Tate Modern Surpassed the British Museum to Become London’s Most-Attended Art Institution in 2018

Tate Modern edged ahead of the British Museum to become London’s most-visited museum in 2018, according to the latest annual survey by tourism organization Visit England. The report reveals that UK museums managed to turn around a protracted decline in attendance last year—but some individual institutions still struggled to attract visitors and worrying long-term trends remain regarding museum attendance in the capital.

Last year saw a six percent increase in museum attendance nationally, partly helped by a boost in overseas tourists. An ever-weakening pound has also made staycations more attractive for British vacationers. But that modest increase has not corrected a longer-term drop in London in particular: From 2015 to 2017, the British Museum, National Gallery, and the National Portrait Gallery have seen a combined dip in attendance of around 16 percent.

Some attribute the overall decline to the end of the “halo effect” of the 2012 London Olympics, which boosted the capital’s international profile. But that does not explain why some institutions have
done well while others have lost (and then partially recovered) different groups of visitors, notably Londoners, and people living in the South East of England.

LONDON, ENGLAND –  Works on show in the Collection Gallery at the press preview of the new Royal Academy of Arts at Royal Academy of Arts on May 14, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Royal Academy of Arts)