Hope the blue whale in Hintze Hall CREDIT Trustees of the Natural History Museum

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Record-breaking visitor numbers for the Natural History Museum in London and Dippy on Tour

Meanwhile the UK-wide Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure has broken records in every venue visited so far, reports ALVA.

The Association of Leading Visitor Attractions (ALVA) announced its members' visitor figures for 2018 today revealing the Natural History Museum saw an 17.2% increase in visits to 5,226,320, making it the fourth most-visited attraction in the UK. ALVA also revealed the monster impact of the UK-wide Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure which has broken records in every venue visited so far.

Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon says:

'These phenomenal visitor figures are a tribute to Hope the whale and Dippy the diplodocus!  In South Kensington, the reopening of our grand main entrance and beautifully reimagined Hinze Hall in which Hope, our 25-metre blue whale skeleton plunges from the ceiling, have attracted visitors in their millions. With new daily attendance records broken three times during 2018 we have worked hard to deliver reduced queuing times on busy days.

'An innovative programme has proved a draw for family audiences, including exciting events over the summer with the Roald Dahl Story Company and the LEGO Group and the first ever performance theatre built in one of our galleries hosting The Wider Earth, a play now nominated for an Olivier as Best Family Entertainment.

'The success of our iconic diplodocus cast Dippy in Dorset, Birmingham, Belfast and Glasgow to date has been beyond our expectations. He has broken records for visitor numbers in every venue so far with far-reaching benefits for the surrounding communities. The social and economic impact of his residencies has been astonishing – from attracting an additional 140,000 visitors to Birmingham’s City Centre – spending £4.2m in the city to a £2.25m boost to the local economy in Dorchester.

'Dippy’s mission is to spark natural history adventures, inspiring the next generation of scientists and citizens to explore, discover and protect the world around them. So we are thrilled that tens of thousands of children have been inspired to go on Dippy-themed adventures as a result of the tour.'


Natural History Museum visitor numbers

  • 2018 was a record-breaking year for the Museum which enjoyed its busiest ever December with over 416,000 visitors (a 10 per cent increase on 2017)
  • The Museum recorded three of the busiest days in its history – with just under 28,000 visitors on 30 December (27,964), 27,154 visitors on 6 October and 26, 735 visitors on 29 December
  • The exhibition of the Museum’s world-renowned photography exhibition Wildlife Photographer of the Year has already been seen by over 90,000 visitors – and is still open for another four months. (This is already an increase of 23 per cent in visitors compared to the previous year’s exhibition)
  • The Museum’s critically-acclaimed Life in the Dark exhibition (which opened in July 2018 and closed in February 2019) was seen by over 106,000 visitors

Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure visitor numbers

Never before on public display outside of London, the Natural History Museum’s iconic 26-metre-long Diplodocus cast, Dippy, is travelling the length and breadth of the UK until late 2020. Dippy on Tour: A Natural History Adventure has been brought about by the Natural History Museum, in partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation and supported by Dell EMC and Williams & Hill.  Made possible by close collaboration with a wide range of institutions and organisations across the UK, this three-year tour aims to introduce more than 1.5 million people to this awe-inspiring exhibit.

Dorset County Museum (10 February – 7 May 2018)

  • Dippy tripled the annual visitor numbers to Dorset County Museum in under three months with 153,189 people visiting him
  • Dippy provided a £2.25 million boost to the local economy. The impact of this spend contributed to a further £1.1 million in added value to the local economy
  • 25,000 people got out and about on Dippy-themed adventures in Dorset - thanks in large part to a fantastic partnership with the Jurassic Coast Trust

Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery (26 May – 9 September 2018)

