contemporary art,” “We annually attract around 4.5 to five million visitors. We achieved our highest, record-breaking year in 2014 with 5.8 million visitors, due in part to the success of Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs.”
The Southbank Centre said its fall in visitor numbers was “due to the closure for refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery from September onwards”.
For the ninth year running the British Museum was (in terms of visitors) the UK’s most popular visitor attraction in 2015. According to figures, released today the top 10 most-visited attractions were all in the capital. UK venues saw a 3.2% rise in the last year, with the biggest increase in Scotland which had a 5.48% rise.
Over 65 million people visited tourist attractions in London in 2015. 6.82 million people visited the British Museum last year, up from 6.7 million the year before. The National Gallery was again in second place with 5.9 million visitors – although it suffered an 8% drop in visitor numbers – and in third place was The Natural History Museum with 5.3 million visitors.
Temporary exhibitions were credited with giving a boost in visitors to a number of attractions including London’s Somerset House, which saw the largest increase in visitor numbers in the top 10. It had an increase of 31% and came in eighth place with 3.2 million visitors.
The Royal Academy credited its 33% increase in visitors to its Ai Weiwei and summer exhibitions.
The Victoria and Albert Museum’s visitor figures was boosted by its most visited exhibition ever, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.
Audrey Hepburn: Portraits of an Icon was also a huge draw at the National Portrait Gallery.
The Royal Academy’s Ai Weiwei’s exhibition which ran in London from 19 September until 13 December 2015 was a huge success. Bernard Donoghue, director of the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, said it was a record year for visitors from overseas and the UK. “More people visited the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, combined, than visited Venice,” he claimed. “More people visited the British Museum and the National Gallery, combined, than visited Barcelona and more people visited the Southbank Centre, Tate Modern and Tate Britain, combined, than visited Hong Kong.”