When you visit a new city, you want to explore its art, culture, architecture, food, and history. And museums are among the most important cultural institutions in any city. Here we take a look at the top 10 most visited museums in the world. London has as many as four museums making it to the top 10.
Ranked: The most visited museums in 2018
The Art Newspaper revealed the visitor numbers for the most popular museums on the planet in the year 2018. The ranking is based on data from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and engineering firm AECOM’s Global Attractions Attendance Report.
The report includes history museums, art museums, science museums, and natural history museums. It doesn’t include historical monuments or archaeological sites. According to the report, museum attendance is largely driven by temporary exhibitions and facility improvements. But social media has started playing a bigger role in the last few years. Some museums have seen a jump in the number of visitors because of their celebrity ties and Instagram appeal.
10- American Museum of Natural History, New York City
The American Museum of Natural History attracted five million visitors last year, roughly the same as the 2017 attendance. It explores the natural world, our cultures, and the universe. The museum was founded in 1869.
9- Natural History Museum, London
The Natural History Museum saw an impressive 17.8% jump in the number of visitors last year. Its attendance in 2018 was 5.22 million, up from 4.43 million in 2017. The growth in attendance can be attributed to the reopening of its main gallery Hintze Hall and the addition of a new performance theater. It houses more than 80 million specimens.
8- National Gallery, London
The National Gallery in London was founded in 1824. It has a wonderful collection of paintings going back to the 13th century. Entry to the museum is free of charge. It attracted 5.73 million visitors in 2018, up 9.7% from 5.22 million in 2017.
7- Tate Modern, London
It’s a modern art gallery that opened to the public in 2000. It holds a vast collection of British art from the 19th century to the present day, as well as contemporary international art. The Tate Modern held a successful Picasso exhibition last year. It had 5.82 million visitors in 2018, down slightly from 5.9 million visitors a year prior.
6- British Museum, London
It was the most visited museum in London last year, welcoming more visitors than Tate Modern. The British Museum was founded in 1753, which makes it the world’s first national public museum. A little over 5.86 million people visited the British Museum in 2018.
5- National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC
The National Air and Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, United States. Established in 1946, it holds historic spacecraft and aircraft including the Apollo 11 command module and the Bell X-1 rocket engine powered aircraft that broke the sound barrier. It welcomed 6.2 million visitors in 2018, down from 7 million in 2017.
4- Vatican Museums, Vatican City
The Vatican Museums house art and cultural artifacts collected by Popes over hundreds of years. They welcomed 6.75 million visitors in 2018. By comparison, the total population of Vatican City is only about 800 (not a typo).
3- The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
While London is home to four of the top 10 most visited museums, New York City has two. Founded in 1870, the Met is the largest art museum in the United States. Its permanent collection includes more than two million pieces of artwork from around the world. The Met welcomed 7.36 million visitors in 2018.
2- National Museum of China, Beijing
The National Museum of China was named the most popular museum in 2016, but slipped to the second place last year. Established in 2003, it aims to educate people about the arts and history of China. It had an attendance of 8.61 million in 2018, up from 8.06 million in 2017.
1- Louvre, Paris
The Louvre is by far the most visited museum in the world. It welcomed 10.2 million visitors in 2018, up a staggering 25.9% from 8.1 million in 2017. The number of visitors to the Louvre was five times higher than the entire population of the city of Paris. It hosted the Delacroix exhibition last year, which helped it attract more visitors. But what truly worked for the Louvre was the Apes**t music video of Jay-Z and Beyonce. The video, which created a lot of buzz, was shot in the Louvre.