Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top 30 art galleries and museums in 2011

The Art Newspaper recently published its annual review of Exhibition and Museum Attendance Fugures for 2011.  This documents the visitor numbers to art exhibitions and art galleries and museums in 2011.

Below I provide my digest and commentary on the information relating to the top museums.

The Top 30 Art Galleries and Museums in the World in 2011

The Art Newspaper determines the top art galleries and museums based on the (unaudited) visitor numbers reported by the museums to the paper.  The main problem with the numbers is that they are self-reported and not audited.  Also some museums charge - making it easier to count numbers while others have free entry.  Then there's the people like me who have "Friends" or "member" status which gets me in free as many times as I like!

The top 30 art museums and galleries in 2011, based on their self-reported annual visitor numbers, are as detailed in the list below.

This includes 
  • the number of visitors, the name of the museum, and the city that the museum is located in - as per the Art Newspaper survey
  • the ranked position number and a colour code (my new added value for this year) to indicate the location of the gallery or museum - as per me!
The colour coding for places enables you to see more easily where the focus of the great museums is. Following the top 30 list I have a list of the top cities.

red = Europe
blue = UK
purple = Russia / ex USSR
orange = USA & Canada 
green = Asia
  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 de Janeiro
  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
From this we can conclude that if you want to see a lot of great art a "Grand Tour" of the UK and Europe might be one way to go!

I personally was very surprised to see only four American galleries and museums in the top 30 in the world.  The Art Institute of Chicago has dropped nine places while conversely the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has dramatically improved its ranking - moving up some 21 places but staying outside the top 30.

The major movers coming into the Top 30 for the first time 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
The surprising new appearance on the art scene are the exhibitions and the galleries in South America.  Brazil has been having something of an exhibition boom.  The top gallery was Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro

The top cities for art galleries

I've also reviewed which are the top cities for art - according to the Art News paper tabulation.  The names are:
  • prefixed with their position in the ranking of the top 100 art galleries and museums
  • plus an indication of the places gained or dropped since 2010 as a suffix
While the top four art cities remain the same, in 2011 Seoul has now replaced Tokyo in the top five following the devastating Tsunami and the aftershocks of the March earthquake off the coast of Japan.  However it should be noted that rankings of museums in Tokyo had already dropped significantly in 2010.

The National Gallery in Trafalgar Square
© Katherine Tyrrell - all rights reserved


London - continues to have a total of nine art museums and galleries in the top 100 art galleries and museums in the world.  This is significantly in excess of any other capital city.  (I live in London and can get to all of these in under 45 minutes!).  What's also significant for overseas tourists is how many other art museums in the UK are in the top 100.

In terms of position, there's some minor jostling for position at the top end - with the Da Vinci exhibition doubtless bringing lots of extra visitors to the National Gallery.  Well done also to the National Portrait Gallery for maintaining its ranking against some of the giants!  I'm not quite sure what's going on west of Piccadilly Circus but the downgrade in rankings suggests that either the exhibition programmes of Tate Britain, the Saatchi Gallery and the RA failed to impress or the rankings went back to normal after a good year in 2009.

#3. British Museum, London (-1)
#4. National Gallery, London (+1)
#5. Tate Modern, London (-1)
#14. Victoria and Albert Museum (-2)
#18. National Portrait Gallery (same)
#29. Tate Britain (-9)
#43. Saatchi Gallery (-13)
#63. Royal Academy of Arts (-17)
#66. Serpentine Gallery (+2)


Paris continues to have an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. I'm amazed at The Musée d'Orsay being able to hang on to the #10 slot given the impact of the renovation of its Impressionist and Post-Impressionist Galleries during 2010. The Musee Picasso is also still closed and is due to reopen in the Summer of 2013.  In the meantime the rest of us get to see rather a lot of Picasso's work which is good!

#1 The Louvre (same)
#8 Centre Pompidou, Paris (-2)
#10. Musée d'Orsay, Paris  (same)
#25 Grand Palais, Paris (?)
#29 Quai Branly, Paris (-3)
#58 Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville, Paris (-3)


New York takes third place.  The late Alastair McQueen dazzled at the Met (“Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty”, a posthumoustribute by the Costume Institute) and helped in no small way to secure the #2 ranking.  Both MOMA and the Guggenheim could have done with a boost like this.
On average,more than 8,000 people a day went (in total around 660,000). The must-see show helped the Met to a record year in our survey, taking its annual total figure to more than six million, up from 5.2 million in 2010The Art Newspaper - Exhibition and mu
#2    Metropolitan Museum of Art (+1)
#13  Museum of Modern Art, New York (-6)
#46  Guggenheim Musem (-7)


Madrid retained 4th place.   The Prado stayed just outside the top ten.  The museum with the most astounding leap up the charts is the CaixaForum Madrid.  Like the UK, Spain is also stronger in the European context in terms of its representation of regional museums.

#11 Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid (same)
#15 Reina Sofía, Madrid  (same)
#24 CaixaForum Madrid (not ranked in 2010)
#61 Museo Thyssen Bornemisza (+1)


Seoul claims the 5th place for the first time.  Two of its three museums move into the top 100 museums.

#9 National Museum of Korea, Seoul (same)
#16 National Folk Museum of Korea, Seoul (not ranked in 2010)
#49 National Museum of Contemporary Art, Seoul (not ranked in 2010)

I've updated my information site about the top museums and art galleries which you can find here - Top 10 Art Galleries and Museums

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