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Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums in the World

Updated on January 15, 2015
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Katherine loves art history and visits art galleries and museums on a regular basis. She also writes exhibition reviews.

Do you know which are the most popular art galleries and museums?

Find out which are the top ten art galleries and museums in the world - based on visitor numbers in 2013 - and how to visit them in person or virtual reality.

Find out the answers to:

  • Which is the top museum in the world - and year after year?
  • Which is top art gallery in the USA?
  • Which is the city with the most art galleries and museums in the top 10?

You will also find this site useful if you if you are a tourist and travelling to a new country and want to know more about its famous art galleries and museums.

The list is based on the The Art Newspaper's annual review of art galleries and museums and the exhibitions held around the world in 2013. The full article is extremely detailed and covers many more museums. It's very much a recommended read for those interested in visiting exhibitions and museums and art galleries.

The Art Museum
The Art Museum
Hardcover: 992 pages Publisher: Phaidon Press (October 17, 2011)
 

The Art Museum

RECOMMENDED - For people who enjoy art but can't get to these museums...

Rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars based on 73 customer ratings plus 50 customer reviews

I was given this book for Christmas. It's extremely comprehensive and the reproduction is good. It has great recommendations too - from a wide variety of publications

"This revolutionary and unprecedented virtual art museum in a book, features 1,000 oversized pages of over 2,700 works of art. It is the most comprehensive and visually spectacular history of world art ever published."

However it's the biggest and heaviest art book I've ever handled and it's not that easy to view the pages. Its enormous size also makes it hugely expensive - however it is quite unlike any other book about the works of art in museums that you have ever seen before.

The book took ten years to put together. It's designed to be accessible and valued by both experts and people new to art. That's once they've found a method for reading the book given its size and weight!

#1 Museum - Louvre in Paris - 9.334 million visitors in 2013 - and the top art museum in the world

Entering the Louvre Museum
Entering the Louvre Museum | Source

THE LOUVRE IS THE TOP ART MUSEUM IN THE WORLD - AND FRANCE.

More people visit this museum than any other museum in the world. In 2013, 9,334,000 people visited the Louvre Museum in Paris (down from 9,720,260 in 2012)

Prior to this the museum had consistently reported 8.5 million visitors in 2008, 2009, 20010 and 2011! It was certainly very odd how visitors numbers were identical in all four years! The Louvre now counts its visitors more accurately revealing rather more than in previous years!

Check out my website below for a guide to its enormous collection and its enormous website

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The Louvre, Paris, France:
Louvre Museum, 75001 Paris, France

get directions

Reviews of the Louvre Museum - the most famous art gallery in the world

Below you can click a link to read reviews by people who have visited the Louvre Museum. The ones I usually look at first are Trip Advisor (to which I contribute under another name) and Lonely Planet.

The Louvre: All the Paintings
The Louvre: All the Paintings
Hardcover: 784 pages Publisher: Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers (November 15, 2011)
 

BOOK: The Louvre: All the Paintings - book on Amazon

RECOMMENDED - especially for all those who have visited Louvre and left knowing they'd only begun to scrape the surface of the collections.

Rated an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars based on 340 customer ratings | 154 customer reviews

This book documents all 3,022 paintings currently on display in the permanent collection of the Louvre.

  • Each painting is annotated with the name of the painting and artist, the date of the work, the birth and death dates of the artist, the medium that was used, the size of the painting, the Louvre catalog number, and the room in the Louvre in which the painting is found.
  • All paintings are also available on a DVD that you can browse by artist, date, school, art historical genre, or location in the Louvre.
  • The DVD also enables you to do a virtural tour the Louvre and its contents room by room

The British Museum in Great Russell Street by W Simpson after E Walker, published 1852

The British Museum in Great Russell Street by W Simpson after E Walker, published 1852
The British Museum in Great Russell Street by W Simpson after E Walker, published 1852

