With nearly 7.6 million visitors in 2016, the National Museum of China for the first time has claimed the title of most popular museum in the world, according to a new industry report released in early June.
The annual report, titled “Theme and Museum Index: Global Attendance Report,” was produced by Themed Entertainment Association and the engineering firm AECOM. It ranks the world’s major theme parks, water parks and museums according to one solitary standard: attendance.
Washington’s National Air and Space Museum took second place in the most recent ranking with 7.5 million visits, while the Louvre in Paris earned third place. The National Museum of China ranked second, behind the Louvre, on last year’s list.
Three major factors drove the museum to the top of the list: sheer population size, free admission and its location in a major tourist city. China continues its transition to free admission for all government-owned museums, meaning that attendance levels are expected to continue to rise, the report stated.
Although the museums sector in Asia had a good year overall, with 3.1 percent attendance growth in 2016, Taiwan’s National Palace Museum saw an 11.8 percent decline, the largest drop in the number of visitors in the Asia-Pacific region. That was likely due to a significant decrease in tourists from the Chinese mainland, who accounted for up to 80 percent of visitors to the museum in the recent years, the report suggested.