British Museum remains top attraction in UK as numbers surge

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions has revealed its members saw an average increase of 6.5 per cent in visitors last year when compared to 2013.

Scottish attractions had the greatest increase of almost ten per cent increase, followed by London with an increase of 7.11 per cent.

The British Museum remained the most popular visitor attraction overall for the eighth year running with 6,695,213 visitors and remaining in second place was the National Gallery, which saw a 6.4 per cent increase to 6,416,724.

Included in the numbers for the first time was the Southbank Centre - who saw 6,255,799 visitors - securing them the position of third place.

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Jude Kelly, artistic director of Southbank Centre, said: “It’s very exciting to have been welcomed as an ALVA member and we’re thrilled to feature so highly in their annual list of top visitor attractions.

“Drawing on our rich heritage as London’s festival site, we have been ambitiously growing our year-round festival programme over the last few years, reinforcing Southbank Centre’s position as a thriving, vibrant destination that delights in placing excellence and egalitarianism side by side.

“Through our festivals, we bring together a diverse mix of artists, partners, communities and audiences in our venues and across our 21-acre site at the heart of London’s South Bank.”

The Commonwealth Games and its Cultural Programme saw Glasgow’s Attractions achieve some of the largest increases with Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum having a 7.5 per cent increase, while the Riverside Museum saw a 41.8 per cent increase, Gallery of Modern Art (8.8 per cent) and the People’s Palace 22.5 per cent.

The Commonwealth Games didn’t just fly the flag for Glasgow but drew visitors to Scotland’s attractions; the National Museum of Scotland was not only the most visited free attraction in Scotland with 1,639,509 visitors but was the most visited museum outside of London.

Edinburgh Castle was the most visited paid-for attraction outside London with 1,480,676 visitors resulting in a four per cent increase.

Libraries attracted substantial numbers with the Library of Birmingham - which opened in 2013 - being the most visited free attraction outside London, in tenth place with 2,414,860 - proving to be an attraction in its own right - and the British Library saw visits to its public exhibitions and programme rise by 52 per cent.

Museums & Galleries throughout the UK saw a 6.09 per cent increase.

Blockbuster exhibitions continued to boost visitor numbers - with Tate Modern welcoming a record 5,785,427 visitors (fourth place) - which was undoubtedly helped by the Matisse exhibition, while the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford saw a 16 per cent increase aided by the successful exhibitions of Francis Bacon/Henry Moore, followed by Cezanne.

Investment and refurbishment continued to reap rewards - with Stonehenge and its new Visitor Centre, which opened in December 2013, seeing an 8.4 per cent increase to 1,346,177.