  • Over a quarter of a million people visited Dippy making it Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery’s (BMAG) most successful temporary exhibition ever
  • Dippy attracted 140,000 additional visitors to Birmingham’s city centre – these visitors ultimately spent £4.2m in the city
  •  Meanwhile the popularity of the exhibition helped to boost BMAG’s overall visitor figures, with the museum attracting more than double the amount of visitors than during the same period last year
Ulster Museum, Belfast (28 September 2018 to 6 January 2019)
  • Dippy delighted over 130,000 visitors at Ulster Museum
  • The Museum also reported the highest number of visitors ever for an exhibition in a single day (4,200)
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow (22 January to 5 May 2019)
  • Dippy has already set another visitor record with just under two months to go. In the first six weeks he has been seen by the Museum’s highest number of visitors to date – more than 257,000 visitors - this figure is rising rapidly
  • It is expected that overall visitors to see Dippy across the UK so far will exceed the one million mark whilst he is in Kelvingrove

Remaining venues and tour dates for Dippy on Tour:


Notes for editors

Natural History Media contact: Tel: +44 (0)20 7942 5654/ (0)779 969 0151 Email: press@nhm.ac.uk

Images: Please download and credit according to file names.

The Natural History Museum

The Natural History Museum exists to inspire a love of the natural world and unlock answers to the big issues facing humanity and the planet. It is a world-leading science research centre, and through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling issues such as food security, eradicating diseases and managing resource scarcity.

The Natural History Museum is the most visited natural history museum in Europe and the top science attraction in the UK; we welcome around five million visitors each year and our website receives over 850,000 unique visitors a month. People come from around the world to enjoy our galleries and events and engage both in-person and online with our science and educational activities through innovative programmes and citizen science projects.

Dippy on Tour

In partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation

Established over 60 years ago in 1958, the Garfield Weston Foundation is a family-founded, grant-making charity which supports causes across the UK with grants around £70million annually. It has donated over £1billion to charities since it was established. One of the most respected charitable institutions in the UK, the Weston Family Trustees are descendants of the founder and they take a highly active and hands-on approach. The Foundation’s funding comes from an endowment of shares in the family business which includes Twinings, Primark, Kingsmill (all part of Associated British Foods Plc) and Fortnum & Mason, amongst others – a successful model that still endures today; as the businesses have grown so too have the charitable donations. From small community organisations to large national institutions, the Foundation supports a broad range of charities and activities that make a positive impact in the communities in which they work. More than 1,800 charities across the UK benefit each year from the Foundation’s grants. Garfieldweston.org

Tour Sponsors


Dell EMC, a part of Dell Technologies, enables organizations to modernize, automate and transform their data center using industry-leading converged infrastructure, servers, storage and data protection technologies. This provides a trusted foundation for businesses to transform IT, through the creation of a hybrid cloud, and transform their business through the creation of cloud-native applications and big data solutions. As a supplier of the Natural History Museum, Dell EMC technology has supported the work of its scientists for many years. Through Dippy on Tour, Dell EMC and the Natural History Museum have the opportunity to inspire the next generation of scientists and encourage them to engage with the natural world. The digital world has a huge role to play in this, and the web app Dippy’s Naturenauts created as part of this partnership, demonstrates the role online and mobile technology can play in encouraging people to explore the outside world.

Williams & Hill

Williams & Hill have built up a reputation for excellence by firmly establishing themselves as the leading ‘Specialised Transporter of Fine Art, Antiques, Design Furniture and Decorative Objects’. With a highly experienced team working for the world’s major galleries and exhibition venues – they have a true understanding of the requirements for methodical care, consideration and appreciation of whatever may be in their care. No two days are the same, and the excitement of working in their own ever changing art gallery never fades. williamsandhill.com

