The 15 Most Visited Museums in The World

FUN FACTS September 12, 2017 By Vincent

When traveling, it is sometimes good to go off the beaten track and look at things that aren't on most tourist's checklists. However, monuments and landmarks are usually extremely popular for a reason and when it comes to the world's best museums, it is more often than not because they are filled with unique and scintillating artifacts and exhibitions.

Here are the 15 most visited on the planet.  

15. National Gallery of Art — Washington, DC, USA

Focus: Classical Art

Annual Attendance: 3.9 million


Established in 1937, this museum resides in the American capital where it showcases some of the best artwork known to man. Predominantly housing renaissance art from Europe and America, it consists of two buildings with the West building holding historical works and the East being the showing off contemporary and more modern pieces. Artists including da Vinci, Jackson Pollock, Monet, and Manet all feature amongst its walls as well as having exhibition space for visiting works. In 2014 it recorded an attendance of  3.9 million people throughout the year.

14. National Museum of American History — Washington, DC, USA

Focus: American History

Annual Attendance: 4.0 million

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Another museum in the American capital, this one attracted marginally more than its near neighbor the National Gallery of Art as it saw  4.0 million people through its doors in 2014. A Smithsonian Institute museum, it is free to enter and holds items of social, historical and political importance to the country such as Civil War artifacts and the original flag that inspired the national anthem.

13. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum — Shanghai, China

Focus: Science and Technology

Annual Attendance: 4.2 Million

Lau Chun Kit/

One of the relatively newer museums on this list, having opened in 2001, it is dedicated to Science and contains Asia's largest educational science cinema with around 10,000 showings per year. With exhibitions ranging from the technological side of science, including space and robotics, right through to the more natural, such as spiders and human biology, it is little wonder that this has become a huge hit, attracting 4.2 million visitors in 2014.

12. American Museum of Natural History — New York, NY, USA

Focus: Natural History

Annual Attendance: 5.0 Million


Diego Grandi/

One of the largest museums in the world, consisting of 27 interconnected buildings that have 45 permanent exhibition spaces, this is truly an impressive spectacle. Just across from Central Park, on the Upper West Side of  Manhattan,  5.0 million people went to see its collection of dinosaur bones (including an awesome T-Rex), the Hayden Planetarium and its shows on Ocean life in 2014.

11. Natural History Museum — London, UK

Focus: Natural History

Annual Attendance: 5.4 Million

An iconic Romanesque building that opened in 1881, it has long been one of the world's most popular museums and has the bones of elephants, dinosaurs, and whales all within its walls. The legendary diplodocus 'Dippy' has stood in its main entrance hall since 1979 but has been in the museum for over 100 years until last year when it was sent on tour and now an equally magnificent blue whale welcomes visitors. In 2009 it opened working laboratory's for scientists to learn more about the exhibits and it brought in 5.4 million visitors to see what it had on offer in 2014.

10. National Palace Museum (Taiwan) — Taipei, Taiwan

Focus: Classical Chinese History

Annual Attendance: 5.4 Million


Taiwan has a vivid and thrilling historical legacy after its split from mainland China and this is represented in the near  700,000 works of Chinese art and artifacts that are held in the stunning National Palace. Because of this political split, it shares a history with the Palace museum in Beijing but holds paintings, jades, ceramics, bronzes, rare books, and calligraphy untouched by the cultural revolution that affected much of China's pieces in the 1960s.  Because of this, it brought in 5.4 million visitors in 2014.

9. Tate Modern — London UK

Focus: Modern Art

Annual Attendance: 5.8 Million


A seven-floor gallery that overlooks the River Thames, the Tate Modern building was originally the Bankside Power Station until it went out of use in 1981. When the swathes of modern and contemporary art moved in in 2000, the chimney stacks and exterior were kept as they were in the 20th century and have now become closely associated with the Gallery. One of the largest museums of contemporary and modern art in the world, 5.8 million people visited in 2014.

8. Vatican Museums — Vatican

Focus: Religous Art and Scripture

Annual Attendance: 6.2 Million

Songquan Deng/

A complex of museums and galleries, the Vatican Museums date back to the 1700s and hold religious artifacts, art, and sculptures from across the globe including pieces from Egypt, sculptures from the Roman era, a collection of 15th-17th-century tapestries and the world renowned Sistine Chapel. In 2014, 6.2 million people visited the Vatican Museums which was a sharp increase from 2013.

7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art — New York, NY, USA

Focus: Classical Art

Annual Attendance: 6.3 Million

The largest art gallery in the United States, The Met has over 2 million pieces. Art spanning over 5000 years of human endeavor is collected under one roof from Egypt, Europe, and America and encompasses classics to modern art in what is one of the most impressive collections of work the world has to offer which is probably why 6.3 million people visited in 2014.

6. The National Gallery — London, UK

Focus: Classical Art

Annual Attendance: 6.4 Million

The largest art gallery in the United Kingdom sits just off of Trafalgar Square and offers free entry to see some of Western art's most important pieces including those by Velázquez, JMW Turner, and Vincent Van Gough. 6.4 million visitors went to see the collection of over 2,300 paintings in 2014.

5.  British Museum — London, UK

Focus: World History & Culture

Annual Attendance: 6.7 Million

The first national public museum in the world, it has always been free to visit and is where some of the most important artifacts, in relation to global history, permanently reside. Take for example the Rosetta stone which was used to help translate Egyptian Hieroglyphs or the Elgin marbles from the ruins of the Greek Parthenon. The museum itself has become a sight to behold when in the year 2000, renovations were completed to the Queen Elizabeth II Great Court which is a glass domed inner courtyard of epic beauty and proportion. Being Britain's most visited museum it saw 6.7 million visitors through its doors in 2014.

4. National Air and Space Museum — Washington, DC, USA

Focus: Aviation

Annual Attendance: 6.7 Million

Focused on human flight, this museum is the largest collection of such artifacts and has a sister site in Virginia. A free museum that holds images of the first aircraft as well as the actual Discovery space shuttle. 6.7 million went to the DC sight in 2014 but if you combine it with its Virgina site as well, that figure goes up to 8 million.

3. National Museum of Natural History — Washington, DC, USA

Focus: Natural History

Annual Attendance: 7.3 Million


Natural science specimens galore are what the Nation Museum of Natural History is known for and with 30 million pinned insects, 4.5 million pressed plants, 7 million fish, and 400,000 photographs, you can see why. Opened in 1910, the museum is America's most visited with 7.3 million visitors in 2014.

2.  National Museum of China — Beijing, China

Focus: Chinese History

Annual Attendance: 7.6 Million

The youngest of the museums on this list, the National Museum of China came about when the pre-existing National Museum of Chinese History and the National Museum of Chinese Revolution merged to form just the one museum. Spanning ancient Chinese history, through to Mao's revolution and to present day, it contains artifacts such as the jade dragon from 6000-5000 BC, and the flag raised by Mao Zedong at the Proclamation of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

1. The Louvre — Paris, France

Focus: Classical Art

Annual Attendance: 9.3 Million

Well known for its glass pyramid that punctures the sky, The Louvre is the most visited museum in the world with annual attendances hitting around the 9.3 million mark. With around 70,000 pieces of art in its 650,000 square feet of gallery space, it is one of the largest museums in the world and thus holds many artistic masterpieces.

© 2017