The figures represent a four per cent increase on 2012/13 (47 million) and a record high since the first data was published in 2002/03. The ‘Sponsored Museums: Performance Indictators 2013/14’, an annual statistical release, also shows that nine million visits to the sponsored museums were made by children aged 15 and under in 2013/14, an increase of three per cent since from the previous year.

“These new figures highlight once again the public’s appetite for UK’s incredible culture and heritage, and the continuing appeal of our world-class museums and galleries,” said Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.

“The Government’s investment to guarantee free admission for the national collections, along with stunning exhibitions and permanent collections, means that our great cultural institutes can be enjoyed by all.”

The 16 museums and galleries sponsored by DCMS are:

British Museum, Geffrye Museum, Horniman Museum, Imperial War Museums, National Gallery, National Maritime Museum, National Museums Liverpool, Science Museum Group, National Portrait Gallery, Natural History Museum, Royal Armouries, Sir John Soane’s Museum, Tate Gallery Group, Tyne and Wear Museums, Victoria and Albert Museum and the Wallace Collection.

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