Another disappointing year for the likes of Keswick Pencil Museum and Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre, as the UK's regional museums once again lose out to the London biggies.
According to the annual survey by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA), all 10 of the most-visited cultural hubs in the country can be found in central London. The list, topped for the ninth year in a row by the British Museum, looks like this:
- The British Museum: 6,820,686
- The National Gallery: 5,908,254
- Natural History Museum: 5,284,023
- Southbank Centre: 5,102,883
- Tate Modern: 4,712,581
- Victoria and Albert Museum: 3,432,325
- Science Museum: 3,356,212
- Somerset House: 3,235,104
- Tower of London: 2,785,249
- National Portrait Gallery: 2,145,486
(It's unclear quite how these centres calculate their figures so accurately — most have multiple entrances and are not ticketed. And what counts as a visit? At least 32 of those 5,102,883 Southbank Centre visits were down to us, popping in for a strategic pee — does that count as a cultural experience?)
The big winner here is Somerset House, whose revamped wings no doubt contributed to a 30% rise on 2014, moving the centre up from ninth to eighth place. The Royal Academy saw a 33% rise in attendance, but doesn't quite make it into the top 10.
In all, 65,218,272 people visited attractions in London last year. The biggest venue outside London was the Library of Birmingham, in 11th place with precisely 1,828,999 visitors.
Bernard Donoghue, director of the ALVA, has the choice quotes. He reckons that "More people visited the V&A, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum, combined, than visited Venice... 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."
Good news for the capital, then, but perhaps bittersweet for the rest of the UK, where despite some growth in the sector, cultural institutions are more likely to face threats of closure, or displacement of collections to London.