Britain's Museums, Libraries, and Archives Council said the figures represent a 75 percent increase in visitors last year. However, museums that have always had a free admissions policy enjoyed only a 10 percent increase. Altogether, Britain's national museums recorded 35 million visitors last year.
Free admission to all national museums was instituted in December 2001. The outstanding performer under the new policy has been London's Victoria & Albert Museum, which is devoted to the decorative arts. It more than doubled its number of visitors last year.
"Our decision to invest in free admission was a success from day one," said Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. "Now, three years on, I am delighted that numbers continue to grow."