List of the Top Ten Art Museums in the World Lists, (Re)Listed

Le Louvres

If one item on your bucket list is to visit all the great art museums, then you may as well start at the top. Finding a list of the best art museums in the world is not hard, because, like opinions, everybody has a one and they’re all different. So, as I soon learned, finding a definitive top ten list; the list behind the lists, is more difficult to find. A google search for the “top ten art museums in the world” rendered about 94,600,000 results. That means maybe one truly relevant result and, with a little cut and paste, 94,599,999 different versions. It’s like trying to find a needle in a haw stack. but, using rocket science and a passion to fix things that are not broken, I have developed a definitive list that provides a clearer snapshot of art museum ranking. First, I narrowed my search down to the first ten results.  Assuming that, as you would expect, the 1st search result is the most relevant and the 10th result is the least relevant(which may or may not be true). I was directed to ten different websites, each unique in content and none art-related (with the possible exception of Each site featured an article or a post called the “top ten art museums in the world”, or the “ten best art museums…” or the “most visited art museums…,” or something like that. The websites include:











The sites are ranked here in the same order that they appear in google search results. (Actually, rankings here are a mote subject since they changes in a heart beat, but the first ten relevant results will suffice.) These are all unique websites with a decent following (I assume), and a good reputation for delivering quality content (again, I assume). Several sites acknowledged a source. uses a list compiled by tripadvisor compiled this list based on their arcane formulations. Since it was not in the top ten search results, remains on top. (# 6) uses a list from (# 5), so it was removed from the above list and another site, (#11) was added to the bottom of the search results to maintain a roster of ten. As it turned out, did not have a list of the top ten art museums in the world. Rather, the site carried an article on the top ten cities for art-lovers. was eliminated and another website, (#12), was added. (#7) did not have a top ten list either, so it was eliminated and (#13) was added. Scanning the lists I discovered three websites have the same top ten list (probably not a coincidence), but the sources were not mentioned. They include:




So, I had ten websites with top ten lists that indexed a total of 20 unique art museums. Here they are in alphabetical order:

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

British Museum, London, England

Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Egyptian Museum, Cairo, Egypt

State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, California

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York

Musée Du Louvre, Paris, France

Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain

Museum of Modern Art New York, NY

National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

National Gallery, London, England

National Museum of Korea, Seoul, South Korea

National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan

Smithsonian Institute, Washington DC

Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Tate Modern, London, England

Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

So, with the exception of three websites, all the top ten lists are different, but here, it’s the similarities that are important. For example, the Louvre is #1 on all ten lists, the Vatican Museums are #2 on 7 lists, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art is #3 on 7 lists. Based on this hard arithmetic it wasn’t difficult to complete the list. If you look at each museum listing as a vote, then the ranking is as follows:

1. Musée Du Louvre

2. Vatican Museums

3. Metropolitan Museum of Art

4. Uffizi Gallery

5. British Museum

6. Prado

7. Egyptian Museum

8. Hermitage

9. Musée d’Orsay

10. Rijksmuseum 

While surfing the google results again, I stumbled on a Wikipedia page entitled “Most Visited Art Museums”. This gem was languishing away in the bowels of google’s information black hole. It was compiled by The Art Newspaper and is based on 2010 attendance records from major museum around the world. This list excludes the Vatican Museums, the Palace Museum in Beijing, and the National Palace Museum in Taipei from their survey. Also, its ranking on the search engine leads me to question its relevance and the use of attendance as a sole determining factor in museum ranking. A quick scan of this list reveals that it matches the lists on the three websites mentioned above. What does this all mean? What about the other 10 museums? Is this an exercise in futility? I don’t know. Probably so.

Do you think attendance should be the sole criterion for ranking art museums? What other measurements can be established to rank art museums in a fair and realistic fashion? In my next blog I will exercise futility a little more by answering these burning questions and more.  artbliss looks forward to your comments.

One comment on “List of the Top Ten Art Museums in the World Lists, (Re)Listed

  1. It’s interesting to see the different perspectives on different museums. Chicago’s Art Institute landed on some lists, but not on the final cut. I can’t get enough of “American Gothic” there.I’d also vote for the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago–it’s hard to beat an intact Nazi submarine. The Smithsonian isn’t a museum at all, but a bunch of different museums–something for everyone! At the Air and Space Museum you can see a Space Shuttle!

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