Attendance survey 2012: Tour de force show puts Tokyo on top

Javier Pes / Emily Sharpe
Attendance survey 2012: Tour de force show puts Tokyo on top

The Art Newspaper, April 2013 [extracts]

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The art of today might overshadow the art of the past in the salerooms and university lecture halls, but in the temporary exhibition galleries of museums worldwide, Old Masters still punch their weight, albeit when they travel a long way from home. Top of our international survey of exhibition attendance during 2012 was a show of Dutch Old Masters that started a world tour in Japan.

The top ten shows around the world in 2012

Top Old Master show: “Masterpieces from the Mauritshuis” at the Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum received around 10,573 visitors per day (758,266 total) The main attraction of the Mauritshuis show, which also visited Kobe, was Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring
Also in Japan’s capital city, 400 year’s-worth of European art lent by St Petersburg’s Hermitage did not disappoint at the box office of the National Art Center (5,362 visitors a day).

It was a different story in the leading ­museums of New York, London and Paris, where contemporary and Modern art dominated the city’s top shows. Around 5,700 visitors a day went to see the Cindy Sherman exhibition organised by the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In London, David Hockney’s large-scale works on canvas and iPad attracted 7,512 visitors a day to the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) while in Paris Daniel Buren’s installation in the Grand Palais for Monumenta drew 6,498 visitors a day. “Leonardo” at the National Gallery was the highest ranking show to feature pre-20th century art in London’s top ten (3,856 a day). It required the appearance of Saint Anne by Leonardo, billed as his “ultimate masterpiece”, at the Louvre for a show of older art to make the top ten in Paris, and then only just in ninth (3,985 visitors a day).

The appetite of Brazilians for exhibitions is remarkable, as we noted in last year’s survey, especially for the (non-charging) shows organised by the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil. The exhibition halls in its Rio de Janeiro space were crowded thanks to an ambitious visual history of the Amazon, its best attended show, at 7,928 visitors a day, followed by the British artist Antony Gormley’s sculpture (6,909 a day). When Impressionist works from Paris’s Musée d’Orsay visited the bank’s cultural centre in São Paulo, they attracted just short of 6,000 visitors a day. The Rio leg of the tour, which ended in January and so will appear in the survey next year, attracted almost 8,000 visitors a day, confirming the Orsay’s faith in Latin America as a lucrative tour destination besides Asia.

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