#2 British Museum in London - 6.7 million visitors in 2013

THIS IS THE TOP BRITISH MUSEUM

  • 2013: ranked #2 with 6,701,036 visitors
  • 2012: ranked #3 with 5,575,946 visitors
  • 2011: ranked #3 with 5,848,534 visitors
  • 2010: ranked #2 with 5.842 million visitors
  • 2009: ranked #2 with 5.57 million visitors
  • 2008: ranked #2 with 5.93 million visitors

In 2011, the British Museum failed to grow its visitors in any significant way and was overtaken by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The British Museum is beginning to get into social media

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British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG:
The British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG, UK

get directions

BOOK: A History of the World in 100 Objects - by Dr Neil MacGregor

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Rated an average of:

  • 4.6 out of 5 stars by 238 customer reviews (UK) - PLUS #1 Best Seller in Art Encyclopaedias
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars based on 98 customer ratings | 144 customer reviews (USA)

"An intellectual and visual feast, it is one of the most engrossing and unusual history books published in years."

This book, written by the Director of the British Museum, became a huge success after it was serialised on the BBC.

London (The Art Guide)

London
London
Paperback: 240 pages Publisher: Thames & Hudson (April 1, 2011)
 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: I've got a copy of this guide and I think it's quite possibly the best one I've yet seen covering art in London. It has excellent maps of where all the museums and galleries are and include some which often don't get featured in some of the more "popular" guides.

This is a fully illustrated guide to the riches of over 100 of London's museums and galleries. It focuses on the best in the city's collections to create an easily navigable, narrative history of art. The guides unique approach allows you to locate your favourite artist or style of art in any museum and follow this throughout the museums of London.

Amazon reviews (Amazon UK): 4.3 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews) | Like (8)

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

#3 Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York - 6.2 million visitors in 2013 - and the top art museum in the USA

This is the TOP AMERICAN ART MUSEUM.

  • 2013: ranked #3 with 6,226,727 visitors - an increase in visitors but a drop in ranking
  • 2012: ranked #2 with 6,115,881 visitors
  • 2011: ranked #2 with 6,004,254 visitors
  • 2010: ranked #3 with 5.217 million visitors
  • 2009: ranked #3 with 4.89 million visitors
  • 2008: ranked #5 with 4.82 million visitors

The Metropolitan Museum of Art managed to grow its visitor numbers very significantly in 2011 due to the the "must-see" the posthumous tribute exhibition Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty and moved up to #2 ranking. It managed to hold onto that ranking in 2012 - but it's still some way off #1!

Interestingly in 2012, the Met failed to have an exhibition in the top 20 exhibitions in the world. Its top exhibition was "The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde" which had 323,792 visitors

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Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York:
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY 10028, USA

get directions

Information about the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave, New York City, New York 10028

You certainly need to plan ahead if you plan to visit this Museum - it has over 2 million works of art and not all the works are accessible to the public due to refurbishment

Reviews of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

Find out what other people think about the Met. Museum of Art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide
Paperback: 456 pages Publisher: Metropolitan Museum of Art (April 24, 2012)
 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide

RECOMMENDED - This is the definitive NEW edition of the Guide to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Rated an average of 4.7 out of 5 stars by 23 customer ratings | 6 customer reviews

It's actually the first new edition in thirty years! It's was written by the Director of the Museum and his staff. 600 items in the collections are highlighted to provide an insight into the span and nature of the objects in the Museum

Guide to the Art Museums of New York: The guide that explains the art
Guide to the Art Museums of New York: The guide that explains the art
Author: David Lawrence Morton Paperback: 300 pages Publisher: ArtGuide Publications, LLC (April 22, 2009)
 

Guide to the Art Museums of New York

This is the guide which explains the art to see in New York - and where to see it. If you want just one guide to the art galleries and museums of New York this is the one!

Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

It features:

  • information on hours of admission and facilities
  • room-by-room guides through the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Frick Museum, Whitney Museum, Guggenheim Museum, and Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • identifies and discusses over 358 works of art and the 152 artists who created them
  • provides the information needed for quick visits to a museum

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square

#4 National Gallery in London - 6.0 million visitors in 2013

The National Gallery in London free to visit and is invariably busy all day long.
The number of visitors to The National Gallery in London - and its ranking - have oscillated in recent years.

