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The British Museum
The British Museum


Aug. 18, 2011

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Guess what? The most popular tourist destinations in England are the country’s free museums. Number one on the list is the British Museum, where attendance rose last year by five percent, to 5.8 million visitors. Runners-up were Tate Modern and the National Gallery.

A new survey by England’s tourism board found that attendance went up five percent overall at art galleries and museums in 2010, which comprised the majority of the top-20 national attractions. The study divided institutions into two categories: those that charge admission and those that don’t.

Among destinations that charge admission fees, the number-one attraction is the Tower of London, with a total of 2.4 million visitors. Others in this group are St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Windermere Lake Cruises.

New York’s art institutions may want to pay attention. While the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art are busy raising their admission and suggested-donation prices, the English study found that tourism increased by six percent for free institutions, while it declined one percent for those that charge.

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