A £26 MILLION arts venue that attracted controversy when it opened eight years ago, has just celebrated its millionth visitor.

Colchester's Firstsite, made famous for its 'Golden banana'-like appearance, has since diversified from a gallery to become an arts and community venue.

Essex University student Claudia Sanchez Ral, from Colchester, was its millionth visitor on Friday.

Firstsite director Sally Shaw said: “It’s hard to imagine what one million people looks like, but it’s roughly the population of a city the size of Rotterdam or 23 times the number of people who ran the London marathon this year.

"I can’t wait to meet our two millionth visitor in 2026 and see all the amazing artworks and exhibitions we will present between now and then.”

To commemorate her visit, Claudia, 21, will have a painting created especially for her, depicting a person or scene of her choice.

She was also presented with a Firstsite film pass for a year and a certificate to mark the occasion.

A plaque will also be put up inside the gallery, commemorating her Firstsite’s one millionth visitor.

The Firstsite building was designed by the Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly, after his proposal was chosen from more than 100 entries in a worldwide architectural competition.

The last three years have seen more than 100,000 visitors per year.

The public-funded building attracted controversy after opening four years late and at least £10million over budget.