  • 2013: ranked #4 with 6,031,574 visitors - a significant increase in visitors and an increase in rank
  • 2012: ranked #5 with 5,163,902 visitors
  • 2011: ranked #4 with 5,253,216 visitors
  • 2010: ranked #5 with 4.955 million visitors
  • 2009: ranked #4 with 4.78 million visitors
  • 2008: ranked #6 with 4.5 million visitors

In 2013, it reversed the reduction in visitors in 2012 (due to the Olympics) and got back on track with the overall trend of increasing visitor numbers every year since 2008 probably helped by the recession/exchange rates which has made the UK a good place to visit!.

In 2013 it regained its position as top dedicated art museum in the UK. However the competition with Tate Modern continues......

Basics for Visitors

  • Address: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN
  • Opening Hours: Opening hours: Daily 10am - 6pm, Friday 10am - 9pm
  • Admission: FREE (some priced exhibitions)
  • Nearest Tubes: Charing Cross, Embankment, Leicester Square

A few things which are worth knowing

  • it's a very big gallery and it's worth planning a route before you start. (Note: it takes me about half an hour to give friends the high speed tour of the highlights!)
  • if you've got a severe case of a need to sit down and rest there are some wonderful leather couches as well as wonderful art in Rooms 32 and 34

  • not all galleries are open everyday so it's worth checking out when you arrive which ones are closed

  • the guards have a nasty habit of shutting down galleries well in advance of the official closure time so make sure you allow for this when visiting

  • I've eaten in all the facilities in the Gallery and they're all OK. The National Dining Rooms in the Sainsbury Wing is a nice place to go to meet friends for a leisurely lunch

  • The best shopping facility by far is in the Sainsbury Wing - where you can buy books, posters, prints postcards etc - read my Art Bookshop Review: The National Gallery Bookshop

  • For some reason the guards in the National gallery seem to go on strike far more than in any other museum. However management always posts known strike dates on the website so do make sure you check before you visit.

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National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN:
The National Gallery, London WC2N 5DN, UK

get directions

Sketching the Monets in the National Gallery

Sketching the Monets in the National Gallery
Sketching the Monets in the National Gallery | Source

Reviews of the National Gallery in London - review the reviews!

Take a look at some of the reviews on the sites below to get a general overview of the National Gallery in London

The National Gallery Companion Guide: Revised and Expanded Edition (National Gallery London Publications)
The National Gallery Companion Guide: Revised and Expanded Edition (National Gallery London Publications)
Paperback: 352 pages Publisher: Yale University Press; New Ed edition (1 Jun 2007)
 

The National Gallery Companion Guide

This is the Revised and Expanded "Companion Guide". Altogether it's sold over 200,000 copies world wide since it was first published in 1994.

The book highlights over 200 paintings from what is considered by many to be one of the most impressive collections of western and European paintings in the World.

Vatican Museums, Vatican City

Vatican Museums Courtyard.
Vatican Museums Courtyard. | Source

#5 Vatican Museums - 5.4 million visitors in 2013

The Vatican Museums are a complex of museums within the Vatican City. They are notable for featuring artwork by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael and Michelangelo. The best know is probably Michelangelo's ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. They are also notable for being some of the first museums which were opened to the public by the 'sovereigns' of the territory

  • 2013: ranked #5 with 5,459,000 visitors
  • 2012: ranked #6 with 5,064,546 visitors

(Previously the Museums have for some reason been left out of the survey - however TripAdvisor identified them as being the second most popular art museum in the world!)

The museums comprise:

  • Pio Clementino Museum
  • Chiaramonti Museum
  • New Wing
  • Gregoriano Profano Museum
  • Gregorian Egyptian Museum
  • Gregorian Etruscan Museum
  • Ethnological Museum
  • Sistine Chapel
  • Raphael's Rooms
  • Pinacoteca

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Vatican Museum, Vatican City:
Vatican City

get directions

Tate Modern from the Millenium Bridge

Tate Modern from the Millenium Bridge
Tate Modern from the Millenium Bridge | Source

#6 Tate Modern in London - 4.9 million visitors in 2013

Tate Modern is the sixth most popular art museum in the world and the top contemporary art museum in the UK and the world.

