Sir Nicholas Penny on visitor numbers

April 23 2018

Image of Sir Nicholas Penny on visitor numbers

Picture: Apollo

There's an interesting piece in Apollo on visitor numbers; are they good or bad? Sir Nicholas Penny, the former director of the National Gallery in London seems to be no great fan of them, but accepts that they're necessary. He makes many good points, including:

Even if attendance figures were not presented as a league table, comparisons between different institutions would be inevitable. Trustees and directors are gripped by the vivid and simplified drama of the contest. They find it difficult not to see their institution in a competition with the others, as if it were a football club. It becomes surprisingly hard to recognise that there should be nothing worrying about the number of visitors to a different institution edging ahead because, for example, it has mounted an exhibition of the work of David Hockney.

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