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Dr Who

Pauline McLean | 13:47 UK time, Friday, 6 March 2009

Many small people round the country will be counting the days till 28 March.

Many larger ones too, as that's the day the much anticipated Dr Who exhibition opens at Kelvingrove in Glasgow.

Advance ticket sales for the event suggest it's going to hugely popular, perhaps even topping the Kylie Minogue exhibition which brought in 165,000 visitors.

But already there are murmurings of disaproval from those who feel it's inappropriate fare for a museum.

And not just elderly board members either.

A colleague of mine - a youngish dad - was complaining that exhibitions like this have no place in a museum like Kelvingrove.

He wanted gravitas and educational displays, he said, not cybermen and Kylie's pants.

But in the same breath, he admitted his wife and three children were counting the days till they could go.

These are unashamedly populist exhibitions, and I appreciate not to everyone's tastes, but our museums can't really afford to be prissy about finding ways to draw new visitors in.

Figures released last week by ALVA - the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions - showed a 35 per cent drop in visitors to Kelvingrove in 2008, and declining numbers at many other flagship attractions.

And despite Kelvingrove's argument that this is simply a levelling out of the record numbers achieved post-refurbishment, the fear is that the recession is affecting visitors.

(And since many London attractions noted an upturn in the same period, the suggestion is that many foreign visitors are simply curtailing their trips to the UK).

There are still elements of Kelvingrove post-refurbishment which need work.

While the cross-collaboration of some of the displays is ambitious, they could provide just a little more basic information about the artefacts.

Sometimes, a simple identification label isn't enough.

But generally, it's a livelier place and if a few Cybermen can further boost its visitor numbers, who's complaining.

Who, indeed?


  • Comment number 1.

    "And despite Kelvingrove's argument that this is simply a levelling out of the record numbers achieved post-refurbishment, the fear is that the recession is affecting visitors. "

    I'd love to know what that fear is based on since admission to the museum is normally free....the museum's own reasons for the lower visitor level seems much more likey

  • Comment number 2.

    Our family visited the Doctor Who exhibition on Merseyside over half term, just before it shut up shop to make ready for the move to the Kelvingrove. The subject may be "populist" but it's actually a very interesting exhibition with a story to tell, about how a complex and expensive TV show gets onto our screens.

    I can't think of any reason for it not to come to the Kelvingrove, and I can think of at least one very good reason why it should: to try to educate the pretentious toffs out of the daft idea that our museums should be kept as exclusive temples to 'high' art (whatever that's supposed to be).

    A youngish dad.

  • Comment number 3.

    A museum is a place for collections of historical, scientific or cultural interest. How is this inappropriate? Cultural interest changes through the years and this represents current interest.

    When I was younger, I went to a very prestigious museum and saw a fantastic exhibit of the Muppets. This did not make me less educated or less cultured -- I went on to earn more than one postgraduate degree. If anything, it made me realize that museums might have something interesting to see in them and increased my curiousity about the world.

    Take the children to see the exhibit and then spark their curiousity by taking a little more time to point out other cool things in the museum. Education comes from the direction of others around you, not from objects in a glass case.

  • Comment number 4.

    Being and Old Fogey I regard museums as places for informative and "serious" information displays. attract "non-museum" types, we have to get them in the doors, and populist exhibitions will do just that.

    Perhaps if there were extra signs pointing to "light weight" or topical parts of the museum during a trendy exhibition, it might improve the odds of chance visitors finding other areas of interest and enjoyment.

    As for us fuddy duddies, museums are large buildings. I'm sure we'll find remote areas for hibernation whilst the hoards are visiting.

  • Comment number 5.

    Doctor Who is a serious matter though, its part of history for the last 50 years.

    It may not be to the extent of Roman or Egyptian history just yet, but its as exciting and more fun.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 6.

    50 years is an impressive milestone in any discipline.

    One ought also to consider the international ramifications, for better or worse, to which this programme has contributed. There are at least as many "Wholigans" outside of the UK as there are within. And these shows (nearly all) convey very positive and idealistic messages. This rather-silly-but-enjoyable programme has been spreading an optimistic world-view world-wide for half a century. Now that's a good go!

    I have my fuddy-duddy days, as well, but my wife takes great joy in dragging me into the middle of things like this. Somehow, it's probably good for me.

    Anyhow, a bit of silliness will likely do some good to the stuffy auld place.

    "Scots wha hae when the Daleks fled,
    Scots whoam the Doctor has aften led
    who would share that little shed,
    Martha, Rose, or Katy?"



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