The results from The Art Newspaper’s 2018 annual international visitor figures survey are out. Investigating the most popular museums and exhibitions across the globe and identifying the contributing factors, the respected report is a comprehensive review of last year’s highs and lows for the art world’s biggest institutions.
Starting with the UK, 2018 saw Tate Modern overtake the British Museum as the most visited gallery in the country, with nearly 50,000 more total visitors, likely with thanks to its highly successful exhibition, Picasso 1932: Love, Fame, Tragedy.
Other British museums dominated the top 10 list, with London’s National Gallery sitting pretty in 7th with visitor figures of 5.7 million and the Victoria and Albert Museum not far behind in 10th, with 3.9 million – no doubt aided in part by it’s sold out Frida Kahlo exhibition, which showcased the late Mexican artist’s personal photographs and possessions.
The Royal Academy of Arts also had a stand out year after setting a new show attendance record of nearly 300,000 for its annual Summer Exhibition, this time guest curated by artist Grayson Perry. In turn contributing to a record annual attendance of 1.6 million in 2018, the institution was up 600,000 on the previous year.
Moving over to France, music power couple Beyonce and Jay-Z gave the world’s most popular gallery, The Louvre, a big helping hand in boosting its annual attendance by 26%, after shooting their music video for Apeshit inside the museum. Showing the pair relaxing in front of iconic paintings such as the Mona Lisa, it quickly went viral.
Finally, stateside, another power couple helped the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, smash its total attendance record by a whopping 1 million visitors. An unveiling of Barack and Michelle Obama paintings by artists Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald in its exhibition Presidential Portraits on View, took the museum’s annual figures up to 2.3 million in 2018.
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