New Great North Museum heralds record year for venues in Newcastle

By Culture24 Staff | 22 April 2010
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A photo of a museum full of models of animals with a man in a suit in the background

Great North Museum Senior Manager Steve McLean (above) has overseen unprecedented visitor numbers since the centre opened in May 2009. Photo © Craig Connor / North News and Pictures Ltd

The new £26 million Great North Museum and the award-winning success of The Late Shows, Newcastle’s late-night cultural crawl for Museums at Night, have helped museums and galleries across Tyneside to announce record visitor numbers of more than two million people for 2009/10.

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums have reported the 500,000-punter rise on last year's total, including more than 750,000 visitors to the flagship GNM, which opened in May with the more modest target of 300,000 visitors in 12 months.

"We always knew the Great North Museum would be a huge success but its popularity since it was launched has surpassed all of our expectations," admitted Iain Watson, acting director of the Archives and Museums.

"We have an exciting programme of exhibitions, events and capital developments across our venues in the coming year so I am confident we will continue to see impressive visitor numbers."

A "significant increase" in visitors were drawn to the Beatles and Bowie exhibition at the Laing Art Gallery, which has counted more than 60,000 guests to the 1960s themed show since it opened in April. Numbers were also up at the city's Discovery Museum and Shipley Art Gallery.

A photo of two young women laughing inside a gallery

The Late Shows, part of Museums at Night, proved a huge success last year

The Late Shows won the Best Integrated Campaign in the Northern Marketing Awards after a hugely successful 2009 festival which attracted more than 15,000 people.

The Great North Museum has already won the Renaissance Museum Award, Best Interactive Exhibits in a Museum Setting prize and Best Launch Campaign from the Northern Marketing Awards 2009.

It was highly commended in the Best Interior in the World in 2009 category at the World Architecture Awards, and has been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize 2010.

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