Friday, July 31, 2009

Recession fuels attendance of artist sites and historic homes

In the UK and the US, visitor numbers to National Trust properties and artist homes have seen a sharp rise. “There is definitely something in the air, with growing numbers seeking out the simple pleasures offered by the National Trust,” says Fiona Reynolds, director general of the UK-based National Trust. Total visitors received in May were 1.98m, an eight per cent increase from the same month last year. Overall, attendance has climbed 24 per cent so far versus 2008.

In the UK, children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter’s home Hill Top in the Lake District wins hands down for highest visitor numbers for any artist or writer’s property. Last year, her home attracted 106,576 visitors compared with 64,584 the previous year (boosted by the 2007 film “Miss Potter”). A UK National Trust spokesperson reports other such homes attracting steep interest, including John Lennon’s childhood home, Mendips in Liverpool, T.E. Lawrence’s home, Clouds Hill in Dorset, and William Morris’s Red House in Surrey.

“There’s a recalibration of consumer spending from buying a bigger house or jazzy designer handbag to now focusing on cultural experiences instead,” says Ms MacLear. She has found that visitors characterise the Glass House as “inspiring”. Artists Julian Schnabel, Jasper Johns, Cindy Sherman and Frank Stella have all visited within the past year.

Meanwhile in the UK, the National Trust membership has hit a growth spurt at double the rates of the previous year. So far in 2009, 10,000 new members have been added.

Above: Beatrix wrote many of her famous children's stories in this little 17th century stone house. Characters such as Tom Kitten, Samuel Whiskers and Jemima Puddleduck were all created here, and the books contain many pictures based on the house and garden.[pict.]

Art History Newspaper

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