The loan of a world famous sculpture to a town museum helped boost visitor numbers to record levels.
Rodin’s The Kiss went on display at Christchurch Mansion in Ipswich, after being loaned by London’s Tate Gallery for six months from November last year.
The mansion welcomed a record 61,282 visitors in 2018-19, up 46% on the previous best of 45,130 in 2017-18.
The free Kiss & Tell exhibition attracted an average of 5,500 visitors per month.
Carole Jones, museums service portfolio-holder at Ipswich Borough Council, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It’s proof that great exhibitions bring people into Christchurch Mansion – and our museum team are a huge asset.
“They are knowledgeable, committed and trusted by major institutions like Tate and the V&A to exhibit nationally important art works in our Ipswich museums.
“We are really pleased with the numbers visiting the mansion – Rodin’s The Kiss broke attendance records.”
There were 24,687 visitors at Christchurch Mansion between November and March to see the Kiss and Tell exhibition – almost 16,000 more visitors than in the same period the previous year.
School visits were up 30%, according to a council report, while visitor numbers also increased at nearby Ipswich Museum by 12% and 5% at Ipswich Art Gallery.
Rodin created three versions of Kiss, which depicts the adulterous lovers Paolo and Francesca, who were mentioned in Dante’s Inferno.
The first one was made in 1882 and the one owned by the Tate dates from 1900.
In August, an exhibition will open in Christchurch Mansion charting the Ed Sheeran’s rise from Suffolk schoolboy to international star and it is being curated by his father.