Celebrity and fashion boost museum and gallery visitors in 2018

The Art Newspaper’s annual international survey, Art’s Most Popular, shows that fame sells, as it reveals 2018’s most visited shows and museums.

The survey suggests that celebrity is seemingly the best way to get visitors to museums and galleries.

Annual visitor numbers to the Louvre increased by 26 percent, with the attraction crediting the popularity of Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s music video ‘Apesh*t’, which was shot in the Louvre.

At the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington, a pair of portraits of President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle, by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, brought in a million more visitors.

Elsewhere, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition, Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination, set a new record by attracting almost 1.7 million people.

The Met’s Heavenly Bodies mixed religious works of art with haute couture.

The survey also found that the Tate Modern is Britain’s top arts attraction, with 5.9 million visitors in 2018, knocking the British Museum off the top spot, a position it had held for the past nine years.

The V&A drew in 178,000 more visitors than the previous year (3.9 million visitors), with 2018 exhibits including Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up, and a show about Winnie the Pooh, and a celebration of the work of fashion designers Balenciaga and Mary Quant.

Meanwhile, the Smithsonian and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) will collaborate on V&A East, a new museum and a collection and research center in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

The new centres will open in 2023 as part of East Bank, the £1.1bn powerhouse of culture, education, innovation and growth currently coming together as part of the Olympic legacy.

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