This year, The Art Newspaper released their annual visitor figures for galleries the world over. It revealed that Tate Modern attracted almost 5.9 million visitors throughout 2018, a whopping 600,000 more than the British Museum, which had, for the best part of a decade, been Britain’s most visited museum or gallery space.
It was an extraordinary achievement for Tate Modern, a space originally built to accommodate 2 million visitors annually.
Beyond Tate Modern, Tate as an overall organisation has grown to become the most important institution in British cultural life. Its success in London has spread to its galleries elsewhere in the country: Last year, more than 600,000 went to Tate Liverpool, in comparison to 400,000 visiting Turner Contemporary in Margate or 200,000 visitors to Nottingham Contemporary.
The figures emerged at a time of change for the organisation. In May of 2017, Tate’s long term and respected director, Nicholas Serota, departed Tate to become Chair at Arts Council England.