World’s 20 most popular museums

The Louvre is back.

After being toppled from its spot as the world’s most visited museum in 2016, the Paris institution has regained its No. 1 position.

The venerable museum — home to masterpieces including “Venus de Milo,” the “Winged Victory of Samothrace” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” — welcomed 8.1 million visitors in 2017, a nearly 10% increase over its 2016 attendance numbers.

Those figures were released in the 12th annual Theme Index and Museum Index collaboration between the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM.

Tourism to Paris recovered in 2017, after bad weather and security fears hit the industry in 2016. That recovery as well as the “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” exhibition were likely responsible for the Louvre’s attendance spike.

The National Museum of China in Beijing, which edged out the Louvre to become 2016’s most popular museum, dropped to the No. 2 spot, with 8 million visitors.

Washington’s National Air and Space Museum and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art tied for the third-ranked spot, with 7 million visitors each in 2017.

Global attendance

Overall, global museum attendance was nearly flat in 2017, with a 0.2% increase in attendance over 2016 among the top 20 museums. The top museums collectively welcomed 108 million visitors in 2017.

However, regional museums fared better with 5% growth attributed to strong performance in Asia and some popular new entries.

While the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington did not break into the global top 20 with 2.4 million visitors in its first full year, it did have a significant impact on overall museum attendance in North America.

The museum is largely responsible for a 3% increase in attendance in 2017 at North America’s top museums.

Seven of the top 20 museums on the global list are located in China. With 11% growth year-over-year, museums in Asia recorded the fastest growth in 2017.

For more on the world’s most popular museums, click through the gallery above.

World’s most popular museums in 2017

1. Louvre, Paris, France

2. National Museum of China, Beijing, China

3. National Air and Space Museum, Washington, United States

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, United States

5. Vatican Museums, Vatican City

6. Shanghai Science & Technology Museum, Shanghai, China

7. National Museum of Natural History, Washington, United States

8. British Museum, London, United Kingdom

9. Tate Modern, London, United Kingdom

10. National Gallery of Art, Washington, United States

11. National Gallery, London, United Kingdom

12. American Museum of Natural History, New York, United States

13. National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

14. Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom

15. State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

16. China Science Technology Museum, Beijing, China

17. Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain

18. National Museum of American History, Washington, United States

19. Victoria & Albert Museum, London, United Kingdom

20. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France