  • 2013: Ranked #6 in the world with 4,884,939 visitors in 2013 - a very significant drop in numbers in 2013 and a loss of two places
  • 2012: Ranked #4 in the world with 5,304, 710 visitors in 2012
  • 2011: Ranked #5 in the world with 4,802,287 visitors in 2011
  • 2010: Ranked #4 in the world with 5.061 million visitors in 2010
  • 2009: Ranked #5 in the world with 4.747 million visitors in 2009
  • 2008: Ranked #4 with 4.95 million visitors

2012 saw a massive increase in visitors. Its top exhibition was "Damien Hirst" with 463,087 visitors

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London SE1 9TG, United Kingdom:
London SE1 9TG, UK

get directions

Tate Modern The Handbook: Revised Edition

Tate Modern The Handbook: Revised Edition
Tate Modern The Handbook: Revised Edition
Includes an illustrated A-to-Z guide of more than 100 artists
 
Naked Emperors: criticisms of English contemporary art
Naked Emperors: criticisms of English contemporary art
Paperback Publisher: Quartet Books Ltd (October 31, 2012)
 

Naked Emperors - by Brian Sewell

Love him or hate him, Brian Sewell has probably generated more visitors for exhibitions in London than any other art critic.

This book is a compilation of some of his articles written for the Evening Standard in which he tackles some of his favourite topics.

National Palace Museum, Taipei

Photo Credit: Teleyinex via Compfight cc

#7 National Palace Museum, Taipei - 4.5 million visitors in 2013

The National Palace Museum in Tapei was created in 1921 and is the national museum of the Republic of China (Taiwan). It stems from the creation of a museum to house all the art and artifacts belonging to the last Emperor and the Imperial Family.

The museum was split between Taiwan and Beijing as a result of the Chinese Civil War. This is the part which is housed in Taiwan.

It's very likely that the Museum in Beijing should also be in this list.

  • 2013: ranked #7 with 4,500,278 visitors
  • 2012: ranked #7 with 4,360,815 visitors
  • 2011: ranjked #7 with 3,849,577 visitors
  • 2009: ranked #12 with 2,574,804 visitors

It's not obvious why statistics are provided some years and not other

2012 saw a major jump in visitor numbers. It did not have an exhibition in the top 20 exhibitions in the world in 2012.

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National Palace Museum, Taipei:
National Palace Museum, Shihlin District, Taipei City, 11143

get directions

The West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC
The West Building of the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC | Source

#8 National Gallery of Art, Washington - 4.1 million visitors in 2013

  • 2013: ranked #8 with 4,093,070 visitors - numbers continue to decline
  • 2012: ranked #8 with 4,200,000 visitors
  • 2011: ranked #6 with 4,392,252 visitors
  • 2010: ranked #6 with 4,775 million visitors
  • 2009: ranked #6 with 4.606 million visitors
  • 2008: ranked #3 with 4.96 million visitors
  • 2007: ranked #6 with 4.518 million visitors

The number of visitors have been dropping since 2008. The number of visitors in 2011 and 2012 represent the worst annual performance in terms of visitor attendance in the last five years. This has now been reflected in a drop in ranking within the top 10 from #6 to #8.

The museum has been relatively slow to get to grips with social media and may well have suffered as a result - in comparison to more tech-savvy museums. This is now being remedied.

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National Gallery of Art, Washington:
National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC 20565, USA

get directions

National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection

Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris and the Pompidou centre on the right
Place Georges-Pompidou, Paris and the Pompidou centre on the right | Source

#9 Centre Pompidou in Paris - 3.745 million visitors in 2012

  • 2013: ranked #9 with 3,745,000 visitors - number of visitors declined in 2013
  • 2012: ranked #9 with 3,800,000 visitors
  • 2011: ranked #8 with 3,613,076 visitors
  • 2010 ranked #8 with 3,130,000 visitors
  • 2009: Ranked #7 with 3,530,000 visitors

The Museum is beginning to regain the number of visitors it used to have

This is an Arts Centre rather than a conventional Museum

Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers designed the building which houses the Centre Pompidou in Place Georges Pompidou, in the centre of Paris. Its architecture is said to symbolise the spirit of the 20th century. It opened to the public in 1977.

