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Wales' national museums celebrate record visitor numbers

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BBC Wales History BBC Wales History | 11:20 UK time, Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The seven national museums in Wales received 1.69 million visits in 2011-12, the most since free entry was introduced in April 2001.

The Welsh Government and Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales introduced the policy of free entry eight months earlier than in England. The move nearly doubled visitor figures to national museums in Wales.

Back in 2001-02, a 'free for all' campaign resulted in figures increasing 87% - from 764,599 to 1,430,428 - within just 12 months.

The momentum has continued and grown. By 1 April 2012, 16.5 million visits had been made over the 11 years of free entry.

One particular success story during 2011-12 has been the opening of the new National Museum of Art on the top floor of National Museum Cardiff in July 2011.

National Museum of Art

The French Impressionism and Post Impressionism gallery. Photo © Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales

The developments has proved to be very popular with new audiences. There were 50,485 more visits (+13.7%) made to National Museum Cardiff during 2011-12 compared to 2010-11.

In addition, the National Wool Museum achieved over 30,000 visits for the first time. Since 2000-01, the museum located in the Teifi Valley has seen its visitor figures increase by 236%.

Speaking about the increases, David Anderson, director general of Amgueddfa Cymru, said:

"Our recent visitor figures have been excellent. Thanks to the vision and continued financial support of the Welsh Government, I'm delighted that Wales was the first country in the UK to remove a major barrier to museum attendance.

"In 2000-01 fewer than 250,000 of visits were made by people from ... less affluent groups. Over the years, the figure has increased to over 500,000 - one in every three visits."

Minister for Housing, Regeneration and Heritage, Huw Lewis, added:

"I congratulate Amgueddfa Cymru on such an impressive achievement. The free entry policy has of course proved popular with traditional museum visitors - but what really pleases me is the fact that it has also attracted completely new, harder to reach, audiences through addressing barriers to access such as poverty and social exclusion as well as encouraging tourists to visit Wales. "

Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales operates seven national museums across Wales.

Details of exhibitions and vistor events taking place at each of location can be found here:

Admission to Amgueddfa Cymru - National Museum Wales buildings is free.

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