Marvel to behold: GOMA declares 2017 a record-breaker

The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art enjoyed their busiest calendar year in 2017, with more than 2 million visitors walking through the doors. Courtesy: Brisbane Times

The Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art enjoyed their busiest calendar year in 2017, with more than 2 million visitors walking through the doors. 

Credit for the record year has been given to GOMA’s 10th anniversary celebrations as well as the blockbuster Marvel: Creating the Cinematic Universe exhibition, which has been described as the biggest exhibition in the past seven years by the director of the two galleries. 

Exhibitions by two of the world’s most renowned living artists, Gerhard Richter and Yayoi Kusama, have also received recognition for the outstanding year.

The previous attendance record in a calendar year was back in 2010 when 1.8 million visitors flocked to the Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA).

Last year was a significant improvement on the previous record, with more than 2.17 million guests heading to the galleries. 

“I think the real magic of last year was GOMA turns 10,” QAGOMA director Chris Saines said.

“We had a major exhibition celebrating the 10th anniversary of this great building. We pretty much kept the birthday party going for 12 months, so that helped.

“But we did draw in a huge crowd, which we then capitalised on with the (Marvel) exhibition, which opened in May.

“So we had a tremendous, unprecedented success – the best-ticketed exhibition in the gallery’s history. I think they were the two things that really set us up for a great year.”

Mr Saines said the display which came closest to matching the popularity of Marvel was the 2010 Valentino exhibition, which attracted about 230,000 guests and was the gallery’s first “serious frock show”. 

Arts Minister Leeanne Enoch said the state should be proud of the two galleries, with GOMA recognised as one of the best in the country.

“We’re able to attract visitors to Queensland because of our great environment, great tourism offerings (and) our great sporting events,” Ms Enoch said.

“But what we see also is great opportunities to engage in incredible exhibitions that are on offer here at the gallery.

“We now are the second most-visited gallery in all of Australia and that is down to the fact that we are changing some of the ways that people engage and see Queensland.

“I congratulate the gallery on its spectacular attendance, a reflection of its ability to create innovative and breathtaking experiences that welcome local, interstate and overseas audiences, and drive cultural tourism outcomes for our state.”

Ms Enoch said QAGOMA had another strong year planned, with the state government last year reinstating up to $10.8 million in funding over four years for more blockbusters and major exhibitions down the track.

Mr Saines said after 10 years, he thought people might have had enough of GOMA, but last year’s numbers showed clearly that wasn’t the case and reaffirmed the gallery’s status as a Brisbane icon.

“In September we unveiled our newly reconfigured Australian art collection with a display of more than 200 historical and contemporary works, including an extensive display of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander works, as well as major new commissions,” he said.

“Now that Picasso: The Vollard Suite has opened at QAG, and the Me, Myselfie and I interactive space has launched at GOMA’s Children’s Art Centre, we are so thrilled that all spaces in both buildings are open to the public.

“There is also still time for people to see Gerhard Richter: The Life of Images, which continues until 4 February, and to experience Yayoi Kusama: Life is the Heart of Rainbow, which is on until 11 February.”