Métro stations nearby : Rambuteau, Hôtel de Ville, Châtelet Châtelet - Les Halles.

Bus: Numbers 21, 29, 38, 47, 58, 69, 70, 72, 74, 75, 76, 81, 85, 96.

Car parking : parking Beaubourg-Horloge,

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Centre Pompidou, Paris:
The Centre Pompidou, Place Georges-Pompidou, 75004 Paris, France

get directions

Paris. (EYEWITNESS TRAV)
Paris. (EYEWITNESS TRAV)
Paperback: 448 pages Publisher: DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley) (February 1, 2012)
 

BOOKS: Museum Guides - Paris

My ESSENTIAL Guide for every visit to Paris.

It includes great short guides to all the Museums you can visit and tips on what to see.

Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars (124 customer reviews)

Main gallery on the ground floor of the Musee d"Orsay - which is housed in a former railway station
Main gallery on the ground floor of the Musee d"Orsay - which is housed in a former railway station | Source

#10 Musee d'Orsay in Paris - 3.6 million visitors in 2013

The Musee d'Orsay focuses mainly on French paintings, sculpture, furniture, and photography from the period 1848 to 1915. It contains significant collections of art by the artists associated with

  • Impressionism (Manet, Degas, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir, Sisley)
  • Post-Impressionism (Van Gogh, Gauguin, the school of Pont-Aven, Cross, Seurat, the Douanier Rousseau)

Annual Visitors

  • 2013: ranked #10 with 3,500,000 visitors in 2013
  • 2012: ranked #10 with 3,600,000 visitors in 2012
  • 2011: ranked #11 with 3,154,000 visitors
  • 2010: ranked #10 with 2,985,519 visitors
  • 2009: ranked #8 with 3.022 million visitors
  • 2008: ranked #8 with 3.03 million visitors

Numbers have picked up again following closure of parts of the museum for refurbishment

Information for Visitors

  • Address: 1 rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris
  • Metro: line 12, to Solférino
  • RER: line C, to Musée d'Orsay
  • Bus: 24, 63, 68, 69, 73, 83, 84, 94
  • Taxi: taxi stand and special vehicles quai Anatole-France

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Musee d'Orsay, Paris:
Orsay Museum, 1 Rue de la Légion d'Honneur, 75007 Paris, France

get directions

Painting in the Musee d'Orsay

Painting in the Musee d'Orsay
Painting in the Musee d'Orsay | Source
Art & Architecture: Musée D'Orsay
Art & Architecture: Musée D'Orsay
Paperback: 572 pages Publisher: Ullmann Publishing (April 15, 2013) Language: English
 

Musee d'Orsay - Art and Architecture - NEW book in 2013

ESSENTIAL for visits in 2013

This brand new edition is in lightweight softcover and features over 600 full-colour illustrations and detailed floor-plans.

Top Art Museums in the Past

This is an attempt to identify the trends in visitors to different museums around the world. It highlights the different surveys of numbers of museum visitors. Accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

The Annual Art Newspaper Survey - Exhibition and museum attendance figures - on an annual basis

The links below are to pdf files of the original articles published by The Art Newspaper

The Top 30 Art Galleries and Museums in 2012

including annual visitor numbers

According to the Art Newspaper, these are the top 30 most popular art museums in the world in 2012 based on the total number of visitors. The list below includes the number of visitors, the name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in.

