The 20 Most Popular Museums in the World
From the Met to the Louvre and everything in between, these are the museums that travelers visited the most in 2017.
This Parisian staple took the top spot as the world's most popular museum in 2017's Theme Index and Museum Index, a collaboration between Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM. The Louvre, the biggest museum in the world, is home to 380,000 pieces of art in total. It would be humanly impossible to see all of the museum in one visit...or even 100! Surely one of the biggest draws at this former castle is Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa. Did you know that the Mona Lisa is also one of the most expensive things to ever be stolen?
National Museum of China
Located in Beijing, the National Museum of China was 2016's most popular museum but dropped to the number two spot for 2017. With eight million visitors, it makes sense that the museum chose to ditch paper tickets—now visitors no longer have to wait in a line that was previously up to one mile long before enjoying the exhibitions. Directed by the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China, the museum's mission is to educate about the arts and history of China. If you think you've seen it all, check out these weird museums you never knew existed!
National Air and Space Museum
Located in Washington, D.C., the National Air and Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian. Founded in 1946 under the name National Air Museum, its first major artifact was the biplane used for the Wright brothers' first successful flight in 1903. The museum is in the midst of a seven-year renovation; while it will remain open throughout, some of its big draws are being temporarily relocated to its Chantilly, Virginia location, the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Famously referred to as simply "The Met," New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the world's largest and finest art museums, with a collection that includes more than two million works of art spanning more than 5,000 years. Pieces come from around the world, including the Temple of Dendur, which dates back to 10 B.C., and John Singer Sargent's Madame X. Prefer attractions that are more off the beaten path? Don't miss these 11 New York City hidden gems.
Located in Vatican City, the Vatican Museums feature art and cultural artifacts gathered by popes over the centuries. You'll find masterpieces of painting, sculpture, and other works of art, including the Sistine Chapel, the Niccoline Chapel, the Raphael Rooms and Loggia, and the Borgia Apartment. Check out these 10 forbidden places around the world no one is allowed to visit.
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Opened in 2001, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is dedicated to the popularization of science, with an overall theme of "harmony of nature, mankind, and technology." There are 13 main permanent exhibition halls and four science theaters, and some of the highlights include the World of Robots, Space Navigation, Information Era, and Animal Hall.
National Museum of Natural History
Located in Washington, D.C., this Smithsonian museum houses more than 126 million specimens and cultural artifacts, including 30 million insects and 400,000 photographs. One of its main draws is the Hope Diamond, a legendary 45-plus-carat blue diamond that once belonged to King Louis XIV of France.
Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the first national public museum in the world. Located in the Bloomsbury area of London, it's home to many significant artifacts and works of art, including the Rosetta Stone. Its Greek Revival facade, featuring 44 columns in the Ionic order, was built to resemble the temple of Athena Polias at Priene.
Opened in 2000, this London museum has seen 40 million visitors walk through its doors. It's home to masterpieces of international modern art, including Pablo Picasso's The Three Dancers and Salvador Dali's Autumnal Cannibalism. Try to spot the hidden messages in these 10 famous paintings.
National Gallery of Art
This Washington, D.C. museum has more than 130,000 works tracing the development of Western Art. It's also home to the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas, Ginevra de' Benci, which is on display in the West Building.