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Tate Modern overtakes British Museum in UK visitor rankings

The British Museum had held the position for the past nine years.

Tate Modern has overtaken the British Museum to become the most popular UK museum or gallery, according to new figures.

A report in The Art Newspaper puts Tate Modern, which opened in 2000, at the top of UK rankings for visitor numbers in 2018.

The British Museum had held the position for nine years.

The British Museum
The British Museum (Tim Ireland/PA)

It has now fallen to sixth place with 5.82 million visitors, in the survey that ranks museums and galleries across the world by popularity.

Tate Modern, which enjoyed success in 2018 with its Picasso exhibition, now occupies the fifth spot internationally, with 5.9 million visitors in 2018.

The British Museum said in a statement: “We congratulate Tate Modern on being the UK’s leading visitor attraction.

“The British Museum continues to welcome nearly six million visitors a year to the collection, numbers for the period January – March 2019 were 20% up on the same period the previous year which bodes well for 2019.

“We are especially proud of the nine million UK visitors we reach through our national programme activity across the country.”

The Louvre remains the most visited museum and gallery in the world.

The Paris institution had credited its boost of popularity in 2018 to a music video by Beyonce and Jay-Z filmed in the former palace.

The Art Newspaper says visitors to the Louvre, which also staged a record-breaking Delacroix exhibition, increased by 26% to 10.2 million in 2018.

The Victoria & Albert Museum
The Victoria & Albert Museum (Tim Ireland/PA)

London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which held exhibitions on Frida Kahlo, Winnie-the-Pooh and fashion house Balenciaga, also reported a record year, with four million visitors, while the National Gallery is also in the international top 10.

The figures are published in the April issue of the newspaper, out on March 27.

1. Musee du Louvre, Paris
2. National Museum of China, Beijing
3. Metropolitan Museum, New York
4. Vatican Museums, Vatican City
5. Tate Modern, London
6. British Museum, London
7. National Gallery, London
8. National Gallery of Art, Washington
9. State Hermitage, St Petersburg
10. Victoria & Albert Museum, London

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