BRISTOL’S new M Shed museum has had nearly as many visitors in its first six weeks as the former Industrial Museum had in a year.
The £27 million project opened in June, two years late and millions of pounds over budget, on the site of the former Industrial Museum by Prince Street Bridge.
But it is already looking to be far more successful than its predecessor, if the visitors numbers are anything to go by.
Between June 17 and July 31, a total of 116,474 people visited the attraction, far more than Bristol City Council ever expected.
By comparison, annual visitor numbers for Bristol’s Museum & Art Gallery at the Triangle are in the region of 400,000, with major exhibitions such as the wildlife photographer of year attracting more than 80,000.
The authority had predicted 250,000 people might go to the museum every year but now it’s revising those estimates to around one million.
As you might expect, visitor numbers at the weekend are higher than weekdays, often double or even three times as high.
Anywhere between 1,000 and 2,000 people have visited during the week, going up to between 3,500 and nearly 6,000 at weekends.
The highest number of visitors was during the weekend of July 16 and 17 – 11,571 in total – and there have never been less than 1,000 people through the door since M Shed opened.
Bob and Hilary Tudgee from Wells and their grandsons, Harry and Daniel Bell from Cheddar were the 100,000 visitors through M Shed’s doors on Thursday, July 28.
They were welcomed by M Shed staff and offered a complementary lunch in M Shed’s harbourside café.
Mrs Tudgee, said: “We promised to take our grandsons somewhere special – but we didn’t tell them we were planning to visit M Shed in Bristol.
“It was a lovely surprise to be greeted with the news we were the 100,000th visitors. We thoroughly enjoyed our day, such a lot to see and discover about Bristol – we certainly hope to come back soon.”
The museum has three main galleries, People, Place and Living, which look at the history of Bristol.
There is also a room that can be booked out for conferences or weddings on the top floor, a sweeping view of the Harbourside and city, and a temporary gallery for touring exhibitions.
Head of Bristol’s museums, galleries and achieves Julie Finch said: “M Shed is unique – it tells the story of Bristol through the people, objects and artifacts who have shaped the city we see today.
“We anticipated thousands of visitors in the opening months – and are absolutely delighted with the fantastic response so far.
“And, we have lots to look forward to with a major exhibition of Martin Parr’s photographs opening at the end of August in our top floor temporary exhibition gallery.
“So I’m confident our visitor numbers will continue to rise and rise.”
The higher-than-expected visitor numbers have been welcomed by the council leader Barbara Janke.
She said: “This is excellent news. M Shed is the city’s flagship museum and looking at the visitor numbers and the wealth of positive, supportive feedback it’s already a sure winner.
“Our investment in culture and drive to complete the regeneration of Bristol’s historic Harbourside is paying dividends with local people and visitors from across the region and beyond.”