My office opens onto our temporary exhibition space. I’ve got to walk through that space before I can get anywhere else in the museum. Normally I can stride straight through with a polite nod to one or two visitors. Since the summer I’ve had to negotiate a careful route across the room to avoid getting between art lovers and the works of art they are enjoying. Staff, volunteers, business contacts, colleagues from other museums and all who come here on are regular basis have commented on how much busier we are. It’s all thanks to the exhibition we’ve been showing since June – “Chagall, Soutine and the School of Paris”. Due to its popularity we have even decided to extend the exhibition for a while longer.
It’s obvious that visitor numbers are up but we have been delighted to record an 80% rise in visitors from the age group 35-55. We accept that in general the 55 plus age group have more leisure time to visit museums. When we see an increase from a younger group with restricted free time, we know they made a special effort to come. We hope that once here they’ll be so impressed with both the temporary and permanent displays and our tours, they’ll want to come back and bring their friends.
Events organized around the exhibition have also brought in visitors. With the Tate Liverpool we were involved in a programme called “Chagall: In the North West”. Many events for that were held at the museum, for example Rabbi Anthony Walker talked about the role of Judaism in the lives of Chagall and his contemporaries. Gavin Delahunty, Curator at the Tate Modern spoke about the development and influences of Chagall’s unique style. Working with the MMU we hosted a conference back in September on “Jews and Modern Visual Culture” which attracted visitors both nationally and internationally. At the start of the academic year schools brought in art classes who viewed the exhibition and then produced sketches based on what they had seen. During the autumn half-term we ran a Family Friendly workshop where we got primary school age children creating and crafting.
The final day for viewing is December 8th.