Local News

Monet Exhibition Leaves Big Impression on Area Tourism

Posted January 23, 2007 11:33 a.m. EST
Updated January 23, 2007 6:21 p.m. EST

— 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.