Attractions industry news

19 Dec 2019

Attractions Review 2019: January

It's been another momentous year in the attractions industry and Attractions Management has been there reporting the big news all the way. Here, and in the days to come, we look back at some of the biggest stories, good and bad, that made our headlines – starting with January 2019.

There was strife to start the year in the US, with a government shutdown affecting the museum sector, while in Europe new replaced old in the Capitals of Culture programme, and there was some magic in the London air with a treat for Harry Potter fans...

Gringotts expansion to open

An April opening of the Gringotts Wizarding Bank expansion was announced at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.

The permanent addition allows visitors to walk through Gringotts Wizarding Bank’s grand banking hall, and past goblin tellers’ desks full of props such as quills, ledgers and piles of Galleons, Sickles and Knuts. They can explore the depths of the Lestrange vault, where the treasures of Bellatrix Lestrange, including the Sword of Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff’s Cup, are stored.

A new 17,000sq ft (5,180sq m) lobby and a 500-seat café serving food and drink inspired by the Harry Potter wizarding world was also unveiled.

Smithsonian losses

Bosses at the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum, research and education complex, reported that the institution was losing an estimated US$1m (€900,000, £760,000) a week during a US government shutdown that lasted from 22 December 2018 to 25 January 2019.

While the institution managed to keep its 19 federally-funded museums and the National Zoo that it also runs open until 2 January, using carry-over funds the previous financial year, those funds ran out on that day, forcing the Smithsonian to close the doors at all of its institutions.

Writing in USA Today days before the end of the shutdown, Smithsonian secretary David Skorton said the closure of restaurants, shops, IMAX theatres and other operations "is costing the Smithsonian approximately US$1m in revenue each week".

"These losses are not recoverable. They will have a lasting effect on our budget for this fiscal year and that effect grows each day," he said.

Cities of Culture

The cities of Plovdiv in Bulgaria and Matera in Italy embarked upon their roles as European Capitals of Culture in January, with Plovdiv becoming the first in Bulgaria's history to earn the prestigious title.

An honour bestowed by the European Commission, the European Capital of Culture initiative gives cities the opportunity to change their image, attract more tourists and rethink their development through culture. According to the European Commission, there are long-term beneficial impacts, culturally, socially and economically for those cities and regions selected.

Plovdiv and Matera took over from Valletta in Malta and Leeuwarden in The Netherlands, which held the titles in 2018. Both cities had planned extensive programmes of activities, including festivals, performances, exhibitions and community-based projects.

Check back with Attractions Management tomorrow for a look back at the highlights from February

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Shortlist revealed for National Railway Museum's Central Hall

Five proposals have been shortlisted for the design of the National Railway Museum's Central Hall in York, UK, which is scheduled to open in time for the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2025. [more...]

Eden Project announces £67m attraction for Northern Ireland

A new £67m (US$86.9m, €79.8m) cultural and environmental Eden Project tourist attraction is to be built along the banks of the River Foyle, near Derry-Londonderry, Northern Ireland, with organisers hoping it will help to bring social, economic and environmental regeneration to the city. [more...]

City council wrangles cause robust debate on Belfast Zoo's future

The future nature of Belfast Zoo is uncertain after a motion was tabled by a city councillor to phase out the display of caged animals and return the animals "to their natural habitats". However, the motion also envisaged transforming the zoo into a "world-class visitor attraction by 2025". [more...]

Niall McLaughlin Architects to design Somerset House auditorium and public space

Niall McLaughlin Architects have been chosen to design a new, multi-purpose auditorium and public space for London's Somerset House arts centre. [more...]

Smithsonian announces partnership with V&A East

The Smithsonian Institute has announced a new partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) that will see the curation of a new gallery at its V&A East campus. [more...]

Heritage Great Britain to invest £1.1m in Snowdon Mountain Railway

Heritage Great Britain (HGB) has announced plans to invest £1.1m (US$1,4m, €1.3m) in new hybrid diesel locomotives at its Snowdon Mountain Railway attraction in Snowdonia, Wales, in a bid to reduce its carbon footprint. [more...]

In brief:

UK's youth heritage programme wins new government funding @HeritageFundUK @DCMS #KickTheDust [more...]
World-first Duplo coaster coming to Legoland Windsor in March @LEGOLANDWindsor @mackridescom [more...]
London's Natural History Museum announces new strategy to tackle climate change after declaring 'planetary emergency' @NHM_London [more...]
Chessington plans rainforest addition @CWOA @AndersenPress @worldlandtrust [more...]
Welsh government to invest £60m in tourism @visitwales [more...]
3D printing could democratise heritage and help museums in repatriation debate [more...]
See you later alligator: plans announced for an alligator park on the Old Kent Road @AvantonL #oldkentroad #alligatorpark [more...]
Fantastic Beasts to go on display at the Natural History Museum @FantasticBeasts @NHM_London [more...]
Plans for the £337m ($438m, €394m) Museum of London (@MuseumofLondon), designed by Stanton Williams (@_SW_News), Asif Khan (@asif_can) and Julian Harrap Architects, have been submitted to the City of London Corporation. [more...]
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