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NC Museum of Natural Sciences tops "Most Visited" ranking

Monday March 4, 2013
Contact: Jon Pishney — 919.707.8083

RALEIGH — The North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences ranked No. 1 in the annual survey of museums and historic attractions for 2012, according to results released this morning by Carolina Publishing Associates, which compiles the data.  It is the first change in the top spot during the nine years of the survey.

The full text of Carolina Publishing’s release is below.

The announcement of this ranking comes two weeks after the Museum was named as a finalist for the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest honor for institutions that make significant and exceptional contributions to their communities.

Museum officials will hold a media availability at 11 a.m. to discuss today’s announcement and to unveil a poster that reflects the new ranking and will be displayed in both of the museum’s lobbies for the near future.
WHO: Leaders of the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences
WHAT:  No. 1 most visited museum and historic attraction
WHEN: 11 a.m. today
WHERE:  In front of the Rachel Carson statue outside the Museum’s main building entrance along the pedestrian (Fayetteville Street) mall

Sam Rogers – 704/708-6270, 704/724-9931


MATTHEWS, NC – March 4, 2013 -- For the first time in nine years the annual ranking of North Carolina’s most visited museums and historic attractions has a new leader. The newly expanded North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in Raleigh has replaced Asheville’s Biltmore as the most visited attraction.

Attendance numbers from 2012 show a total of 1,220,814 people visited the NC Museum of Natural Sciences while Biltmore attracted 1,123,144 guests. 

The NC Museum of Natural Sciences opened its innovative Nature Research Center last spring. Dr. Emlyn Koster, the Museum’s new director, noted that “We are thrilled to witness the school, family and adult appetite to get up close to the work of scientists.

“Science museums have lately been searching for new and successful ways to engage every stage of learning with the wonders of science as well as with its relevance to the changing opportunities and challenges facing society and the environment. It is imperative for this remarkable Museum to continue to pinpoint ways of combining its wide popularity with its external usefulness,” Dr. Koster added.

Charlotte’s Discovery Place finished third with 762,261 guests.  Rounding out the top five most visited museums and historic attractions were the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro with 761,964 and Fort Macon State Park in Atlantic Beach with 739,780 visitors.

The annual survey of attendance at North Carolina’s museums and historic attractions is conducted by Carolina Publishing Associates, the Matthews-based publisher of the Carolina Heritage Guide, Carolina Field Trips Magazine and the African American Heritage and Visitor’s Guide. 

Here are the top 30 most visited museums and historic attractions in North Carolina, along with their attendance numbers. 

1.NC Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, 1,220,814; 2. Biltmore, Asheville, 1,123,144; 3.Discovery Place, Charlotte, 762,261; 4. North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, 761,964; 5. Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, 739,780; 6. Marbles Kids Museum, Raleigh, 611,048; 7. Fort Fisher State Historic Site, Kure Beach, 564,269; 8. Wright Brothers National Memorial, Kill Devil Hills, 469,007; 9. North Carolina Arboretum, Asheville, 494,270; 10. Museum of Life and Sciences, Durham, 446,485.

11. NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, 444,308; 12. NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher, Kure Beach, 433,954; 13. NC Museum of History, Raleigh, 342,371; 14. NC Museum of Art, Raleigh, 288,032; 15. NC Maritime Museum, Beaufort, 286,504; 16. Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, Manteo, 283,177;  17. Natural Science Center of Greensboro, 280,755; 18. NC Aquarium at Roanoke Island, Manteo, 279,508; 19. Grandfather Mountain, Linville, 248,224; 20. Chimney Rock State Park in Chimney Rock, 212,436. 

21. Battleship North Carolina, Wilmington, 211,043; 22. NASCAR Hall of Fame, Charlotte, 184,771; 23. Schiele Museum of Natural History, Gastonia, 181,744; 24. Airborne Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville, 176,809; 25. Linville Caverns, Marion, 172,414; 26. Tryon Palace, New Bern, 172,073; 27. Mint Museums of Charlotte, 161,859; 28. Cherokee Cultural Attractions, Cherokee, 157,146; 29. Morehead Planetarium/Science Center, Chapel Hill, 147,825; and 30. Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, 138,105. 

Publish Date: 
Monday, March 4, 2013