Visitor numbers at the world’s top 100 museums and art galleries plunged by 77 percent last year, down from 230 million in 2019 to just 54 million as the COVID-19 pandemic forced closure on an unprecedented scale.
The survey carried out annually by the Art Newspaper for more than 20 years is normally an upbeat one, highlighting which museums had good years and what the most popular exhibitions were, whether in London, New York or Sao Paulo.
The figures for last year, published on Tuesday, were sobering, with museums and galleries ravaged by enforced closure, plummeting visitor numbers and enormous falls in revenue.
The Louvre in Paris maintained its position as the world’s most visited museum thanks largely to the tail end of its Leonardo exhibition, which drew more than 10,000 visitors a day before closing in February last year. Over the year, the museum had 2.7 million visits, down 72 percent from 2019 with an estimated income loss of 90 million euros (US$105.6 million).
Alison Cole, the editor of the Art Newspaper, said it was worth remembering that “in a normal year more than 9 million people would jostle to see the Mona Lisa at the Louvre.”
Tate Modern in London, which staged exhibitions including Andy Warhol and Bruce Nauman, was second in the popularity table with 1.4 million visits, down 77 percent. It was closed for 173 days and said it lost 56 million pounds (US$77 million) in revenue. It pipped the British Museum as the most visited UK museum or art gallery, which can be explained by Tate Modern having remained open for more days in the year.
The British Museum, which has held the UK top spot for nine out of the last 10 years, was fourth in the global list. It was closed for 208 days — roughly seven months — with visitor numbers down 80 percent to 1.3 million.
Third in the popularity table were the Vatican Museums, with visitor numbers down 81 percent. Fifth was the Reina Sofia in Madrid, which was closed for only 80 days. That compares with 155 days for the National Gallery in London (7th) and 202 days for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (8th).
The most visited Asian museum in the survey was Japan’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa (9th). It was only closed for 66 days but still recorded a 63 percent drop in visitor numbers.
Cole said the impact of the pandemic on museums had been disastrous and the general mood remained bleak.
“While there is happy anticipation of a May 17 reopening date in the UK, reduced capacity due to COVID measures and a dearth of tourists mean that most large museums are looking at four years until they get back to pre-pandemic health.”
The Art Newspaper said there was a combined total of 41,000 days of enforced closure for the world’s top museums equating to “112 years of missed visits and hundreds of millions of pounds in lost revenue.”
In the US the picture varies from state to state, the survey reveals. Closures there ranged from 75 days (Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas) to 225 days (Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC).
New Zealand, one of the success stories in dealing with the pandemic, has come out comparatively well in the survey, with museums closed for less time than the global average and, when they reopened, few limits on capacity. The least affected of its leading museums was the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu, which closed for 54 days and recorded a 28 percent drop in visitors.
Other British museums in the survey include the V&A, 13th most popular with 215 days of closure and a visitor fall of 78 percent; and the National Museum of Scotland, 40th in the list with 159 days of closure and an 80 percent fall in visitors.
Not on the list is the National Portrait Gallery in London, which, the survey’s authors note, “chose the perfect time for a planned closure of three years.”
In Normal Accidents, Charles Perrow’s classic analysis of technological systems and the accidents they foster, Perrow observes that “when we have interactive systems that are tightly coupled, it is ‘normal’ for them to have this kind of accident, even though it is infrequent.” Such accidents are an “inherent property” of technological systems, and we have them because our industrial society is full of tightly coupled, interactive systems with great potential for catastrophe. Here in Taiwan the omnipresence of tightly coupled systems — systems in which a failure in one leads to failure in another — operating in an atmosphere of
Over a million years in the making, the outdoor playground that is Kaohsiung’s Shoushan (壽山), commonly known as “Monkey Mountain,” is a rich geological and ecological resource that visitors to the city should be sure not to miss. Many are familiar with the area’s hiking trails and resident monkey population, but even locals may be surprised to learn of the extensive system of caves here, full of classic examples of speleothems like stalactites, stalagmites, draperies and flowstones, as well as cave-dwelling fauna. These caves are the result of hundreds of thousands of years of erosion slowly dissolving the mountain’s limestone.
April 12 to April 18 Hsieh Hsueh-hung (謝雪紅) stuffed her suitcase with Japanese toys and celebrity photos as she departed from Tokyo in February 1928. She knew she would be inspected by Japanese custom officials upon arrival in Shanghai, and hoped that the items would distract them from the papers hidden in her clothes. Penned with invisible ink on thin sheets, it was the charter of the Taiwanese Communist Party (台灣共產黨, TCP), which Hsieh and her companions would launch on April 15 under the directive of the Soviet-led Communist International with the support of their Chinese, Japanese
The Brave Girls were losing courage just weeks ago, on the verge of breaking up and abandoning their dreams of K-pop stardom after years of going nowhere. Then a pseudonymous YouTuber called Viditor uploaded a compilation of them performing on South Korean army bases — and saved their careers. Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ rollin’/I am waiting for you/Babe just only you, they chant, as wildly enthusiastic uniformed conscripts dance and wave glow-sticks. It went viral and struck millions of chords across the country. Less than a month later the song reached number one in South Korea and topped the Billboard K-pop 100 in