The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum
welcomed its millionth visitor through its doors on Wednesday 14 December. Amelia Mansell, from Stratford upon Avon, attended the gallery to enjoy the Tiny Tot Explorers: Sensory Play session with her daughter Sophie.
Amelia said "I can't believe we're the millionth visitor. I booked to come here ages ago so for this to happen is crazy. I was shocked when they [the Herbert] said that we'd won. We love the Herbert."
In celebration of the Herbert's millionth visitor since its transformation and relaunch back in October 2008, Coventry Heritage & Arts Trust has commissioned a new unique piece of artwork that visitors to the gallery may even be included in!
The Herbert has compiled images from the last three years from every event, exhibition, workshop and performance it has held, as well as photos representing its collections and work with local communities, schools and partner organisations. These photos have been digitally composited to create an image of the gallery and museum's founder and great philanthropist Sir Alfred Herbert (see notes to editor). Anyone who has visited the Herbert since 2008 could find their own face within the work. This picture mosaic will be displayed in the covered court area of the gallery over the next few months and can be seen over the internet at http://www.theherbert.org/index.php/home/millionth-visitor-mosaic
Ludo Keston, Coventry Heritage and Arts Trust CEO commented "We are delighted to have welcomed so many visitors during the three years that we have been operating the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum. With the investment, support and vision of Coventry City Council, Arts Council England and numerous other partners we have managed to touch the lives of nearly one million visitors in an inspiring, thought provoking and lasting way whilst becoming an integral part of the Coventry landscape".
The Herbert's commitment to developing audiences has been noticed and rewarded with an array of awards and commendations. In 2010 they were a finalist in the prestigious Art Fund Prize, won national recognition as the UK's best family friendly museum and were commended for their best use of Marketing and PR in audience development in the Museum Libraries and Archives annual awards.
Since the £20million transformation the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum has proven to be a bigger success than anyone had ever anticipated as local people passed through its doors in their thousands to engage with heritage and the arts at many different levels.
A major part of the Herbert's redevelopment was to create four new temporary exhibition spaces that could house touring shows and collections. This programme has brought world class touring exhibitions to the region in partnership with the British Museum, V&A, the Arts Council, and Natural History Museum amongst others, with each exhibition being seen by tens of thousands of people from Coventry, Warwickshire and the wider region. They were also chosen as the venue to host the prestigious BBC History of the World exhibition displaying some of the region's historic treasures.
The Herbert has developed its learning programmes for both schools and families which has resulted in the gallery becoming an essential tool for teachers and parents. 98% of Coventry schools have used the Herbert's services to support their delivery of the curriculum; in three years over 45,000 pupils have taken part in the active learning sessions covering a range of subjects including ancient Egypt, wartime, art, sculpture and the History of Coventry.
The informal family learning programme has allowed more than 40,000 people to utilise the FREE craft activities and play installations held within the gallery.
Similarly the inclusion team have worked in partnership with many different Coventry communities including homeless, deaf and other groups. This work, along with other contributions, has resulted in the Herbert having one of the most diverse visitor profiles of all the museums across the region.