A survey revealing the most popular museums and exhibitions of last year highlights how fashion, celebrity ties and Instagram appeal helped boost visitor numbers in what was a record year for art appreciation.
The Louvre was the most visited museum and gallery of 2018. The Paris museum broke all ticket office records last year and credited its rise in popularity to the epic Apesh*t music video Beyonce and Jay-Z filmed there. The figures were revealed by The Art Newspaper, which ranked museums and art galleries by visitor numbers in its annual international survey. It says visitors to the Louvre, which also staged a record-breaking Delacroix exhibition, increased by 26% to 10.2 million in 2018.
The National Museum of China, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and the Vatican Museums completed the top four, which saw no change from last year. The Tate Modern came in fifth place overtaking the British Museum for the first time ever, no doubt owed to the success of its 2018 Picasso exhibition. The National Gallery in London came in seventh place, followed by the National Gallery of Art, Washington (eighth) and State Hermitage, St Petersburg (ninth).
London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, which held exhibitions on Frida Kahlo and fashion house Balenciaga also reported a record year with four million visitors and rounded off the top ten. Fashion-friendly shows are proving to be a big hit for the museum again this year as it recently announced it would extend its sold-out Dior show by seven weeks due to popular demand.
The Art Newspaper survey also ranked the most popular exhibitions of last year. Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination was the most visited exhibition of the year and the most visited exhibition of all time in Manhattan. Staged at the Met and featuring gowns and artefacts that cavorted with fashion and the Catholic Church, the exhibition kicked off with the Met Gala in May last year where celebrities like Rihanna walked the red carpet in custom-designed costumes.
The Met also had the second-most visited exhibition with Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer. While the Instagrammable Almost Home exhibition by Korean-born artist Do Ho Suh at the Smithsonian, Washington DC was the third-most popular exhibition of the year.
You can see the full list of 2018’s most visited shows and museums here.