Museum Numbers

I have been pondering the report in today’s Times that museum chiefs are perplexed that the numbers of people visiting the London museums are down. But this is surely inevitable given anxieties about terrorism: nobody from Tunbridge Wells is going to be particularly keen to come to London if there is a chance of being blown up, even if they can get there, given the state of Southeastern trains (it may not have escaped people’s attention that the teenager recently prosecuted for terrorism had been planning to blow up the British Museum). The other issue which is more problematic is the way that international tourism gradually creates its own special places, which domestic tourists and people living in cities then try and avoid. I feel this myself when I come out of Westminster tube station. You are in tourist-ville. The National Gallery has generally managed to avoid this atmosphere, but Trafalgar Square has not. The answer surely is what one does to attract non-metropolitan visitors, rather than lament their absence.

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4 thoughts on “Museum Numbers

  1. We got out of the Tube at South Kensington today and could hardly move. It was cheek-by-jowl in the station. We were going to the V&A to see the Frida Kahlo exhibition. (The exhibition is wonderful, by the way, very sad and poignant as well as beautiful. However, whoever made the dire decision to put ambient ‘music’ throughout the show needs to be moved to another area where they won’t inflict such pain on visitors.)

    • Hasn’t the V&A slightly escaped becoming a tourist destination, which may be part of the explanation as to why it has bucked the trend of declining visitor numbers (as have the Science Museum and Natural History Museum) ? Charles

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