Whether it’s a museum centred around a particular artwork or place, or a large collection of masterpieces from all over the world, museums are places that make you want to take your time and soak up every minute of it. While there are some museums that are purely aesthetic, many of the best are those that challenge visitors to think differently about their lives and societies.
One of the most common uses of a museum is to display a collection of objects, which can include paintings, artifacts, books, and even furniture. Usually, these collections are curated by an expert and displayed in a way that allows visitors to explore the subject matter as well as its historical context.
The purpose of a museum is to preserve the cultural heritage that represents human history. This is achieved through a variety of methods, such as cataloging, exhibitions, guided visits, conferences, social media, etc.
It’s no secret that the world’s greatest museums are incredibly popular destinations, with many of these top attractions hosting millions of annual visitors. Using data from Statista, we’ve compiled a list of the top-visited museums worldwide to inspire your next adventure.
1. Louvre, Paris: The world’s most visited museum in terms of number of visitors.
Located in the heart of Paris, the Louvre is one of the largest and most well-known museums in the world, and its collection encompasses a wide range of artworks and artifacts from all over the world. You’ll find everything from Classical sculptures to Mesopotamian antiquities and Egyptian relics in its halls.
2. National Gallery, London: Europe’s most famous collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings resides in this impressive building.
3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Met is arguably the world’s most famous museum and houses an extensive collection that spans the globe from antiquity to modern day. Its European paintings include works by Rembrandt, Rodin, Vermeer and Botticelli, while its Egyptian collection includes the Temple of Dendur (circa 23-10 BC) and the tomb of Perneb, circa 2440 BC.
4. Museum Island, Germany: During the 19th century, the discovery of ancient Greek and Roman artifacts fueled German archaeologists to travel to Babylon, Ashur and Egypt. Their efforts led to the founding of Museum Island, now home to the Pergamon Museum and its collection of Egyptian artifacts and other ancient treasures.
5. Smithsonian Institution, Washington: Another of the most visited museums in the world, this is a must-visit for anyone with a passion for science. The Smithsonian Institution, also known as the National Museum of Natural History, is home to a vast collection of plants, fossils, minerals, and other items.
6. Victoria and Albert Museum, London: This famous institution is a must-visit for those with an interest in fashion and design, as well as art. The V&A is heralded as “the world’s leading museum of art, design, and performance.”
Despite some recent declines in attendance, the U.S.’s Metropolitan Museum of Art remains one of the top-visited museums in the world, with an estimated 1.2 million visitors in 2020 (down from six million in 2019). As with many other global institutions, visitor numbers depend on a variety of factors.