Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Museum Visitors Increase 'Shows Cultural Appetite'

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Museum Visitors Increase 'Shows Cultural Appetite'

Article excerpt

Byline: Simon Meechan Reporter

THE Laing Art Gallery's chief curator says the North East has a "strong appetite" for culture, with museum attendance enjoying a boost despite budget cuts.

A total of 1,460,759 visited a Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums (TWAM) attraction in 2014/15, which is 2% up from the previous year's total of 1,427,697 and the highest level in five years.

Its venues include Segedunum and Arbeia Roman forts, the Stephenson Railway Museum and the Laing Art Gallery.

The boost in attendance coincides with a difficult financial time for the culture group. It's had to find PS603,000 of year-on-year savings.

One of the ways TWAM has combatted the budget cuts is through an increased focus on bringing in income through donations, shop sales and exhibition admission at the Laing Art Gallery, in Newcastle.

The gallery has hosted a Leonardo da Vinci exhibition since February 13. It showcases 10 drawings by the world-famous Italian artist and inventor.

In February - the month the exhibition opened - 28,729 people visited the gallery, compared with 17,505 in February 2015, while March saw 31,813 pass through the Laing doors, up fron 25,967 in March 2015. The gallery's chief curator, Julie Milne, said Da Vinci has a made a "big difference" in the gallery's 15% annual rise in visitors.

She said: "I think there's an appetite for culture in the North East, a strong appetite for amazing art and an appreciation for it. …

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