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Tuesday, 3 April, 2001, 13:10 GMT 14:10 UK
Tate leads museum boom
The Queen at Tate Modern
The Queen opening Tate Modern last May
London's Tate Modern has helped push visitor numbers to England's museums and galleries up by 20% in the past year.

The new art venue attracted all but 700,000 of the 4.7 million extra people who visited the 17 institutions sponsored by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

Tate Modern, in Southwark, south London, is believed to be the most successful new museum ever opened in the UK. Opened in May 2000, it was built inside the former Bankside power station on the River Thames.

Together with the other Tate sites at Liverpool, St Ives, Cornwall, and Pimlico, central London, it makes the institution the most visited museum or gallery in England, with 6.7 million people through the doors in total.

Admissions

Tate Modern
The gallery is in a former power station
A Tate Modern spokesman said: "We anticipated two million in our first year and we have well exceeded that, which is great."

The figures show there were 28.4 million admissions at the 17 venues in 2000/01 - compared with 23.7 million in 1999/2000.

The other venues include the British Museum, which recently unveiled its revamped Great Court, which saw 5.7 million visitors.

The National Gallery saw 4.65 million visitors and the Science Museum took 2.8 million admissions.

Charges

Other London venues contributing to the figures include the National Maritime Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum, while outside the capital the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester and the National Museums and Galleries in Liverpool also feature.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said he hoped the figures would be even better next year when admission charges are scrapped. Tate Modern already does not charge its visitors.

Visitors study Interior with Waterlilies by Roy Lichtenstein
Visitors study a work by Roy Lichtenstein
"These figures are great news and are further evidence of just how popular our national museums and galleries are with the public," he said.

"They are giving millions of people the opportunity to be stimulated, educated and inspired.

"The figures also demonstrate clearly the valuable and sometimes under-rated contribution that the national museums and galleries make to our cultural and economic wealth."

Mr Smith added that Tate Modern's success showed "there is a very real interest in contemporary art, and area which is often criticised for being impenetrable and deliberately controversial".

The two architects behind the conversion of Tate Modern from a power station, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron, won the prestigious Pritzker prize earlier this week for their efforts.

See also:

06 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Tate Modern beats Dome
02 Apr 01 | Arts
Tate team wins major award
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