Arts and Culture

Museum attendance dropped by 78% in 2020. These were the most visited

Journalists stand in front of the Louvre Pyramid designed by Chinese-born U.S. architect Ieoh Ming Pei in Paris as the Louvre museum reopens its doors to the public after more than 6 months of closure due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in France, May 19, 2021. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Museé de Louvre took the top museum spot in 2020. Image: REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

Florian Zandt
Data Journalist, Statista
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  • Museum attendance went down by roughly 78% in 2020 across the 20 most-attended museums in the world, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Paris' Museé de Louvre had 2.7 million visitors in 2020, making it the most visited museum in the world.
  • The National Museum of China situated in Beijing, came in second with roughly 1.6 million visitors followed by Britain's Tate Modern in third.

Even with travel restrictions, curfews and closures of tourist attractions all over the world due to coronavirus pandemic, the Museé de Louvre still saw 2.7 million people visiting its exhibitions in 2020. As our chart shows, the runner-ups for the title of most-visited museum in the past year don't really come close.

Coming in second place is the National Museum of China situated in Beijing with roughly 1.6 million visitors. The museum is a result of the 2003 merger of the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the National Museum of Chinese History which were founded in 1950 and 1912, respectively. Even when judging its age by its oldest department, the state-led institution is still the youngest on the list. The Vatican Museums, on the other hand, are only in fourth place when it comes to the number of visitors, but were founded by Pope Julius II in 1506, making them one of the oldest still existing museumsin Europe.

a chart showing the most visited museums
Paris' Museé de Louvre had 2.7 million visitors in 2020. Image: Statista
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Overall, museum attendance went down by roughly 78 percent across the 20 most-attended museums in the world, with only 22.4 million people visiting those kinds of institutions in 2020. According to a survey by the International Council of Museums conducted in September and October of 2020, the impact of COVID-19 will be most visible in a reduction of public programs and exhibitions. 67 and 62 percent of respondents, respectively, named these consequences of the pandemic as likely, while only six percent believed that their museum had to close for good.

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