MUSEUMS are helping to cement Portsmouth’s status as a hub of culture and history with visitor numbers for 2017 at a high.
Last year 213,175 people visited museums and historic houses across the city – including Charles Dickens’ Birthplace Museum, the Natural History Museum at Cumberland House, Portsmouth Museum and Southsea Castle.
This is a 10 per cent increase in visits from the previous year, taking into account the temporary closure of the D-Day Museum, and it is hoped statistics for 2018 could surpass this.
The figures proved that a scheme to boost visitor rates, the Portsmouth Museums Strategy, had its intended impact.
Now in its third year, the initiative aimed to pique interest in the city’s museums and benefit the community. It included transforming the D-Day Museum into a new £5m experience, installing a butterfly house at the Natural History Museum and increasing gift sales.
Portsmouth Museums manager, Jane Mee, said: ‘The year that’s gone has been dominated by our work on the D-Day Museum project which was all encompassing.
‘Although we have been very preoccupied with the building works and the new exhibition, we have managed to get out in the city with our pop-up museum programme We have also worked very closely with people with disabilities to try to make sure the new offer at the museum is as accessible as possible.
‘We’ve got very successful and innovative approaches to sharing the D-Day story.’
Cllr Linda Symes, cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport, praised the work of those involved.
She said: ‘This shows the breadth of our cultural offer and our commitment to delivering a range of experiences, exhibition and activities.’
Cllr Symes says that the innovation from museums is the secret to their success.
She said: ‘What the museums offer across the city is going from strength to strength and we have many exciting things planned for the year ahead.’
Portsmouth also made a name for itself in museums around the world.
The city’s collections on loan to other museums drew in just under 60,000 visitors.
They included Gosport, Entrance to Portsmouth Harbour by JMW Turner, on display at Kitakyushu Municipal Museum of Art, Japan, and Boys Swimming with Shark by Charles Saul, on display at the London Art Fair.