Entertainment & Arts

Tate Modern overtakes British Museum as top UK visitor attraction

Picasso exhibition at Tate Modern Image copyright EPA
Image caption Tate Modern's hit shows in 2018 included a major Picasso exhibition

The British Museum has lost its crown as the UK's most popular visitor attraction for the first time in a decade, overtaken by Tate Modern.

Almost 5.9 million people visited the Tate Modern art gallery last year, new figures show - just above the 5.8 million who went to the British Museum.

Elsewhere, an exhibition of Terracotta Warriors helped visitor numbers to Liverpool's World Museum jump by 111%.

Image copyright Gareth Jones
Image caption Terracotta Warriors at Liverpool's World Museum

That made it the most-visited English museum outside London in 2018.

According to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (Alva), the World Museum was visited by 1.4 million people in 2018 - 610,000 of whom saw the ancient Chinese statues.

It was 23rd on the overall national list, above Tate Britain and London Zoo.

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery also saw a big rise, thanks partly to the visit by "Dippy" the Diplodocus.

The replica dinosaur skeleton was in Birmingham for five months as part of its three-year tour from the Natural History Museum. Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery welcomed 832,000 people in 2018 - up 38% on the previous year.

The new branch of the V&A in Dundee received 341,265 visits between its opening in September and the end of the year.

Tate Modern, which staged blockbuster exhibitions by Picasso and Modigliani last year, is top of the overall list for the first time since it opened in 2000.

Despite the overall rise in visitor numbers, some outdoor attractions had a dip - mostly blamed on the extreme cold spell early in the year.

The country's second most popular garden, RHS Garden Wisley in Surrey saw its visitor numbers drop by more than 70,000.

The Eden Project in Cornwall; ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Bedfordshire; Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire; and Chatsworth House, Derbyshire also all saw a drop in visits.

"I wish tourism was slightly more sophisticated, but weather has always been a determining factor on where people go," said Alva director Bernard Donoghue.

Alva also said the World Cup period had also led to a fall in visitors to some attractions.

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