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A record year for Ulster's museums

By Staff Reporter

Published 27/01/2004

ULSTER'S museums set a record for visitor numbers last year, attracting 7% more people to a range of venues.

ULSTER'S museums set a record for visitor numbers last year, attracting 7% more people to a range of venues.

The National Museums and Galleries of Northern Ireland (MAGNI) had 762,019 people through the doors of its five main sites - Ulster Museum, Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Ulster American Folk Park, Armagh County Museum and W5.

The most significant increase in visitor numbers occurred during the main visitor and tourism season from April to September, when MAGNI visits increased by 14% on the previous year, showing an upward trend in the market, well above expectations for the attractions sector generally.

The largest increase in visits came at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, where the total of 178,796 visitors was up 21% on the previous year.

At W5 the total of 237,795 visitors was up 13% on 2002.

Virtual visitor numbers to have also been high, with more than 2.6m page impressions since the launch of the MAGNI website last May.

Announcing the figures, Tim Cooke, chief executive of MAGNI, said the results were extremely encouraging, and reflected the engaging presentations, exhibitions and events now on offer at the museums.

"Some 140,000 of the visitors over the past 12 months were children taking part in organised school trips, exploring science, history and art."

He said exhibitions such as 'Conflict: The Irish At War' at the Ulster Museum and Easter, Halloween and Christmas events at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and Ulster American Folk Park were extremely popular.

"W5 at Odyssey, one of our star attractions, is appealing strongly to young people, while Armagh County Museum is pioneering workshops for community groups and the visually impaired."

The record total of museum visitors is complemented by new research showing high levels of overall visitor satisfaction, averaging 93% across the museums surveyed by specialist firm Millward Brown.

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