Why are fewer people visiting UK museums and galleries?

Did you go to a museum or gallery last year?

Figures show the number of visitors to the UK’s major museums and galleries fell last year for the first time in almost a decade.

The biggest drop in 2015/2016 was seen in educational visits and school groups, which saw a 6.9% decline on 2014/15.

So why are figures dropping? According to the Museums Association, security fears over terrorism may be a factor.

It also cites fewer so-called “blockbuster” exhibitions like the V&A’s David Bowie show in 2013, the most visited show in the London museum’s history, according to The Guardian.

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport’s figures are based on attendance at the 15 museums it sponsors that provide free entry to their permanent collections.

They include the British Museum, the National Gallery and the Tate Gallery Group, which includes Tate Britain and Tate Modern.

Tate Britain is expected to see a boost in visitor figures this year thanks to its eagerly anticipated David Hockney retrospective.

The 79-year-old artist marked the exhibition’s opening by redesigning the Sun newspaper’s logo for Friday’s “souvenir” edition.

And what else could be the hot tickets for this year?

Here are some suggestions from BBC Arts editor Will Gompertz:

1) Tony Cragg: A Rare Category of Objects

The biggest UK exhibition to date by leading sculptor Tony Cragg opens next month at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield.

2) Jasper Johns

Opening in September, the Royal Academy’s major retrospective of the American artist’s work is tipped by Will to be “a sure-fire hit”.

3) Cezanne Portraits

The National Portrait Gallery brings together more than 50 of the French artist’s portraits, including works that have never been on public display in the UK.

4) Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932

Featuring works by the likes of Wassily Kandinsky and Kazimir Malevich, the Royal Academy’s spring exhibition marks the centenary of the Russian Revolution.

5) Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017

The German artist’s first exhibition at Tate Modern includes an “immersive” new installation in the gallery’s cavernous South Tank.

And Hull is also 2017’s UK’s City of Culture, and its offerings include hosting this year’s Turner Prize later this year.


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