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NGV’s most popular show

Source:  “One’s a big hit, another’s below par”, The Australian, February 20, 2014

THE show cost $5 million to mount and features work by almost 400 artists from across Victoria. And yesterday the audience for the National Gallery of Victoria’s epic Melbourne Now exhibition hit 500,000.

The invention of director Tony Ellwood, Melbourne Now is probably on track to be the NGV’s most popular show – but since no entry fees are charged, it cannot be accurately compared with previous popular exhibitions such as those put on under the NGV’S Winter Masterpieces banner. And because the rambling display of popular, accessible and many interactive pieces is being staged at the Federation Square and St Kilda Road galleries, anyone who visits both sites will be counted twice.

A gallery spokeswoman says staff counted visitor numbers manually. This process also was used last summer, when 369,239 visitors were counted during the same period, equating to a 35 per cent increase in gallery visitors.

Melbourne Now opened on November 22 last year and will run until March 23.

Ellwood says in a statement: “We are thrilled this exhibition, which celebrates the exceptional creative diversity of our city, has appealed to so many people.”

At the other end of the exhibition spectrum, the numbers were tallied yesterday for the Art Gallery of NSW’s paid summer show America: Painting a Nation, which closed on February 9 after three months. The display of more than 100 works from four US collections was seen by 57,778 people, lower than expectations and far fewer than the 106,000 who saw AGNSW’s Francis Bacon survey last year.