MILAN (AP) — A record number of visitors attended the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale contemporary art show that put political engagement at the center of artistic dialogue.

The Biennale closed its six-month run Sunday with more than 615,000 visitors, up by nearly a quarter from 500,000 two years ago. Biennale President Paolo Baratta credited the success to French curator Christine Macel's main exhibition, "Vive Arte Viva," a growing familiarity with contemporary art and a desire to seek refuge from global crises.

Baratta cited "a growing desire to personally and directly discover the vitality of art in relation to the daily bombardment of sounds and images to which the world is subjected."

Culture Minister Dario Franceschini said this Biennale would be remembered "for the beauty and quality of its works."