Museums and galleries in England enjoyed a record-breaking year for visitor numbers, new figures reveal.
There were 49.8 million visits to venues sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) in 2018/19, the Government said.
This is the highest number since records began more than 15 years ago, according to the DCMS.
The Tate Gallery Group, comprising five branches across England, is the most visited DCMS sponsored museum-body for the third year running, with 8.2 million visits.
The British Museum remains the most visited single site, with over six million visits annually.
And 48% of visits to museums were made by overseas tourists, the DCMS said.
DCMS sponsored museums make up seven of the top 10 most popular free visitor attractions in the UK, and the British Museum, Tate Modern, the Natural History Museum and Victoria & Albert were in the top 10 most popular art museums in the world in 2018.
Overall, visitor numbers at the 15 DCMS sponsored museums and galleries saw a 5.5% increase in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.
Arts minister Helen Whately said: “It’s been a blockbuster year for our museums and galleries. I’m delighted that they’re going from strength to strength and attracting audiences from all over the world.
“It’s fantastic to see the huge rise in the number of visits by children and young people – showing that our museums and galleries are doing a great job attracting new audiences and reaching a new generation.”
The numbers included a rise in visitors to museums and galleries outside London, with the DCMS reporting an 11% jump on the previous year.
Visits by children and young people also increased, accounting for 17% of the total number of visitors to the museums and galleries, the DCMS said.