Herbert Art Gallery Ushers A Million Visitors In Three Years

Turner Prize Nominee 2011 George Shaw attracts record crowds

To celebrate the milestone of one million visitors to the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, in Coventry the gallery has commissioned a massive new artwork which is currently displayed in the covered court area. The huge 407cm by 407cm image is of the namesake and founder of the museum, Sir Alfred Herbert. If you look closely at it you’ll see that his face is made up of smaller pictures of people, exhibitions and events that have visited or taken place at the Herbert over the past three years.

The Herbert’s commitment to developing audiences has been noticed and rewarded with an array of awards and commendations. In 2010 they were a finalist in the prestigious Art Fund Prize, won national recognition as the UK’s best family friendly museum and were commended for their best use of Marketing and PR in audience development in the Museum Libraries and Archives annual awards.

Since its £20million transformation the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum has proven to be a bigger success than anyone had ever anticipated as local people passed through its doors in their thousands to engage with heritage and the arts at many different levels. A major part of the Herbert’s redevelopment was to create four new temporary exhibition spaces that could house touring shows and collections. This programme has brought world class touring exhibitions to the region in partnership with the British Museum, V&A, the Arts Council, and Natural History Museum amongst others. Each exhibition has been seen by tens of thousands of people from Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider region. They were also chosen as the venue to host the prestigious BBC History of the World exhibition displaying some of the region’s historic treasures.

The Herbert has developed its learning programmes for both schools and families which has resulted in the gallery becoming an essential tool for teachers and parents. 98% of Coventry schools have used the Herbert’s services to support their delivery of the curriculum; in three years over 45,000 pupils have taken part in the active learning sessions covering a range of subjects including ancient Egypt, wartime, art, sculpture and the History of Coventry. The informal family learning programme has allowed more than 40,000 people to utilise the FREE craft activities and play installations held within the gallery.”In the last year, we’ve engaged with 98% of the schools in Coventry… and the children are inspired by it. It’s a different way of learning something.

Similarly the inclusion team have worked in partnership with many different Coventry communities including homeless, deaf and other groups. This work, along with other contributions, has resulted in the Herbert having one of the most diverse visitor profiles of all the museums across the region. More than 300,000 people visited the museum last year, making it the sixth most popular free attraction in the West Midlands.Ludo Keston, the museum’s chief executive, said: “It’s been something we’ve been looking forward to the last few months. “We are delighted to have welcomed so many visitors during the three years that we have been operating the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. “With the investment, support and vision of Coventry City Council, Arts Council England and numerous other partners we have managed to touch the lives of nearly one million visitors in an inspiring, thought provoking and lasting way whilst becoming an integral part of the Coventry landscape.”As well as people coming into the galleries, we’re working alongside schools and more than 40,000 people use our craft activities during the school holidays.” ‘Connecting with families

The gallery is currently mounting an exhibition of Turner Prize nominee George Shaw between 18 November and 11 March 2012.  I woz ere depicts a series of paintings of the Tile Hill housing estate a local estate where the artist grew up. This collection of paintings is shown in the place they represent and many viewers will recognise the specific pubs, street corners, rows of garages, trees and shops. Image below © George Shaw

Scenes from The Passion: The Fall, 1999, copyright George Shaw, courtesy Wilkinson Gallery, London





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