Birmingham Museums is celebrating as visitor figures released today by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) reveal that over 831,500 people visited Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (BMAG) last year, after a bumper year of exhibitions, events and displays.
Last year’s figures are an increase of 38% on 2017 and showcase the popularity of hit exhibitions such as Dippy on Tour. Over a quarter of a million people flocked to Birmingham to see the Natural History Museum’s iconic exhibit, making Dippy on Tour the most popular temporary exhibition ever at BMAG.
2018 was also a major year for the Staffordshire Hoard as BMAG revealed a reconstruction of a high-status helmet contained within the Anglo-Saxon treasure. On display from November, the addition to the permanent Staffordshire Hoard gallery continues to prove popular with visitors.
These major moments, along with innovative exhibitions such as The Past is Now, Women Power Protest and a new display of paintings and watercolours by celebrated Birmingham-born landscape artist David Cox, helped to make it the busiest year at BMAG since 2015, and the third busiest in the last 40 years.
2019 has also got off to exciting start with a display of Leonardo da Vinci drawings from the Royal Collection, which has already attracted 50,000 since the 12 drawings went on display on 1 February. Visitors to BMAG have also been wowed by colourful and creepy exhibition Too Cute!, curated by artist and filmmaker Rachel Maclean as part of the Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme.
Dr Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums, said: “Thank you to everyone who visited our sites in 2018 and made it such a successful year for Birmingham Museums Trust. Dippy proved a hit with visitors of all ages, especially small ones. Our programme of excellent events and exhibitions across the year continues into 2019.
“Visitors can see the Leonardo da Vinci drawings until 6 May and this summer we are celebrating 50 years of the famous Birmingham band, Black Sabbath, with the exhibition Home of Metal. Our visitor offer for the rest of 2019 includes late night tours and a silent disco, building on last years’ success.”
Bernard Donoghue, Director, ALVA, said: "The huge increase in visitors to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery - one of the largest increases in the whole of the UK - is wonderful proof of the growing success and ambition of Birmingham Museums Trust. Dippy, the diplodocus from London's National History Museum, may have been the star draw in 2018, but visitors from Birmingham, the West Midlands and from further afield really responded to the eye-catching, fun, provocative series of exhibitions at the Museum and Art Gallery and across the Trust's other sites. This is a great success story for Birmingham."
Visitor numbers at Birmingham Museums’ oldest museum and most popular historic property, Aston Hall, also grew. The magnificent Grade I listed Jacobean mansion recorded an increase of 27% in visitors thanks to an innovative programme of events and exhibitions in its 400th anniversary year.