Museums recovering slowly from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic

The Art Newspaper has published its Visitor Figures Survey for 2022 which shows that museums are struggling to regain visitors after the Covid closures.

Some 141 million visits were made to the world’s top 100 art museums in 2022, which is double the number recorded the previous year but significantly down on the 230 million visits enjoyed in 2019.

Paris' Louvre Museum was the world's most visited art museum welcoming 7,726,321 visitors in 2022.  Up 173% on the 2021 number of visitors, this was still significantly down on the 9.6 million who visited in 2019.

There were bright spots. In Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton saw its figures rise by a third, from just over a million in 2019 to almost 1.4 million last year, helped by its blockbuster exhibition of the Morozov Collection, which had a staggering 1.2 million visitors. An exhibition about Matisse’s The Red Studio painting helped the National Gallery of Denmark in Copenhagen achieve its highest ever attendance, as it welcomed more than 492,000 visitors, while the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest saw an increase of 47% on 2019, helped by a Hieronymus Bosch blockbuster, the second most popular exhibition in the museum’s history.

However, London's museums in particular still have a long way to go to regain the number of visitors they had in 2019.  The British Museum reported 4.1 million visitors, more than three times higher than in 2021, when it received 1.3 million. However this number is still more than a third down on its 2019 number of 6.2 million.  

Despite mounting popular Raphael and Freud exhibitions, the National Gallery had the dubious honour of having lost more visitors than any other museum surveyed, with nearly 3.3 million fewer visitors in 2022 than in 2019, the last year before Covid-19 hit. 

National Gallery London

London museums attribute the reduction to several factors most notably the reduction of international tourism, extreme weather in 2022 and transport strikes.