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The National Museum of China in Beijing | © Nagyman/WikiCommons
The National Museum of China in Beijing | © Nagyman/WikiCommons
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Beijing's National Museum of China Named World's Most Popular Museum of 2016

Picture of Rachel Gould
Art & Design Editor
Updated: 16 June 2017
A June 2017 report co-published by the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and American engineering firm AECOM has determined that with over 7.5 million visitors last year, the National Museum of China was the most visited museum of 2016.

A museum for Chinese history and the arts in Beijing, the National Museum of China saw a 3.6 percent increase in visitors from 2015. In comparison, the Louvre, which was the most popular museum in 2015 with 8.7 million visitors, saw a significant 14.9 percent decrease in foot traffic last year, with attendance dropping to 7.4 million. It now sits in third place on TEA’s ranking of the top 20 museums around the world.

© TEA/AECOM 2017
© TEA/AECOM 2017

While the report also accounts for science and natural history museums, the National Museum of China beat major global art institutions like New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the National Gallery in London. Why? “Asia’s economy remains quite robust,” the report synthesizes. “Tourism is very strong: in most places, we’re seeing double-digit growth in terms of visitor arrivals, both domestically and internationally.”

The report also distinguishes between free and paid museums. The National Museum of China is free, which encourages visitation and extends the breadth of those who can afford to attend. And of course, with a colossal population of nearly 1.4 billion people, the Chinese cultural center is at a relative advantage.

On the flip side, a reported 1.5 percent decrease in Parisian tourism due to a weakened economy, strained political climate, and environmental deterrents (summer floods forced museum closure) largely explains less foot traffic at the Louvre.

Despite skyrocketing political turbulence and declining arts funding across the board, the TEA’s report reflects a favorable one million-person increase in museum visitation worldwide. Together, the top 20 museums (13 of which are art museums) in Asia, the United States, and Europe set a new attendance record with a calculated total of 108 million attendees. While the addition of one million visitors is comparatively small, it suggests increasing interest in the arts worldwide.