Visitation up at Italian museums after reforms

In this Feb. 24, 2006 file photo, people look at the paintings of Amedeo Modigliani on the first day of the exhibition of works of this Italian painter and sculptor in Rome. The Italian Culture Ministry on Sunday, July 16, 2017, said that the number of museum visitors rose by 7 percent to more than 23 million in the first half of the year, more than 2 million more than the same period last year. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)

MILAN (AP) — Italy’s Culture Ministry says the number of visitors to Italian museums continues to rise two years after reforms that included opening top museum positions to foreigners for the first time.

The ministry said Sunday that the number of museum visitors rose by 7 percent to more than 23 million in the first half of the year, more than 2 million more than the same period last year.

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said the reforms, which also granted more autonomy, had boosted innovation “with immediate results, starting with a greater digital presence.”

The increase in visitation also has boosted revenues by 17 percent, to 88 million euros (about $100 million) in the period.

The top three regions were Lazio, which includes Rome, Campania to the south, home to Naples, and Tuscany.