The major movers are:

* the Vatican Museums which entered the top 100 at #6

* the Museo Nacional del Prado which dropped out of the top 100, having been #11 in 2011

1. 9,720,260 Louvre, Paris

2. 6,115,881 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

3. 5,575,946 British Museum, London

4. 5,304,710 Tate Modern, London

5. 5,163,902 National Gallery, London

6. 5,064,546 Vatican Museums, Vatican City NEW ENTRY

7. 4,360,815 National Palace Museum, Taipei

8. 4,200,000 National Gallery of Art, Washington

9. 3,800,000 Centre Pompidou, Paris

10. 3,613,076 Musee d'Orsay, Paris

11. 3,231,700 Victoria & Albert Museum London

12. 3,128,550 National Museum of Korea, Seoul

13. 2,882,385 State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg

14. 2,805,659 Museum of Modern Art New York

15. 2,640,264 National Folk Museum of Korea Seoul

16. 2,565,000 Reina Sofía Madrid

17. 2,235,354 Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio de Janeiro

18. 2,096,858 National Portrait Gallery London

19. 1,944,820 Shanghai Museum Shanghai

20. 1,893,521 National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

21. 1,769,217 Galleria degli Uffizi Florence

22. 1,735,600 Moscow Kremlin Museums Moscow

23. 1,604,105 National Galleries of Scotland Edinburgh NEW ENTRY in top 30

24. 1,590,608 Getty Los Angeles NEW ENTRY in top 30

25. 1,571,333 National Gallery of Victoria Melbourne NEW ENTRY in top 30

26. 1,536,833 Tate Britain London

27. 1,518,927 Grand Palais Paris

28. 1,504,286 Tokyo National Museum Tokyo

29. 1,491,575 State Tretyakov Gallery Moscow NEW ENTRY in top 30

30. 1,486,281 Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

The Top 30 Art Galleries and Museums in 2011

including annual visitor numbers

According to the Art Newspaper, these are the top 30 most popular art museums in the world in 2011 based on the total number of visitors. The list below includes the number of visitors, the name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in.

The major movers are:

* National Palace Museum, Taipei - in to the top 30 for the first time at #7

* CaixaForum Madrid - in to the top 30 for the first time at #24

1. 8,880,000 Louvre, Paris

2. 6,004,254 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

3. 5,848,534 British Museum, London

4. 5,253,216 National Gallery, London

5. 4,802,287 Tate Modern, London

6. 4,392,252 National Gallery of Art, Washington

7. 3,849,577 National Palace Museum, Taipei

8. 3,613,076 Centre Pompidou, Paris

9. 3,239,549 National Museum of Korea, Seoul

10. 3,154,000 Musee d'Orsay, Paris

11. 2,911,767 Museo Nacional del Prado Madrid

12. 2,879,686 State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg

13. 2,814,746 Museum of Modern Art New York

14. 2,789,400 Victoria & Albert Museum London

15. 2,705,529 Reina Sofía Madrid

16. 2,355,956 National Folk Museum of Korea Seoul

17. 2,288,117 Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio

18. 1,880,104 National Portrait Gallery London

19. 1,742,970 Galleria degli Uffizi Florence

20. 1,727,192 Shanghai Museum Shanghai

21. 1,724,271 Moscow Kremlin Museums Moscow

22. 1,629,333 Tokyo National Museum Tokyo

23. 1,600,298 Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

24. 1,598,858 CaixaForum Madrid

25. 1,500,000 Grand Palais Paris

26. 1,494,728 National Museum of Scotland Edinburgh

27. 1,485,580 Gyeongju National Museum Gyeongju

28. 1,476,505 Tate Britain London

29. 1,457,028 Musée Quai Branly Paris

30. 1,440,599 Art Institute of Chicago Chicago

The Top 30 Art Galleries and Museums in 2010

including annual visitor numbers

According to the Art Newspaper, these are the top 30 most popular art museums in the world in 2010 based on the total number of visitors. The list below includes the number of visitors, name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in.

