THE Tamworth art gallery has seen a boom in visitor numbers since it became home to the Archibald Prize last month and its hoped the interest will roll on.
The gallery more than doubled its monthly attendance numbers in December, the month it opened its exhibit on the prestigious portrait prize.
The last month of the year saw 4561 visitors take a look in the gallery.
It was more than double the attendance in November (2106) and October (1737).
It has come as no surprise to gallery director Bridget Guthrie.
We did anticipate increased audiences for this blockbuster exhibition, Ms Guthrie said.
Most regional galleries and museums schedule at least one blockbuster exhibition annually, and we anticipated that the Archibald Prize regional tour would appeal not only to local audiences but to potential visitors within a few hours drive of Tamworth.
The Tamworth gallery has been able to keep its Archibald exhibit free for all visitors, which is not always the case when the paintings travel regionally, thanks to sponsorship secured by the gallery.
The Archibald Prize will be on show until January 27 and Ms Guthrie expected the surge in visitation to continue.
One of the most prestigious art prizes in Australia, Ms Guthrie said the exhibitions household name was behind its pulling power.
Because of its history, importance in the arts community and the amount of media coverage it receives each year, the Archibald Prize has a fantastic reputation and its visit to Tamworth Regional Gallery provides a welcome opportunity for regional audiences to experience it first-hand, she said.
This year could be one of the biggest on record for the gallery with a significant milestone just over the horizon.
2019 is a very special year for the Tamworth Regional Gallery as we turn 100 years old, Ms Guthrie said.
The anniversary exhibition in June 2019 promises to provide a wonderful celebration of this history and fabulous exhibition events, even including some theatre.
The Exploded Textiles exhibition at the end of the year in partnership with the Art Gallery of New South Wales is also in place for ArtState Tamworth and showcases some of our best textile collection.