Tour venues and partners

  • Dorset County Museum is one of the leading independent, charitable, heritage organisations in the Southwest of England. It has a learned Society with 2000 members and receives over 47,000 visitors a year. Its diverse collections contain over 4 million objects including internationally significant geology, archaeology and literary collections. The Museum is a registered charity and operates independently with financial support from Dorset County Council and West Dorset District Council. In May 2015 the Museum was awarded £11.3million from the Heritage Lottery Fund to enable an ambitious redevelopment project. dorsetcountymuseum.org
  • The Jurassic Coast was designated England’s only natural World Heritage Site in 2001. Day to day site Management of the Jurassic Coast is the work of the Jurassic Coast Trust, a small independent charity with a huge remit.  The Trust works to inspire people to love, understand and value the Jurassic Coast, and was instrumental in bringing Dippy down to Dorset in collaboration with the County Museum. jurassiccoast.org
  • Birmingham Museums Trust is an independent charity that manages the city’s museum collection and venues on behalf of Birmingham City Council. It uses the collection of around 800,000 objects to provide a wide range of arts, cultural and historical experiences, events and activities that deliver accessible learning, creativity and enjoyment for citizens and visitors to the city. Attracting over one million visits a year, the Trust’s venues include Aston Hall, Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, Blakesley Hall, Museum Collections Centre, Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Sarehole Mill, Soho House, Thinktank and Weoley Castle. birminghammuseums.org.uk
  • Come face to face with dinosaurs, meet an Ancient Egyptian Mummy and see modern masterpieces with a visit to the Ulster Museum. As Northern Ireland’s treasure house of the past and present, the museum is home to a rich collection of art, history and natural sciences and free to all visitors. The Ulster Museum, part of National Museums Northern Ireland, welcomes nearly half a million visitors annually. nmni.com/um
  • Glasgow Life is the charity which runs services and facilities on behalf of Glasgow City Council. We work in every area of the city and with every community to try and inspire Glasgow’s citizens and visitors to lead richer and more active lives through culture, sport and learning. More than 18 million attendances were recorded to the facilities that we run across the city between 2015 and 2016. Glasgow Museums is the largest museum service in the UK outside London and operates nine easy to reach, accessible and family friendly venues across the city. We are open year-round and entry is free. Glasgow Museums house an extraordinary permanent collection of fine art, historic objects and natural history exhibited in some of Glasgow’s most stunning public buildings. glasgowlife.org.uk
  • Great North Museum: Hancock is managed by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums on behalf of Newcastle University. The Museum brings together the North East’s premier collections of archaeology, natural history, geology and world cultures under one roof. It incorporates collections from the original Hancock Museum, Newcastle University’s former Museum of Antiquities and the Shefton Museum. The Great North Museum is a partnership between Newcastle University, Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, Newcastle City Council, the Natural History Society of Northumbria (NHSN) and the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle upon Tyne (SANT). greatnorthmuseum.org.uk
  • Situated in the heart of Cardiff’s elegant civic centre, National Museum Cardiff houses Wales’s national art, geology and natural history collections as well as major touring and temporary exhibitions. On the ground floor of the museum, take an amazing journey in The Evolution of Wales from the very beginnings of time to the present day. The story begins in space with the Big Bang and takes you on a 4,600 million-year journey, bringing you face to face with dinosaurs and woolly mammoths along the way. Witness Wales's diverse natural history on an expedition that begins at the seashore and ends in the mountains. Experience some of the unique environments that make Wales home to over 900 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The art collection at National Museum Cardiff is one of Europe's finest and includes five hundred years of magnificent paintings, drawings, sculpture, silver and ceramics from Wales and across the world, including one of Europe's best collections of Impressionist art.
  • Rochdale Borough Council is a local authority in the North West of England which serves more than 200,000 residents. Sitting in the foothills of the Pennines and close to the major cities of Manchester and Leeds, the council is playing a key role in the Northern Powerhouse, and its priorities are people, place and prosperity. Link4Life is the Rochdale Boroughwide Cultural Trust, delivering leisure and cultural provision across the Rochdale borough, including the award-winning arts and heritage centre, Touchstones Rochdale. rochdale.gov.uk
  • Norwich Cathedral is a Christian presence in the heart of Norfolk and the Diocese of Norwich. It began, over 900 years ago, as the Cathedral church of a Benedictine Monastery, built to inspire by its sheer size and magnificence. The Cathedral continues to fill today’s visitors with a sense of awe and wonder. The primary purpose of a Cathedral is to be a place of Christian worship. It was at the centre of the monastery and the focus of the monks’ most important work, the worship of God. Norwich Cathedral is also the focus of both city and county life. As well as playing host to special civic and legal services, it is also a venue for concerts, talks, exhibitions, degree ceremonies and other community events. cathedral.org.uk