29 June 2009

World's Most Visited Art Galleries

According to the The Art Newspaper 's annual international survey published in April 2009, The Louvre in Paris took the top spot as the world's most attended mus­eum, as you might expect. Centre Pompidou in Paris was second, then the Tate Modern in London, British Museum in London and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

Melbourne’s National Gallery of Victoria was the most visited art gallery in Australia. With 1.48 million visitors in 2007-08, it also ranked among the publication’s top 25 most popular art museums in the world. Since Melbourne (3.85 million) doesn’t have the population of Cairo-Tokyo-New York-London-Paris-Mexico City, nor the history of Vienna-Berlin-Paris-Rome-Jerusalem-London, this is an impressive feat.
National Gallery of Victoria, front entrance

When it came to individual exhibitions, Nara National Museum (850 ks west of Tokyo) won the 13th annual survey with a display of items from Shoso-in, the imperial treasure house of the Todai-ji Temple. It had an average daily attendance of 12,700 people. The Tokyo National Museum ranked second with a display of national treas­ures from the Yakushi-ji Temple. In third place was the Grand Palais Nave in Paris, a large exhibition hall which reopened in 2005 after long renovations. The Nave saw an average of 10,350 people per day for a display of digital art including film, videos and instal­lations. Madrid's Reina Sofia (which exhibition?) came next and a large-scale exhibition of Van Gogh's works made the Albertina in Vienna the next most popular gallery programme.


Dr Bruce Rosen said...

Yes, the Louvre is magnificent, but it is too big to take in one bite. Even after regular visits for the last ten years, I am still discovering new things (and losing old favourites).

My own personal favourites are Musée d'Orsay with its wonderful displays of both the impressionists and the post-impressionists, and the Musée Marmottan with its Monets, including some absolutely delightful caricatures.

Having said that, there are so many wonderful galleries in Paris it is really a question of what one's current favourite is - and that is likely to change with every gallery one visits!

Hels said...

Bruce I realise you were thinking about permanent exhibitions in the French galleries. But I wonder if you have ever been in French galleries (due to careful planning or totally accidentally) during a once-off, temporary, block-buster exhibition?

Sometimes I become really annoyed with the "circus" blockbuster exhibitions. Not because they appeal to thousands of people who would otherwise not visit the gallery, but because of the noise, crowds and rampant commercialism of the gallery shops.

But when we saw the Art Deco, Impressionists and the Dali blockbusters in Melbourne, to name just three, we could see the real enthusiasm that these exhibitions created. It is delicate balancing act, I suppose.

Viola said...

I know what you mean about the 'circus' exhibitions, Hels. They're usually worth seeing, however. I would have loved to see the Art-Deco. I'm looking forward to seeing the Whistlers and Singer-Sargent paintings on display here.

If I went OS more often I probably wouldn't feel the need to go to the exhibitions. There are so many galleries and museums in Europe!

Dr Bruce Rosen said...


Yes, I have been to some of the blockbusters in Paris and agree with your comments. However, sometimes there are temporary exhibitions that are sensational but don't seem to get the publicity and therefore don't draw the crowds. I remember going to Musee Picasso for an exhibition which looked at his influence on Francis Bacon. Not at all crowded, but that may just have been luck and arriving first thing when the gallery opened.

You're absolutely right about the balancing act. Whenever I am in Melbourne (about 6-8 times a year)I spend at least one day at the NGV and frequently go to one-off exhibitions so, I suppose, I am one of those "thousands." Seriously, though, as you suggest, it is not the crowds; which with good timing and a bit of luck you can at least partially avoid. Rather it is the commercialism of the shops; strategically placed so that you can't avoid them on exiting the exhibition.

I suppose it can be argued that they help provide the funds that allow the galleries to mount such exhibitions but they are still annoying. Or are we both being a bit snobbish about this?

Finally, (and I do ramble on...) thanks for maintaining such a wonderful site!

Hermes said...

Bristol City Galleries
Fitzwilliam, Cambridge
Tate Gallery, london
Lady Lever Art Gallery, liverpool

stenote said...

Interesting blog, it reminds me of Alexander Calder Exhibition in Paris. He cleverly constructed three-dimensional art works using wires which give impression of ‘drawings in space’. I tried to write a blog about it, hope you also like it: https://stenote.blogspot.com/2021/03/paris-at-alexander-calder-exhibition.html

Hels said...


thank you for the reference. I used to think that art works in an exhibition succeeded or failed by their own beauty. But you are right... the curators have a critical role, creating presentations that make the art works accessible and comprehensible.

By the way, your Beijing posts are very interesting.