Visitor figures 2013: Taipei takes top spot with loans from China

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Salvador Dalí reigns supreme in Europe, The Art Newspaper’s annual survey confirms

By Javier Pes and Emily Sharpe. Web only
Published online: 24 March 2014

“Western Zhou Dynasty” at Taipei’s National Palace Museum

Dutch Old Masters from the Mauritshuis, the Hague, on the Tokyo leg of a world tour topped our annual international survey of exhibitions in 2012. In The Art Newsaper‘s 2013 survey, the top two paying shows were again in Asia but of a very different character and both were in Taiwan.

In the National Palace Museum in Taipei loans of ancient gold, jade and bronze artefacts from mainland China alongside works from the collection pulled in the crowds (10,946 a day) for its “Western Zhou Dynasty” show. Paintings from the Lingnan school of the 19th and 20th century, also including cross-strait loans, attracted almost as many visitors (10,711 a day) to the same institution in Taiwan.

The Spanish surrealist Salvador Dalí was a hit in Paris and Madrid, providing Europe’s top two paying exhibitions (fourth and fifth overall). In the French capital, “Dalí” broke the Centre Pompidou’s daily attendance record. Last year, 7,364 people a day went to see the Spanish artist’s work (790,000 in total). In Madrid, “Dalí” also saw queues snaking outside the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. But the show’s 6,615 visitors a day did not quite beat the institution’s record, which was set by the Picassos lent by the Musée Picasso, Paris, in 2008.

For the best attended free exhibitions, Rio de Janeiro’s Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil comes top of our survey as it has in recent years. Its most popular show “Impressionism: Paris and Modernity”, featuring loans from the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, drew 8,099 visitors a day, coming third overall. The artists in the Rio cultural centre’s next most popular show are unknown and from China, the so-called “peasant da Vincis” brought to the world’s attention by international star Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang. The outsider art attracted 6,409 visitors a day (sixth spot overall).

Museum attendance 2013

The Louvre has topped our list of best-attended art museums since we began surveying overall attendance six years ago. Even with around 500,000 fewer visitors last year (after a record-breaking 2012), the Louvre retains its pole position with an annual attendance of 9.3 million. The British Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art swopped places in 2013. The free London institution saw its attendance rise to 6.7 million putting it into second place. The Met in New York (voluntary admission $25), saw attendance its rise to 6.2 million, and came third.

The National Gallery, London, had a bumper year with six million visitors without a blockbuster show, putting it sixth overall, up one place from 2012. The Tate Modern, despite a retrospective of works by Lichtenstein, saw its visitor numbers fall to 4.8 million from 5.3 million in 2012, when it came fourth overall. In 2013 it fills the sixth spot.

In Madrid, the Prado had a disappointing year, falling from 3.1 million to 2.3 million, despite Monday openings (18th overall). But the sun shone on the nearby Reina Sofía, boosted by “Dalí”, its attendance rose to 3.2 million putting it into 12th place overall (up from 16th with 2.5 million visitors in 2012).

The Detroit Institute of Arts, which is continues the good fight against the forced sale of works in its collection, just missed the top 100 in our survey, coming 102nd. It total attendance last year was 594,000, a big jump since 2011 when 429,000 people went.

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