World’s most-visited museums

Europe is the leader when it comes to MUSEUM culture, according to the 2012 Theme IndexThe Global Attractions Attendance Report prepared by analysts at Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM. Nine of the top 20 most visited MUSEUMs in the world split between London and Paris. The National Palace MUSEUM in Taipei (No. 12 on the list) is the most visited and highest ranking MUSEUM in Asia.

European MUSEUMs are, not surprisingly, dominated by art: some of the best art collections in the world are in major, international destination cities, such as London, paris, Madrid and St petersburg. In europe, a lot of MUSEUMs are free, and that helps feed attendance. It’s government policy that state-sponsored MUSEUMs in the uK are free, and they dominate the euro list. Blockbuster exhibits can add a lot to a MUSEUM’s attendance totals. The victoria & Albert MUSEUM in London recorded its highest attendance ever in 2012 and this was due to its special design exhibitions, including British design, hollywood costume and British ballgowns.

In North America, the most-represented categories of the top 20 MUSEUMs are science and natural history, followed by large, encyclopedic art MUSEUMs. While average science centers attract primarily resident visitors, the largest science and natural history MUSEUMs in North America shown on this list attract a mix of tourists and local residents. The leading art institutions, with their unique collections, are always a strong tourist draw. Some of the largest MUSEUMs in North America are free and part of the Smithsonian Institution. Many of the New York MUSEUMs on this list attract major international visitation, including the American MUSEUM of Natural history, the Met and MoMA.
In the Middle east and Asia, the role of MUSEUMs in driving tourism has caused a sea change in how they are perceived from an economic impact perspective. A world-class city must have world-class MUSEUMs, and therefore MUSEUMs are building blocks for cities such as Singapore, Macau, Beijing and Jakarta as they work to become top international destinations. china plans to establish 1,000 new MUSEUMs in the next 10 years, and by 2020 total MUSEUM attendance in china is projected to be 1 billion. The chinese government recently instituted laws mandating free admission to MUSEUMs in that country. MUSEUMs are slowly shifting from displays of antiquities to places with more visitor- oriented, interactive exhibits that make use of technology.


The top 20 global MUSEUMs by attendance in 2012:

1. Louvre, Paris, France, 9,720,000 visitors in 2012

2. National MUSEUM of Natural History, Washington D.C., 7,600,000 visitors

3. National Air and Space MUSEUM, Washington D.C., 6,800,000 visitors

4. The Metropolitan MUSEUM of Art, New York, 6,116,000 visitors

5. British MUSEUM, London, 5,576,000 visitors

6. Tate Modern, London, 5,319,000 visitors

7. National Gallery, London, 5,164,000 visitors

8. Vatican MUSEUMs, Vatican City, 5,065,000 visitors

9. American MUSEUM of Natural History, New York, 5,000,000 visitors

10. Natural History MUSEUM, London, 4,936,000 visitors

11. National MUSEUM of American History, Washington D.C., 4,800,000 visitors

12. National Palace MUSEUM, Taipei, 4,361,000 visitors

13. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., 4,200,000 visitors

14. National MUSEUM of China, Beijing, 4,100,000 visitors

15. Centre Pompidou, Paris, 3,800,000 visitors

16. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, 3,579,000 visitors

17. Victoria & Albert MUSEUM, London, 3,232,000 visitors

18. National MUSEUM of Korea, Seoul, 3,128,000 visitors

19. Geological MUSEUM of China, Beijing, 3,000,000 visitors

20. Science MUSEUM, London 2,990,000 visitors.


Top 20 Museums in North America:

1. National MUSEUM of Natural History, Washington D.C., 7,600,000 visitors – Admission: Free.

2. NATIONAL AIR AND SPACE MUSEUM, Washington, Dc,. 6,800,000 Free.

3. The METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, New York, NY, 6,116,000 Paid.


5. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF AMERICAN HISTORY,Washington, Dc, 4,800,000 Free.

6. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART, Washington Dc, u.S.A. 4,200,000 Free.

7. HOUSTON MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE, Houston, TX, 2,219,000 Paid.

8. cALIFORNIA SCIENCE CENTER, Los Angeles, cA, 2,000,000 Free.

9. THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, New York, NY, 1,800,000 Paid.

10. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF The AMERCIAN INDIAN, Washington, Dc, 1,600,000 Free.

11. MUSEUM OF SCIENCE, Boston MA, 1,500,000 Paid.

12. MUSEUM OF SCIENCE AND INDuSTrY, Chicago, IL, 1,500,000 Paid.

13. The ART INSTITuTe OF CHICAGO, Chicago, IL, 1,461,000 Paid.

14. CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES Francisco, cA, 1,400,000 Paid.

15. UDVAR-HAZY CENTER, Washington, Dc, 1,400,000 Free.

16. U.S. HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM, Washington, Dc, 1,400,000 Paid.

17. The J.PAUL GETTY MUSEUM, Los Angeles, cA, 1,300,000 Free.

18 The CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF INDIANAPOLIS, Indianapolis, IN, 1,270,000 Paid.

19. DENVER MUSEUM OF NATURE & SCIENCE, Denver, cO, 1,250,000 Paid.

20. FIELD MUSEUM OF NATurAL HISTORY, Chicago, IL, 1,200,000 Paid.

21. ONTARIO SCIENCE CENTER, Toronto, ON, Canada.