Richard Morsley, deputy director of Turner Contemporary, prepares to celebrate the one millionth visitor to the gallery
There is a lot to celebrate at Margate’s Turner Contemporary with a sparkling revelation today in preparation for the gallery’s millionth visitor due later this month.
Twenty bottles of award-winning Kentish Chapel Down “champagne” are being announced as the prize for the unsuspecting landmark guest when he or she walks through the doors in the next few weeks.
The Tenterden vineyard has also produced an unprecedented 15 litre Nebuchadnezzar from their Decanter Gold Medal and trophy winning Blanc De Blancs 2007 to celebrate the gallery’s runaway success.
News of the “bubbly” prize follows close behind the August launch of Turner Contemporary’s I Am One In A Million Campaign, centred on visitors sharing personal experiences of the gallery.
Turner Contemporary is also celebrating its huge boost to the regeneration of Margate.
Gallery deputy director Richard Morsley has highlighted the achievements and is urging people to support the campaign.
Visitor numbers previously forecast for up to now, since the centre’s opening in April 2011, had stood at around 350-400,000.
The reality of one million visitors has far surpassed expectations.
About 20% of visitors are from Thanet, 30% from Kent as a whole, 3% from overseas and a large number of the rest from London.
Mr Morsley said: “We are one of the most visited galleries and museums in the country outside of London.
"So far from our visitors we have generated £1 milion into the local economy. We support 130 jobs, both directly and indirectly and we have engaged over 40,000 people through our schools and families programme who otherwise may not have come to Margate.
"Most tellingly, of those visitors today, 28,000 people had never been to a gallery or museum before.”
Turner Contemporary was a world class gallery “absolutely rooted” in the Margate community, exceptional for the way it combined its exhibitions and learning programmes.
It had opened after 10 years “working tirelessly” to build an audience to engage with the visual arts.
“I think the big surprise has been the number of London specific audience we get,” continued Mr Morsley.
“Margate has always had a London focus and audience, it's an amazing, brilliant seaside location.
“Margate is changing rapidly. There are new businesses opening all the time.
"We have got the beautiful old town with a mixture of shops and restaurants, public rail has been really improved, there have been some really dramatic improvements since the gallery opened two and a half years ago.
"Excitingly, plans are still afoot for the opening of Dreamland in the next couple of years as well. I think the future for Margate is a very positive one."
Mr Morsley said the I Am One In A Million Campaign
was part of a big celebration on site, with opportunities for visitors to tell gallery bosses what Turner Contemporary means to them and to upload their images.