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Monet Exhibition Leaves Big Impression on Area Tourism

Posted January 23, 2007

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— The recent exhibition of paintings by French impressionist Claude Monet generated more than $24 million for the local economy -- about double initial projections, officials said Tuesday.

The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau said the "Monet in Normandy" exhibition at the North Carolina Museum of Art, which closed 10 days ago after a three-month run, injected about $24.3 million in tourism revenue into the Wake County economy. Tourism officials had expected an impact of about $12 million from the exhibition.

The exhibition set a new attendance record at the art museum, attracting 214,177 people from all 100 counties in North Carolina, all 50 states and five foreign countries. Fifty-eight percent of the attendees came from outside the Triangle.

"The 'Monet in Normandy' exhibition was not only Raleigh's biggest cultural event of the year, but it was a transforming experience for the museum and for the city of Raleigh, as the community came together to support an event of this scope and scale," museum director Larry Wheeler said in a statement. "The success of 'Monet in Normandy' proves that this area is truly a great place for the arts."

The exhibition received national and international media coverage, with more than 500 articles written about the show. Art enthusiasts said the numbers show Raleigh is a place that can support the arts and an event of this scale, and tourism leaders said the economic impact of a thriving local culture could be felt for years to come.

"As companies and others look to relocate here, for us to roll out that we had an exhibition of this caliber certainly speaks well to Raleigh and our region," said Martin Armes, spokesman for the convention and visitors bureau.

Businesses throughout Raleigh hosted a series of French-themed events, such as chef's tables and tasting menus at local restaurants, cooking classes, wine tastings, shopping, special hotel offers and a sweepstakes for visitors to win a trip to Paris.

"In my 10-plus years in the Raleigh area, I have never seen the restaurants -- and the entire community for that matter -- get so excited over an event," said John Toler, chef and owner of Bloomsbury Bistro. "I can account for a 20 percent jump in my business during the Monet exhibition."

The six hotels saw in Summit Hospitality Group also saw increased business from the exhibition, according to Sandra Benton, area director of sales and marketing.

"We benefited especially during the weekends and the final month of the exhibition, a traditionally slow period for area hotels," Benton said. "Given all the positive comments that we received, I'm sure that many of the visitors will be returning to Raleigh in the near future."

The exhibition easily outdistanced the $9.5 million in tourism revenue generated by the 2004 "Matisse, Picasso and the School of Paris" exhibition at the art museum, officials said. Also, the Stanley Cup Finals last summer had an economic impact of $5.5 million.
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  • Question Jan 23, 2007

    Vickiej40--I'm glad you saved your money if that's what matters the most to you. Those of us who were fortunate enough to experience this have great memories. I literally drug my husband and 8 year old twin boys to the Monet exhibit and they were enthralled. It was great!

  • Mo Jan 23, 2007

    Glad I didn't save my money for another Monster Truck event! I went twice and loved it each time...even with the wall to wall humanity. Amazing to see the techniques upclose. Also had dinner at the Museum. The food was wonderful and less expensive that a similar dinner elsewhere. I'll be back!

  • oldrebel Jan 23, 2007

    It's all about dollars, or as I heard one say at the exhibit..."Show me the Monet".....:)

  • calliphall Jan 23, 2007

    better oversold for the museum and the sake of everyone seeing it... than shutting people out (which some were because they couldnt get tickets). The exhibit was wonderful and I am sad to hear some of you are almost proud the museum did not "get your money"... ha

  • markedavis78 Jan 23, 2007

    Well it did get mine... It was a wonderful collection, however in an effort to turn a huge profit, it was grossly over-sold. I've never been to an exhibit that was even close to as crowded as Monet in Normandy was. I'm glad that so many people were able to see the art. It's a shame that you couldn't enjoy it they way a real exhibition is supposed to be.

  • freddie cadetti 72 Jan 23, 2007

    Help me understand this $24 million in tourism revenue. Break it down , it comes to $112.00 per person. Consider the locals who did not rent a room, or fly here. If they went out for dinner, they would have regardless of the exibit. Some of the visitors went twice, and if they were locals, that would even more negate the real numbers. Who came up with these numbers...the same ones who came up with TTA Train ridership, or the CIAA Tourney?

  • finallysingle Jan 23, 2007

    Well it didn't get my money!I actually got sick of hearing about it.