A CULTURAL attraction in Warwickshire welcomed almost exactly the same number of visitors in 2020 as it had in the previous year.
Compton Verney Art Gallery and Park was a beacon of light amongst the gloom of 2020, according to visitor figures of just under 80,000 for both years.
Despite covid-19, two major lockdowns and tier regulations, the Grade I Georgian mansion and grounds continued to welcome guests despite 20 weeks of closure.
In early 2020, with major exhibitions encouraging art-lovers along with its 120-acre parkland, Compton Verney looked set for another successful year. However, those prospects looked far from rosy when it was forced to close its doors to the public with the first national lockdown in March, less than a week after both exhibitions first opened.
Compton Verney Director-CEO Julie Finch said: “Although the main house was closed for twenty weeks and the grounds for eleven, the tenacious spirit of the team soon became evident.
“We realised we had to adapt our offer from a physical visitor experience to an online one. In the early days of lockdown our curators made a series of video tours that enabled people to see the exhibitions and learn more about them and our permanent collections. These proved hugely popular and helped us to considerably increase our presence on social media at the same time.
“When we were allowed to re-open our grounds, so that people could enjoy the positive aspects of being outdoors in a beautiful and historic landscape, we enhanced the visitor experience by holding the first outdoor event of the summer, a creative intervention of music, spheres and dance, and through commissioning the Birmingham-based artist Foka Wolf to create a new series of fun sign posts that were inspired by our renowned Folk Art collection.”
She added half-term and winter activities including a ‘firegarden’ and light trails encouraged over 8,000 visitors during December alone, at a time when it is traditionally closed for its winter break.
Compton Verney’s social media platforms saw increased engagement, with its Instagram reach more than doubling last year.
The upcoming season will see two major exhibitions by self-taught painter Mary Newcomb and contemporary artist Rebecca-Louise Law as well as activities and other events.
Julie added: “What 2020 taught us was that in a time of such crisis, people turned to art and nature. The sheer appetite to engage with paintings, sculpture and crafts, along with the natural world showed us just how important culture is and what an amazing resource Compton Verney is. With this in mind, the Mary Newcomb and Rebecca Louise-Law shows bring these aspects together and I hope once again serve to demonstrate that Compton Verney is a beacon of light amongst the gloom of these challenging times.”