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Thursday, 22 February, 2001, 16:28 GMT
V&A plans new image
The Victoria and Albert Museum
The report says the V&A must "improve communications"
The Victoria and Albert museum has said it will rebrand itself after a report showed visitor number had plummeted due to its old-fashioned image.

There are good things going on at the V&A but not enough people know about them

Sir John Bourn, NAO
The National Audit Office (NAO), a government spending watchdog, said most people "have no idea" what is inside the museum.

The fall in visitor figures by 200,000 last year makes the V&A Britain's most expensive museum in terms of government subsidy - as the taxpayer pays 25 for each visitor.

NAO head Sir John Bourn said: "There are good things going on at the V&A but not enough people know about them."

model of V&A extension
Libeskind's proposed extension to the V&A
But the report found that though visitors described the museum and its three branch museums, the Theatre Museum, Museum of Childhood and Wellington Museum, as "dusty", 99% were satisfied by their visit.

The museum, which once advertised itself as "an ace cafe with a museum attached", has responded by saying it can redeem itself.


The V&A management has pledged to rebrand the museum, which is the national museum of art and design.

It expects visitor numbers to pick up due to a 31m redevelopment of the British Galleries, due for completion later this year, and a controversial 80m extension by architect Daniel Libeskind to be in place by 2005.

A V&A spokesperson said that visitor numbers had risen since the period covered by the report and are forecast to rise by 9% in 2000-2001.

Part of the drop in attendance in 1999-2000 was due to the decision to mount a specialist interest exhibition on Sikh art rather than a crowd-drawing "blockbuster", said the spokesman.

That display attracted only 119,000 people, but was one of the V&A's most successful initiatives in broadening the range of its visitors, with 63% of those attending from the Sikh community, 73% making their first trip to the museum and 41% on their first trip to any museum.

See also:

22 Apr 99 | Entertainment
20m for V&A extension
24 Jan 01 | Entertainment
'Free entry' to museums
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