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How museum's poppies have left lasting legacy; It generated thousands of photos and thousands of pounds. DAVID WHETSTONE reports on the economic impact of a poppies sculpture at Woodhorn.

APOPPIES sculpture commemorating the human cost of the First World War moved thousands of visitors to a North East museum - and also gave a boost to the economy.

Weeping Window, comprising ceramic poppies to represent lives lost, had a "gross visitor impact" on the Northumberland economy worth PS1.8m when it was displayed at Woodhorm Museum at the end of last year.

The findings come from the firm DC Research which studied the implications of the huge increase in visitor numbers at Woodhorn while Weeping Window was on display.

The sculpture, taken from the installation Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red which was shown at the Tower of London in November 2014, was seen by 125,505 people at Woodhorn during seven weeks between September and November, 2015.

This was an increase of 119,000 visitors on the equivalent period the previous year and contributed to a 132% increase in visitors to Woodhorn during the whole of 2015.

The Tower of London sculpture, by artist Paul Cummins and designer Tom Piper, contained 888,246 ceramic poppies, one for every British and Colinial forces death between 1914 and 1918.

After the hugely popular London showing most of the poppies were sold but two significant parts of the installation embarked on a tour of other locations which bid to display them.

Woodhorn Museum was the first location for the one called Poppies: Weeping Window which it displayed as a cascade from an old colliery winding wheel which is now a scheduled ancient monument.

There it proved hugely popular with local people and others from further afield.

According to DC Research at least 12% of the visitors (9,867 in total) were from outside the region and stayed overnight, accounting for 40% (PS726,670) of the sculpture's economic impact.

The net benefit to the county, after deducting the visitors who might otherwise have gone elsewhere, has been estimated as PS817,799.

Admission to Woodhorn Museum is free although parking costs PS3.50.

The sculpture, which won The Journal Culture Award for best North East event of 2015, was part of the 14-18 NOW official art programme commemorating the First World War.

Director Jenny Waldman said: "We are delighted that the presentation of Weeping Window was such a success at Woodhorn.

"Woodhorn Colliery played an important part in the war effort, not only for coal production, but also supplying skilled miners for the front.

"As the poppies tour the UK we have seen their incredible ability to bring generations together to share stories of the First World War, and this was certainly the case at Woodhorn."

Penny Wilkinson, chair of the trustees of Museums & Archives Northumberland, said hosting Weeping Window had been "a tremendous honour".

She added: "The sculpture was a poignant way to remember the fallen, with over 2,000 men from Woodhorn Colliery serving in World War One and many thousands more from across Northumberland."

Coun Val Tyler, Northumberland County Council's cabinet member for arts, leisure and culture, said: "The poppies have an incredible ability to bring people together which was clear during their presentation at Woodhorn.

"The display is so iconic and seeing the flowers cascading down from the pit wheel was very special for our region."

Poppies: Weeping Window is due to open at Caernarfon Castle, North Wales, on October 12.

The other touring installation, Poppies: Wave, is on display at Lincoln Castle until September 4.

The display is so iconic and seeing the flowers cascading down from the pit wheel was very special.Coun Val Tyler

CAPTION(S):

Tom Piper, left, and Paul Cummins at Woodhorn

The Weeping Window poppy installation at Woodhorn by Tom Piper and Paul Cummins
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 24, 2016
Words:611
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