Entertainment & Arts

Tate Modern scores record visitor numbers

Damien Hirst in front of his Doorways to the Kingdom of Heaven artwork
Damien Hirst said his first UK retrospective was "not bad for 25 years' work"

A record 5.3 million people visited Tate Modern in London last year, up 9.5% on 2011, the gallery has said.

Numbers were boosted by Damien Hirst's recent retrospective, which was the most visited solo exhibition in the gallery's history.

Some 463,000 people went to the show, which ran from April - September, featuring Hirst's famous shark suspended in formaldehyde.

Around 1.5 million people also visited Tate Britain, up 4.3% on 2011.

The Hirst show was part of the London 2012 Festival, the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad and the huge influx of visitors to London during the summer Olympics undoubtedly helped boost figures.

Other openings included Tino Sehgal's Turbine Hall installation which saw choreographed performers mingle with the gallery's visitors, and an Edvard Munch exhibition.

The gallery's underground oil tanks were also transformed into a permanent space for live art performances.

"It has been an extraordinary year at Tate Modern," Alex Beard, the gallery's deputy director said.

"Opening the world's first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works alongside an outstanding exhibition programme has undoubtedly fuelled the increase in visitors."

Tate Britain's visitor figures were helped by its the current Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Avant-Garde exhibition.

The gallery is currently undergoing major refurbishment, to be completed this year.

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