VISITOR numbers at Bournemouth’s Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum in 2018-19 were “a little lower” than the previous year, a report has said.

The museum and gallery attracted 38,926 people in the year, compared with 43,622 in 2017-18.

When visitors to the cafe were added in, the figure was 47,406 for 2018-19 and 50,365 for 2017-18.

A report to BCP Council’s Russell Cotes Art Gallery and Museum management committee says attendances in 2017 were boosted by free admission days at the venue. These marked an LGBT-related exhibition, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Arts by the Sea Festival, and attracted nearly 2,000 more visitors. There were no equivalent events in 2018.

The report said the venue had sold 525 annual tickets and 365 ‘friends’ memberships. “It is noticeable that after every special event, such as the Victorian Christmas weekend, membership is boosted. However, without the capacity to set up direct debits, maintaining numbers is always going to be challenging,” it added. Income from admissions and the cafe were on target, while the shop was performing better than expected. The venue expects to meet its income target of £644,500, the report said.