The major mover is the Museum of Modern Art in New York which enters the top 10. Highest new entry in the top 30 is Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio. Lots of changes near the bottom of the list where other new entries are: Gyeongju National Museum, Gyeongju; Acropolis Museum, Athens; Palazzo Reale, Milan; Residenzschloss, Dresden and Saatchi Gallery, London

1. 8,500,000 Louvre Paris

2. 5,842,138 British Museum, London

3. 5,216,988 Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

4. 5,061,172 Tate Modern, London

5. 4,954,914 National Gallery, London

6. 4,775,114 National Gallery of Art, Washington

7. 3,131,238 Museum of Modern Art, New York

8. 3,530,000 Centre Pompidou, Paris

9. 3,067,909 National Museum of Korea, Seoul

10. 2,985,510 Musée d'Orsay, Paris

11. 2,732,000 Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

12. 2,269,900 Victoria and Albert Museum, London

13. 2,426,203 State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

14. 2,317,772 Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio

15. 2,313,532 Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid

16. 2,043,854 De Young Museum, San Francisco

17. 2,273,634 Tokyo National Art Centre, Tokyo

18. 1,819,442 National Portrait Gallery, London

19. 1,665,291 Tate Britain, London

20. 1,651,210 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

21. 1,612,780 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

22. 1,491,582 Gyeongju National Museum, Gyeongju

23. 1,429,854 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

24, 1,369,187 Museo Picasso, Barcelona

25. 1,355,720 Acropolis Museum, Athens

26. 1,326,153 Musée Quai Branly, Paris

27. 1,300,000 Palazzo Reale, Milan

28. 1,297,424 State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

29. 1,286,733 Residenzschloss, Dresden

30. 1,271,174 Saatchi Gallery, London

Source: THE ART NEWSPAPER, From issue 223, April 2010

Published online 29 Mar 11 (Museums)

Note: In the process of constructing this site I've discovered how bad art museums and galleries are at reporting their visitor numbers on their website despite the financial aid they often get from sponsors and governments.

The Top 30 Art Galleries and Museums in 2009

including annual visitor numbers

According to the Art Newspaper, the top 30 most popular art museums in the world in 2009 based on the total number of visitors are as follows. The list below includes the number of visitors, name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in.

1. 8,500,000 Louvre Paris

2. 5,569,981 British Museum, London

3. 4,891,450 Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. 4,780,030 National Gallery, London

5. 4,747,537 Tate Modern, London

6. 4,605,606 National Gallery of Art, Washington

7. 3,530,000 Centre Pompidou, Paris

8. 3,022,012 Musée d'Orsay, Paris

9. 2,763,094 Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid

10. 2,730,204 National Museum of Korea, Seoul

11. 2,672,761 Museum of Modern Art, New York

12. 2,574,804 Taiwan Palace Museum, Taiwan

13. 2,426,203 State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg

14. 2,273,634 Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo

15. 2,269,900 Victoria and Albert Museum, London

16. 2,087,415 Reina Sofía, Madrid

17. 1,961,843 National Portrait Gallery, London

18. 1,846,889 Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

19. 1,840,812 De Young Museum, San Francisco

20. 1,572,171 Moscow Kremlin Museum, Moscow

21. 1,530,318 Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

22. 1,513,249 National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo

23. 1,501,837 Tate Britain, London

24. 1,500,000 Mori Art Museum, Tokyo

25. 1,496,438 Musée Quai Branly, Paris

26. 1,451,139 Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

27. 1,368,096 Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow

28. 1,312,762 Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

29. 1,300,000 Children's Museum, , Indianopolis

30. 1,283,401 State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

Source: THE ART NEWSPAPER, No. 212, APRIL 2010

The Top Ten Museums in 2008

These are the top art galleries and museums in the world, based on visitor numbers in 2008. The first eight are based on recorded visitor number according to a survey by the Art Newspaper (see Bloomberg's Louvre's 8.5 Million Visitors Keep It as No. 1 Museum Worldwide) plus visitor numbers I've identified.

#1 Museum - Louvre in Paris (8.5 million visitors in 2008)

#2 British Museum in London (5.93 million visitors in 2008)

#3 National Gallery of Art, Washington (4.96 million visitors in 2008)

#4 Tate Modern in London (4.95 million visitors in 2008)

#5 Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (4.82 million visitors in 2008)

#6 National Gallery in London (4.5 million visitors in 2008/9)

#7 Vatican Museums in Rome (4.44 million visitors in 2008)

#8 Musée d'Orsay in Paris (3.03 million visitors in 2008)

#9 The Hermitage in St Petersburg

#10 Museo National del Prado in Madrid

I confess #9 and #10 are included because I think they should be although I wasn't able to verify these two!

