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What's the big picture?

Internationally famous painting eyed as city counts tourist dollars

Published on February 3rd 2011.


What's the big picture?

THE almost finished Museum of Liverpool is within a hair’s whisker of sealing a deal to bring a painting to the city so important that it will attract visitors from all over the UK.

Museums boss David Fleming revealed the news yesterday, while cautiously predicting that the Mann Island scheme, the UK's first purpose-built museum for over 100 years, likely to attract 1.5m visitors in its first year. That is double the number anticipated when the Mann Island scheme was in its infancy.

While the new museum, due to open in July, will have free admission, there may be some occasions when a charge is made for important exhibitions

But teasing the media, including Liverpool Confidential, Dr F, slightly poker faced, had an ace card up his sleeve: the mystery painting. Mona Lisa? Mona Lennon?

Not a clue or hint passed his lips, so delicate are the negotiations. We will have to hazard our own guesses for the time being until Dr F can wave the piece of paper declaring a done deal.

Dr Fleming was among the team keen to spread the news of Liverpool’s every increasing importance as a city of tourism.

One thing Dr Fleming revealed was that while the new museum, due to open in July, will have free admission, there may be some occasions when a charge is made for important exhibitions, in the same way the Tate has successfully charged for its mega happenings.

His view is if the £72m Museum of Liverpool has the opportunity for international exhibitions, but the only way of making it happen is to charge an entry to those events, it will be considered. Whether the masses will have to pay to view the “mystery painting” remains to be seen.

Currently NML’s collection attracts 2.5m visitors a year. The Museum of Liverpool Life at Mann Island, which the new museum is replacing, attracted 350,000 visitors a year.

The Mersey Partnership briefing was to reveal importance of tourism and culture to the city region. The sector is expected to create another 2,000 jobs by 2012, adding to the 40,600 already dependent on tourism, leisure and culture. The value to Merseyside’s economy is heading for £3bn.

And just to show there is life after Capital of Culture, independent figures reveal the number of hotel rooms sold last year exceeded a million for the first time ever, beating the 900,000 rooms booked in 2009.

One key message is clear – as public sector jobs are axed, the campaign to attract visitors to Liverpool and its environs will continue unabated.

Around £200,000 is being spent promoting the 10-day Liverpool Boat Show (April 29 to May 8), using advertising in posh Cande Nast magazines, main London underground stations and the broadsheet colour magazines. JLA’s biggest flyers, easyJet and Ryanair will also help promote the show a cross Ireland and Europe.

TMP's director of visitor economy, David Andrews , was quizzed about the number of extra Chinese visitors attracted by the city’s appearance at the Shanghai World Expo. The opportunities are longer term, he said, claiming that a number of Chinese tour organisers were looking at including Liverpool in their itineraries.

The RLPO’s Michael Eakin said people in both Shanghai and Beijing were not only wowed by the world famous orchestra, but by LFC and, dare I say the B word – The Beatles.

One of the hacks fired a question about the level of service in Liverpool saying how some of her American friends had not been impressed.

Stephen Roberts, General Manager of the Crowne Plaza attempted to turn that one on its head. He had recently been to California for three weeks and though the service was appalling. Saying he was underwhelmed, he spoke of the mystique that America delivered good service.

He added that the Crowne Plaza is second in the UK and Ireland among its group in terms of customer service.

Next week, February 9, sees the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first ever gig at the Cavern. Between then and August 3, 1963, they performed at the Mathew Street venue 292 times.

Liverpool, it seems, is on a roll and whether its the Beatles , Beethoven or Boats, the tourists will hopefully be bringing us money. Yeah that’s what we want.

*Pictures of the new museum from a tour last week.

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6 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

We've Been FramedFebruary 1st 2011.

It's bound to be that rare picture of Nick Clegg signing the pledge promising to scrap student tuition fees. The caption says You Know When You've Been Clegged. If the picture is personally signed by King U-Turn Clegg it will be worth, oh at least £9,000.

Viv AriumFebruary 1st 2011.

Crikey! There's not much in this Museum of Liverpool, mainly empty space.

Just like the formerly glorious Liverpool Museums which have been transformed into a series of dull, empty playrooms called World Museums, a wasteful and lethal ˜atriums" and a few ˜interactive" entertainments for middle-class toddlers with loud, pushy parents to the exclusion of everyone else.

Whatever happened to the "university for the working man"?

Lin SeedoilFebruary 1st 2011.

If it's an internationally famous painting with a Liverpool connection it has to be David Hockney's 'A Bigger Splash' or perhaps the interior featuring local lad and fashion designer Ossie Clark, both of which are in the Walker Art Gallery's collection.

Mann IslanderFebruary 2nd 2011.

The new museum looks brilliant. It is going to win shedloads of international awards. I didn't think I was going to like it, but every time I go down to the Pier Head to feed the pidgeons I like it more and more. I'm also less bothered by those funny shaped black wedge buildings.

Ford AngliaFebruary 2nd 2011.

You'll be telling us you like that monstrosity called the Liver Buildings next. You are not sponsored by the Echo Editorial comment are you?

Lifelong MuserFebruary 2nd 2011.

When can we have The Transport Gallery back so we can see 'Lion' again?

'The Titfield Thunderbolt' hasn't been on telly for yonks.

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