Wells Fargo day attendance strong

Uptown venues reported strong attendance Monday for the weekend's Wells Fargo Community Day celebration, which offered free admission to major museums and cultural centers.

Thousands of people circulated through the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, Levine Museum of the New South, Light Factory, McColl Center for Visual Arts and Mint Museum Uptown.

At the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Art + Culture, the center's second GanttFest attracted about 9,000 visitors, up from last year's total of 1,600.

Nearly 5,000 visited the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art and the neighboring Mint Museum Uptown counted 6,687, the highest daily number since the museum's two-day opening a year ago that attracted 17,000. "This was significant," said Hillary Cooper, the Mint's director of marketing. On an average Saturday, the uptown Mint gets about 300 visitors.

Discovery Place distributed timed tickets to avoid overcrowding and counted about 3,200 visitors Saturday.

Nearby, the Levine Museum of the New South counted about 1,500, more than seven times its usual Saturday attendance, said Ashley Thurmond, vice president of marketing. "Most were families and first-time visitors," she said. Sunday's sixth annual Day of the Dead celebration attracted about 900 more, she said.

Jay Everette, vice president of community affairs for Wells Fargo, said that up to 25,000 people were estimated to have been drawn to uptown for the events. "We were very pleased," he said. "Hopefully, we've been able to expose lots of new people to the venues."

Wells Fargo sponsored the celebration to mark the end of its takeover of Wachovia, which began in 2008. Among the events were the opening of the Wells Fargo History Museum on South Tryon Street, which focuses on the company's history and the region's gold-mining and banking heritage.