The Art Newspapers Museum Attendance Report

Cultural institutions are facing a host of challenges according to a 2016 attendance survey from the Art Newspaper. Falling tourism against the backdrop of international terrorism, increased competition from the private sector, and rising overheads, are all issues that museums must contend with.

Terrorism knocks museum attendance in Europe

Terror attacks weighed on tourism and had a knock-on effect on museum visitors to European institutions. French institutions in particular, were negatively affected. Although the Louvre still topped TAN‘s survey with 7.4 million visitors in 2016, it was nonetheless a drop of 1.2 million people compared to the 8.6 million visitors recorded in 2015. The Musée d’Orsay also saw visitor numbers fall, to 3 million attendees in 2016, a sizable deficit compared to the 3.4 million visitors it recorded in 2015. However, at the Centre Pompidou, which is less reliant on visitors from overseas, numbers were up by 275,000 to 3.3 million.

In Belgium, terror attacks in Brussels last March also affected attendance at the Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique which encompasses several venues throughout the Belgian capital. Numbers dropped by a third, falling from 776,000 in 2015 to 497,000 in 2016.

Publicly accessible collections funded by private collectors and benefactors are becoming a force to be reckoned with. The current crop of private mega-collectors have resources and budgets at their disposal that most institutions can only dream of, which is reflected in the growing visitor numbers of these privately-owned museums. Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim’s Museo Soumaya in Mexico City topped the world’s private museums, attracting 2.2 million visitors. Bernard Arnault’s Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris attracted 1.2 million visitors, while Eli and Edythe Broad’s Broad museum tallied 753,000 visitors.