The Covid-19 pandemic shook up the art world, but nothing can shake the Musée du Louvre’s grip on the top of our visitor figures survey. Every year we ask the world’s art museums how many visitors they received over the preceding year, and every year the Louvre comes out on top.
The Louvre reported receiving 7,726,321 visitors in 2022. While this is down 20% on the 9.6 million people who visited in 2019, it is 173% up on 2021. The Louvre received over 2.5 million more visitors than the second-placed institution in our survey, the Vatican Museums.
Indeed, while museums elsewhere are struggling to regain their pre-pandemic visitors, the Louvre has decided to limit numbers to ensure a tolerable experience. They have decided to limit daily entries to 30,000, which should stabilise attendance at between 7.5 million and 8.5 million in 2023. This is similar to the level the museum experienced 17 years ago, and a big drop from the over 10 million who visited in 2018.
Other Paris museums also performed strongly in our survey. The Musée d’Orsay came sixth with 3.3 million visitors, just 10% down on 2019. The Centre Pompidou came ninth with 3 million, just 8% down. The Musée de l’Orangerie and the Musée du Quai Branly were both also within 10% of their 2019 figure.
Some French institutions even did better than before the pandemic. 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. The Petit Palais jumped by 14% to 1.1 million.
Historic houses and palaces are not included in our list, but the Palace of Versailles welcomed 6.9 million visitors in 2022.
The Louvre only retained its number one spot in 2021 due to a statistical quirk. Chinese state-run museums report their visitor numbers too late to be included in our survey. If they had, then the Louvre would have been toppled by the Guangdong Museum in Guangzhou, which received 3.8 million visitors in 2021. But with strict zero-Covid rules affecting Chinese visitor numbers, that is likely to have been a one off.