The Art Newspaper conducts an annual visitor figure report and notes the attendance in around 100 most popular art museums in the world. This year’s figures showcased the surprising records in Paris and Seoul and the dwindling of some known UK and States Museums.
Are the visitors going back to Museums? Has the impact of the Pandemic subsided and things have changed for the better? The Art Newspaper’s annual visitor survey gave us a clear picture of over 140 million visitors visiting their favourite museum’s world over in the year 2022. The number is double the number that was recorded in 2021 and three times the number that was recorded in 2020, however, it still does not match the year that was 2019.
The survey shows that Musée du Louvre has once again topped that survey with 7,726321 visitors visiting in the year 2022, the museum is currently so overcrowded that it is planning on restricting the visitors and changing its visiting policies. London’s iconic British Museum and The Tate Modern maintain their positions in the top five. The MET Museum is down to 1.7 million visitors compared to their pre-pandemic visitors study, this came as a shock as it was believed that things were rapidly changing with more visitors going out. It is one of the biggest drops in visitors for any art museum in the United States of America. Surprisingly, The National Gallery of Art in Washington saw 3.3 million visitors visiting its premises coming before The MET, it is for the first time that any museum has upstaged the MET. The National Gallery doubled up since last year but is still 20% down from its 2019 figures.
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in NewYork was at number 17 on the visitor’s survey and was followed by the National Museum of African American History and Culture with 1.1 million visitors.
The figures for visitors to some of London’s leading museums are lagging behind, the drop in international tourists visiting the city may have been the reason. A National Gallery spokesperson says that “the reduction of international tourism has been a key factor in our reduced visitor numbers”. While the British Museum may have seen a 209% increase since 2021, it is still 34% down from the records from 2019. The spokesperson from the British Museum attributes it to various factors in their interview with The Art Newspaper such as fewer visitors from China, the weather conditions of 2022, the Omicron variant of COVID-19 doing the rounds in the City and many more. The Tate Modern also showcased a similar graph to the British Museum, whose main visitor audience has been the native and local UK public rather than the foreign tourists. The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) had 2.4 million visitors down to about 40% from their figures in 2019, the spokesperson cited similar reasons as that of the British Museum.
The Burrell Collection in Glasgow saw a drastic increase in the visitors flocking in at 4,38,000 visitors with the National Museum of Scotland doing rather well too at Edinburgh with 1,973,751 visitors.
Europe saw a depressed recovery with the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam down to 35% in comparison to its figures in 2019, Galleria dell’ Accademia still 16% behind its figures in 2019, Van Gogh Museum saw 1.36 million visitors which is significantly more than in 2021 yet still below the 2019 figures. Neues Museum in Berlin (down 36%),Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Naples (down 34%).
The zero COVID-19 policy in Chinese museums heavily impacted its visitors and audience flocking in, however, one new museum enjoyed its first year of opening. Hong Kong’s new M+ Museum opened its doors in November 2021 reportedly receiving over 3,70,000 visitors. Despite COVID restrictions in the middle of 2021, it clocked in two million visitors by its first anniversary. M+ museum is the by-product of decades of planning by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron and houses a great collection of contemporary Chinese art donated by Swiss collector Uli Sigg. The M+ museum comes after the Asian Museum of the National Museum of Korea in Seoul in the visitor’s survey. The Museum in Korea received more than 3.4 million visitors. The Frieze art fair was held in the city for the first time which may have impacted the museum-goers in the city and made it in the top five of the survey.
Museums in New Zealand and Australia struggled mostly due to the strict COVID-19 restrictions being applied to the museums. The Art Gallery of South Australia in Adelaide saw a rise in the number of visitors in 2019 (pre-pandemic) with 539,000 visitors. The Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney saw a boost in numbers as people flocked to see its newly expanded building.
One way of increasing visitors to the museums was to curate innovative and well-curated exhibitions at the museum such as the exhibition on Mattisse’s ‘Red Studio’ painting in the National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen which saw a rise in their visitors in the year 2022. The Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest also saw a significant rise in their visitors too due to a particular exhibition. Extensions and new facades also led to an increase in visitors prancing to the museum in 2022.
The attendance at museums in Russia dwindled with visitors above 2.5 million visiting the State Hermitage Museum and the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg, this could be because of the Ukraine crisis that happened last year.
The year saw some surprises and some let-downs as per the analysis of the visitor’s survey, hopefully, the year 2023 shall be a good one. The visitor survey provides us with a great overview of the attendance at museums and how each global institution can learn and change from this study. It has been co-edited by Lee Cheshire and José da Silva and research is conducted by Alex Colville and Justin Kamp of The Art Newspaper. Read more.