Historic year as record numbers flock to Leeds Museums and Galleries

12th May 2019

Leeds Museums and Galleries welcomed a record number of visitors over the past year, new figures have revealed.

Statistics drawn together from the city’s nine council-run sites show an astonishing 1,698,640 people came to take in a spectacular array of exhibitions and displays between April 2018 and April 2019.

The impressive figure is the service’s highest ever, representing a huge increase of approximately 23 per cent on last year’s numbers, when around 1.3m people visited much-loved locations including Temple Newsam, Lotherton, Kirkstall Abbey, Thwaite Watermill, Abbey House Museum, Leeds Industrial Museum, Leeds City Museum and Leeds Art Gallery.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “This wonderful news is a credit to the remarkable skill, boldness and creativity of everyone working at our museums and galleries. Their dedication has animated our historic sites and inspired a remarkable number of visitors of all ages from across Leeds and beyond.

“It is also testament to the very special place which culture and the arts have in Leeds and the city’s enduring enthusiasm for heritage, learning and discovery. Despite a challenging national climate for local museums and galleries, Leeds is bucking the trend because we believe that these institutions are an important part of our city’s cultural landscape both now and in the future.”

The news comes at the end of a landmark year which saw Leeds Museums and Galleries take centre stage in commemorating important moments in UK history including the centenary of the Armistice which ended the First World War and 100 years since the first women in the UK won the right to vote.

Highlights have included Abbey House Museum’s thought-provoking A Woman’s Place? exhibition looking at the changing roles of women over the past 150 years, and Leeds Industrial Museum’s Queens of Industry, which has rediscovered the enthralling stories of the women who were once the faces of the nation’s most prominent economic powerhouses.

Recently, Lotherton also launched a retrospective look at their first 50 years as a publically-owned museum as well as displaying catwalk designs by some of the country’s exciting contemporary fashion talent.

The last year also saw Leeds City Museum named the country’s most family-friendly attraction at the prestigious Kids in Museums Awards, with the site launching an exhibition exploring the stories of Michael Morpurgo, one of the nation’s most popular children’s authors.

The site’s Thomas Chippendale, 1718-1779: A Celebration of Craftsmanship and Design exhibtion was also a huge success, delivered in partnership with the Chippendale Society as part of the national Chippendale 300 programme.
Leeds Art Gallery has also been displaying a selection of incredible drawings by Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci as part of a nationwide celebration of his life and work, marking 500 years since his death.

And fresh off last year’s look at the estate’s rich history of beer and brewing, Temple Newsam has recently launched their new Fantastical Beast exhibition which delves into the magical world of myth, legend and monsters.


Kirkstall Abbey