Top-attended museum show of 2011 is a surprise; also L.A. numbers

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The top-attended museum exhibition of 2011 wasn’t in London, New York or Paris. The No. 1 slot is held by an M.C. Escher show in Rio de Janeiro, according to the Art Newspaper’s annual survey, which appeared in the monthly publication’s most recent issue.

‘The Magical World of Escher’ ran at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, a former bank building in the heart of Rio. The exhibition was ranked No. 1 based on daily visitors. It saw 9,677 visitors a day, according to the Art Newspaper.

The exhibition was free and open to the public, which no doubt played a role in its impressive attendance figures.

The most-attended U.S. exhibition was ‘Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty,’ a posthumous homage to the fashion designer that ran at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The fashion exhibition saw daily attendance of 8,025 visitors.


Based on total visitors, not daily visitors, the most popular show internationally was ‘Abstract Expressionist New York’ at the Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition saw a total of about 1.2 million visitors.

Los Angeles did not place anywhere near the top ranks.

The highest ranking L.A. shows were ‘Tim Burton’ at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art with 2,714 daily visitors; ‘David Smith: Cubes and Anarchy,’ also at LACMA, with 2,565 daily visitors; and ‘Art in the Streets’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art with 2,495 daily visitors. The Art Newspaper stated that LACMA saw 2011 attendance of about 1.2 million visitors, the first time the museum has broken the 1 million mark in the publication’s survey. It also said that LACMA has approximately doubled its attendance from five years ago.

LACMA’s attendance beat the Getty Center, which saw a little less than 1.2 million visitors for the year.

The top-ranked museums for 2011 were the Louvre in Paris, with 8.9 million visitors; the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with 6 million visitors; and the British Museum in London, with 5.8 million visitors.

The Art Newspaper said that when it started the annual survey in 1996, about 4 million people went to the top 10 shows. For 2011, almost 6 million people went to see the 10 best-attended shows.

You can see the full results of the survey at the Art Newspaper.


Critic’s Notebook: What MOCA’s ‘Art in the Streets’ numbers mean

‘Art in the Streets’ sets record for MOCA, sort of

Doing the numbers on LACMA’s Tim Burton show

-- David Ng