The loan of a world famous sculpture to a town museum helped boost visitor numbers to record levels.
Rodin’s The Kiss went on display at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, after being loaned by London’s Tate Gallery for six months from November last year.
The mansion welcomed 61,282 visitors in 2018-19, up by 46% compared to 45,130 in 2017-18.
The free Kiss & Tell exhibition attracted an average of 5,500 visitors per month.
Carole Jones, museums service portfolio-holder at Ipswich Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s proof that great exhibitions bring people into Christchurch Mansion – and our museum team are a huge asset.
“They are knowledgeable, committed and trusted by major institutions like Tate and the V&A to exhibit nationally important art works in our Ipswich museums.”
There were 24,687 visitors at Christchurch Mansion between November and March to see the Kiss and Tell exhibition – almost 16,000 more visitors than in the same period the previous year.
School visits were up 30% at Christchurch Mansion, according to a council report, while visitor numbers also increased at Ipswich Museum by 12% and 5% at Ipswich Art Gallery.
The 1882 sculpture Rodin’s Kiss depicts the adulterous lovers Paolo and Francesca, who were mentioned in Dante’s Inferno. The version owned by the Tate is a copy made by Rodin in 1900.
In August, an exhibition will open in Christchurch Mansion charting the Ed Sheeran’s rise from schoolboy to international star curated by his father.