National Museum’s showing off with 2 million visitors in one year

The museum's Fascinating Mummies is currently drawing in visitors
The museum's Fascinating Mummies is currently drawing in visitors
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THE revamped National Museum of Scotland has been hailed a spectacular success after two million visitors flocked through the doors in less than a year.

A series of major exhibitions since the museum reopened last July helped make the Chambers Street site the most visited attraction in the UK outside of London in 2011.

Bosses said they were delighted with the popularity of the venue, having originally set a target of just one million visitors in its first year.

The figures are the equivalent of every resident in the Capital visiting the museum four times in the ten months since its £47 million overhaul was completed.

Dr Gordon Rintoul, director of National Museums Scotland, which runs the museum, said: “It is amazing. The popularity of the museum underlines not just the quality of the experience we have created but also its appeal to a wide audience from both Scotland and internationally.

“We find that people are coming from far and wide and returning again and again to revisit favourite galleries or take part in our innovative programme of events.

“The museum has quickly become both a well-loved favourite and a fantastic showcase for everyone who visits Scotland, and I am delighted.”

Major displays, including the current Fascinating Mummies collection of Egyptian treasures, have helped draw crowds.

The two-millionth visitor was Blathnaid Ring, accompanied by her twin daughters Sienna and Zara, five, from Richmond-upon-Thames in London.

The revamp of the old Royal Museum, which merged with next-door neighbour the Museum of Scotland to form the National Museum in 2006, took three years to complete, and saw extra galleries and exhibition spaces added, along with new underground entrances.

In total, 16 new galleries were opened in 2011, featuring 8000 objects, 80 per cent of which had not previously been on display.

Last year museum chiefs said the makeover restored it to its original glory and created “one of the world’s great museums”.

Since reopening, it has won the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Best Building in Scotland award, two Civic Trust awards, and the Museums & Heritage Award for Excellence for the quality of the displays.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “With fascinating collections showcased in magnificent, award-winning surroundings, the National Museum of Scotland is undoubtedly one of the jewels in Scotland's cultural crown.

“To reach two million visitors in [ten months] is a truly exceptional achievement.”