Len Lye Centre visitor numbers buck trend

Visitor numbers at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre remain steady.

Visitor numbers at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre remain steady.

New Plymouth's multi-million dollar art house appears to be bucking the usual trend with a steady flow of visitors to the gallery.

On Wednesday, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery/Len Lye Centre marked its 100,000 visit for its second year, only nine months in.

The figure was counted from the New Plymouth District Council's financial year starting July 1, 2016.

The same visitor mark was met only one month earlier in its first year, having clocked 100,000 people through its doors on March 18, 2016 after opening in July 2015.

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Expert in the trends of New Zealand's museums and galleries, Phillipa Tocker of Museums Aotearoa said following a big redevelopment, a new wing or the building of something such as the Len Lye Centre, visitor numbers would usually peak in the first six to 12 months.

"Then you would expect it to taper off," she said.

If Taranaki itself was experiencing a tourism boom then you would presume the gallery would be a part of that, she said.

"On the other hand the Len Lye Centre could be the driver for that."

But there were many external influences to consider when trying to determine whether the interest would become a long term trend.

Tocker said factors including the global financial situation and general tourism could influence numbers but if there was continued support from within the region those figures should continue.

"If those figures are continuing high then I would say that does suggest that there is continuing validated interest."

Personally, Tocker believed the stainless-steel temple was a huge drawcard for the region.

She said it was an asset and much more than you would expect in a regional centre.

"It really is on the international art map in a way that if you go outside the main centres of New Zealand there are very few others that would really even touch it."

Director Simon Rees said the art museum was proving to be a sustainable attraction.

With the art museum's opening year closing off with a record 151,000 visitors, he was initially nervous of recreating that same KPI success in the following year.

But he was now confident their goal would be well and truly met.

"We'll definitely exceed our year two target of 105,000 visitors," he said.

He said the strongest visitation remained local and was supported by the community bringing their visitors and families from elsewhere to share their pride in the iconic art museum.

Prior to the re-opening, the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery attracted on average 65,000 visitors annually.

 - Stuff

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