Most visited UK museum in 2021 revealed

The London museum received more than 1.5 million visitors in 2021.

18 March 2022

The Natural History Museum was the most visited UK museum in 2021.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) has revealed that the London museum had a 21% increase in attendance with 1,571,413 visitors last year, making it the most popular indoor attraction in the UK.

It has achieved this despite being closed for five months of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature
The Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature is based on the Harry Potter spin-off series (The Natural History Museum/PA)

Museum director Doug Gurr said: “I couldn’t be prouder of these phenomenal figures given the enormous challenges posed by the pandemic – not least the closure of the museum for more than five months.

“It is testament to the hard work and resilience of all our staff who ensured visitors had the same world-class welcome and experience as well as the innovative public programme offering which included three temporary exhibitions: Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It, Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature and Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

“We are grateful to the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for their much-needed ongoing support which enabled us to achieve these figures, this will remain critical as we continue our recovery.”

The museum’s popular temporary exhibitions have helped drive visitor numbers over the year, including The Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature showcase which is inspired by creatures dreamt up by JK Rowling from her Harry Potter spin-off series.

The exhibition, which was developed in partnership with the BBC and Warner Bros, had 128,000 visitors in 2021.

Its Our Broken Planet: How We Got Here and Ways to Fix It display, which engages visitors with the planetary emergency, has already been seen by 500,000 visitors since it opened its doors in May 2021.

Dippy the Dinosaur to return
The 26-metre-long skeletal cast of Dippy the Diplodocus returns to the museum in May (Johnny Green/PA)

The museum’s popular photography exhibition – Wildlife Photographer of the Year – has already been seen by more than 75,000 visitors so far since it opened on October 15 2021.

Dippy the Dinosaur, a 26-metre-long installation of a Diplodocus cast, will also return to the museum in May after it recently concluded a four-year tour of the UK.

The dinosaur cast was first put on display in the London museum in 1905 and was seen by more than two million people over the course of its nationwide tour.

The museum’s director of public programmes, Alex Burch, added: “We have an exciting year ahead of us – we’re looking forward to introducing a whole new generation to the nation’s favourite dinosaur with Dippy Returns opening in May and the beginning of the transformation of our gardens as part of the Urban Nature Project.

“As part of our drive to become a more inclusive museum we are continuing to develop our community programme and exploring ways to engage underserved audiences.”

The museum has said it will continue to run its popular events throughout the year, including Silent Discos, Yoga at the Museum, Adventure Babies and Behind the Scenes Spirit collection tour.

Also returning are the ‘Dawnosaurs’ sessions which allow children with neurodiverse conditions to attend without the hustle and bustle of the general public.

More information about the Natural History Museum can be found at nhm.ac.uk.

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