Monday, April 26, 2010

Top 10 Art Exhibitions in the UK in 2009

Earlier this month I wrote about the Top 30 art galleries and museums in 2009. It was based on an article in The Art Newspaper about attendances at art museums and art exhibitions. Most of the article in fact focuses on the exhibitions

It ranks these according to the average number of visitors per day - which I have to confess I find to be a very curious way of ranking exhibitions. Surely if you know you've got a blockbuster then you'll try and fit in as many days as possible? More days = more people through the door = more income.

However according to this method of ranking having more days means your exhibition will not rank as well as one with a smaller number of visitors held on fewer days.

Which means I officially don't 'get it'.

Here's some reasons why.
  • A successful exhibition for any museum these days has to be one which makes money as well as being intrinsically a 'good' exhibition from an artistic perspective.
  • The costs of a large exhibition will always tend to have astronomical fixed costs associated with transporting art to and fro irrespective of the length of the exhibition - unless the exhibition is largely based on a museum's own collection. Hence I would have thought (this is the professional accountant in me coming out) that any museum would want to maximise the revenue earning potential in order to offset those heavy fixed costs.
To be honest I'm also not sure I totally believe all the figures submitted to the Art Newspaper. I do know which ones have staff with counters counting people into the exhibitions. However I've noticed others which are (shall we say) not as vigilant. Hence why I've raised an eyebrow or two over some of the results.

I can well imagine there might be a few raised eyebrows around the Art Newspaper too - and amongst other visitors and museum management and exhibition organisers. Roll on the day when there is a common standard for counting and it's verifiable!

The Art Newspaper/s article also provides top ten rankings for different types of exhibitions around the world.

Top Exhibitions in the UK

Two of the images from the Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009
copyright the photographers

The top 10 exhibitions in the UK in 2009 were according to the The Art Newspaper's methodology, the following
  1. Saatchi Gallery | The Revolution Continues: New Chinese Art
  2. Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery | Banksy vs Bristol Museum
  3. Saatchi Gallery | Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East
  4. Royal Academy of Arts | Anish Kapoor
  5. National Portrait Gallery | BP Portrait Award 2009
  6. National Portrait Gallery | Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2009
  7. Tate Modern | Rothko
  8. National Gallery | Corot to Monet - a fresh look at landscape from the collection
  9. Royal Academy of Arts | Byzantium 330-1453
  10. National Gallery | Picasso Prints: Challenging the Past
Which means 9 were in London, of which 6 were hosted by 3 museums - the Saatchi Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.

Which means that the #2 ranked Museum in the World (the British Museum) did not contribute a single exhibition to the top 10. (see Top 10 art galleries and museums around the world)

However if you rework it according to actual visitor numbers then the list goes like this
  1. Saatchi Gallery | The Revolution Continues Unveiled
  2. Saatchi Gallery | New Art from the Middle East
  3. Royal Academy of Arts | Byzantium 330-1453
  4. Tate Modern | Rothko
  5. Bristol City Museum & Art Gallery | Banksy vs Bristol Museum
  6. National Portrait Gallery | BP Portrait Award 2009
  7. Royal Academy of Arts | Anish Kapoor
  8. National Portrait Gallery | Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize
  9. Tate Britain | Francis Bacon
  10. National Gallery | Picasso Prints: Challenging the Past
In this listing the Tate does very much better but over two sites.

Plus there's still an overwhelming amount of interest in art which does not come from the conventional western world.

I must confess I was surprised by the performance of the National Portrait Gallery - but it's always packed with visitors so I guess I shouldn't be. Especially as it's one of my favourite museums.

1 comment:

Tina Steele Lindsey said...

All I can say is, yummy yummy yummy. Thank you!

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