British Museum gets record 6.7m visitors for 2013

A comic mask mosaic, one of the exhibits in "Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum The Pompeii exhibition featured artefacts from daily life in the Roman city

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The British Museum has had its most successful year to date with 6.7m visits, up 20% on 2012 and beating 2008's previous record of six million.

The British Museum's website also had 47% more traffic, with 19.5m visits.

The museum's busiest day of 2013 was Friday 16 August, with 33,848 visits and the busiest month on record was July, with 747,936 visits.

Popular exhibitions included Pompeii, which ran from March to September 2013, plus Ice Age Art and Shunga.

Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum was seen by more than 471,000 visitors and achieved its visitor target of 250,000 just three months into its six-month run.

Shunga The Shunga exhibition got 87,893 visitors in three months

It opened in March last year, by which time it had already had more than 45,600 tickets booked through advance sales. It was the most successful pre-opening exhibition since 2007's The First Emperor: China's Terracotta Army.

Pompeii also featured the first live cinema event produced by the museum, which offered an exclusive private view of the exhibition. It was shown in 281 venues across the UK and was seen by 53,885 cinema-goers including more than 13,600 school children.

It has since been shown as a recording internationally to more than 1,000 cinemas across 51 countries worldwide, with an audience of more than 36,000.

'Global citizenship'

The museum's director, Neil MacGregor, said: "I am delighted that so many people have visited the world collection at the British Museum in the last year.

"Displays onsite, loans and touring exhibitions nationally and internationally, big screen viewings and online access mean this is truly a dynamic collection that belongs to and is used by a global citizenship".

Pompeii was also the third-most popular exhibition in the museum's history, with Tutankhamun getting 1.6 million visitors in 1972 and the Terracotta Army getting 850,000.

Shunga: Sex and pleasure in Japanese art attracted 87,893 visitors in three months by the time it closed in January 2014, while Ice Age Art closed in June with more than 90,000 visitors - a 133% increase on its target of 40,000.

The museum is also to screen Vikings Live in more than 340 UK cinemas on 24 April 2014 and a pre-recorded cinema event for schools, Vikings Adventures, will be screened in June.

They are part of its Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition running from 6 March to 22 June 2014.

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