The half term break saw an increase in visitors of 14% for the National Museum of Science and Industry (NMSI), the group of the UK’s leading science museums, which includes the Science Museum London, National Railway Museum, York and National Media Museum, Bradford.
238, 000 guests attended in total, making this a record-breaking figure and illustrating Britain’s ever-rising interest in popular science. The Science Museum alone welcomed 20, 000 visitors in a single day, the most that have attended in one day since May 2006.
Museum visitors were treated to a series of special events laid on for the half term break – the Science Museum’s ‘Search and Rescue’ display featured one of the capsules used in the miraculous rescue of the Chilean miners in October 2010.
Further to this, the National Media Museum held a series of child-orientated events featuring Moshi Monsters, designed to make visiting fun and engaging for its younger guests and raise awareness about online safety.
At the National Railway Museum, a “Wizard Week spectacular” featured a special guest in the shape of Olton Hall, the steam star from the Harry Potter movies.
Roger Highfield, Director of External Affairs, NMSI, said; “This half term week has seen all three museums in our group enjoy a remarkable surge in the numbers of visitors. Half term is usually busy but this year we have been bowled over by the numbers.” Highfield also noted the rise in interest in popular science due to the ‘Brian Cox effect’: “ a few days ago, we had an evening Lates event in the Science Museum where 4, 600 18-30 year olds turned up, a record attendance. What we are witnessing is not so much a rise of science as recognition of its central role – science is, after all, the dominant force on modern culture.” [Professor Brian Cox (left) is an English particle physicist whose popular science TV programmes for the BBS including ‘Wonders of the Universe’ have been credited with an increased interest in science in the UK.]
The NMSI group attracts a total of more than 4 million visitors a years and looks after more than six million artefacts. It is expected that the Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester will join the group early this year.
The Science Museum proved to be the most popular of the three, attracting 143, 364 visitors in the half term week, which represents a rise of 7.9% on 2011 and the National Railway Museum saw a 5% rise over last year with 56, 888 guests.
However, the National Media Museum boasted the biggest increase on the previous year with 37, 706 visitors which is an increase of 73.4% on 2011. As media technology continues to evolve it appears to attract a large amount of interest, especially from families.
The vision is to become “the best museum in the world for inspiring people to learn about, engage with and create media”, the National Media Museum said. The attraction welcomes over 600, 000 visitors a year with more than 60, 000 coming directly from schools and universities.
The Science Museum is one of the UK’s top destinations dedicated to science, technology, engineering, design and enterprise. In a survey carried out last year, 97% of visitors said that the museum represented good value for money and 99% said they would recommend to a friend.
The museum attracts over 2.7 million guests through its doors annually, including 380, 000 who visit as part of an educational group and 1.3 million attending as a family day out. Educational outreach visits also reach a further 60, 000 budding scientists across the UK and their award-winning website is designed to ensure a maximum audience and provides resources for teachers and schools.
Image credit: ‘3G Internation’ giant distorted iphone Geoff Caddick/PA