Almost 50 million people visited government-sponsored museums and galleries in the year to April 2019, figures by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) revealed this week.
It was the highest number since records began more than 15 years ago, and compared to 33.6 million visits in 2002.
DCMS said there has been a massive jump in visitors to sponsored museums and galleries outside of London.
New initiatives and exhibitions have also seen the number of visits from children swell to 8.5 million, with the number of visitors from overseas also growing, accounting for 48 percent of all visits.
DCMS-sponsored museums make up seven of the top ten most popular free visitor attractions in Britain, with the British Museum, the Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum and V&A in the top 10 most popular art museums in the world in 2018.
Overall, visitor numbers at the 15 DCMS-sponsored museums and galleries saw a 5.5 percent increase in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.
“The figures also reveal that around half of all visitors were from overseas, confirming the important role that our museums and galleries play in attracting international tourists,” said DCMS.
Arts Minister Helen Whately said: “It’s fantastic to see the huge rise in the number of visits by children and young people, showing that our museums and galleries are doing a great job attracting new audiences and reaching a new generation.
“There has also been a dramatic increase in the number of visitors to museums and galleries outside of London, with the figures revealing an 11-percent jump compared to the previous year.”
DCMS said this was in part driven by National Museums Liverpool’s (NML) hugely successful China’s first Emperor and The Terracotta Warriors, and the Double Fantasy: John and Yoko exhibitions.
Overall, NML saw a huge 20-percent increase in visitor numbers, attracting more than 4 million people last year.