The top 20 Museums in 2007

Acording to the Art Newspaper, the top 20 most popular art museums in the world by number of visitors are as follows. The list below includes the number of visitors, name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in.

8,300,000 - Louvre Paris

5,509,425 - Centre Pompidou Paris

5,191,840 - Tate Modern London

4,837,878 - British Museum London

4,547,353 - Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

4,518,413 - National Gallery of Art Washington

4,310,083 - Vatican Museums Vatican City

4,159,485 - National Gallery London

3,166,509 - Musée d'Orsay Paris

2,652,924 - Museo Nacional del Prado Madrid

2,650,551 - National Palace Museum Taipei

2,435,300 - Victoria and Albert Museum London

2,395,075 - State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg

2,232,475 - Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum Glasgow

2,219,554 - Museum of Modern Art New York

2,133,149 - Field Museum Chicago

1,772,255 - Tokyo National Museum Tokyo

1,674,607 - CaxiaForum Barcelona Barcelona

1,650,000 - Moscow Kremlin Museums Moscow

1,649,969 - Museum of Fine Arts Houston

Source: London is named the world's museums capital

Top 10 Museums according to Trip Adviser

most visited museums according to Trip Adviser website traffic

1. Louvre

2. Vatican Museums

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. Getty Museum

5. Musee d'Orsay

6. Uffizi

7. Art Institute of Chicago

8. Tate Modern

9. Prado

10. National Gallery, Washington

TripAdvisor Announces the Top 10 Most Popular Art Museums in the World

Some commentators have wondered as to the accuracy of the methodology used for this ranking

Great Art Museums - a Compendium

Other websites also have a view about which are the top musems!

More About Top Art Galleries & Museums

How to view top art museums without leaving your home

The Google Art Project

The Google Art Project is new in 2011 and unique. Google has worked with some of the world's top art museums and used its streetview technology to enable us all to discover and view more than a thousand artworks online in extraordinary detail.

* Explore museums with Street View technology: virtually move around the museum's galleries

* Artwork View: discover featured artworks at high resolution and use the custom viewer to zoom into paintings.

* Create your own collection: the 'Create an Artwork Collection' feature allows you to save specific views of any of the 1000+ artworks

The Most Popular Museums - articles covering the topic of which museums are the most popular

These are links to articles which identify which are the most popular museums and exhibitions

Other Announcements of Visitor Numbers

I'm trying to keep track of announcements about visitor numbers which is easier than it looks. Guess what figures don't get published in too many Annual Reports by Museums! Expect to see figures becoming more prominent and independently verified as public funding for the arts increasingly has to demonstrate value for money

One of the criticisms of visitor numbers in the UK is that the bulk are from tourists who have not contributed in anyway to their funding or upkeep - because publicly funded museums and art galleries in the UK are free to access.

Visiting Museums

The topic of "visiting museums" is one which regularly attracts comment and below you can find links to articles in major newspapers

Museums, technology and the internet

It's fascinating to see how fast museums are travelling in terms of revamping websites and blogs and initiating accounts with social media sites like YouTube and Flickr in order to initiate and maintain engagement with their target audience

Top Art Galleries in Cities around the World

These listings of top ten art galleries are published by various reputable sources

They start with the listings compiled by the Guardian newspaper which are ordered alphabetically by the name of the city in which they are located

Making A Mark Updates - Major Art Exhibitions in London - monthly updates on exhibitions in London in 2013

My blog lists all the major art exhibitions in London

In addition - on a monthly basis I provide a more focused highlighting of the major exhibitions likely to be of interest to my readers in the next three months. The exhibitions highlighted are:

  • major exhibitions in major art galleries and museums in LONDON.
  • major art competition exhibitions
  • major art society exhibitions

This helps keep me on track re. exhibitions to visit and review - and should prove useful to anybody visiting London with time to take in an exhibition

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