Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on May 2010

From the collection of Kohfukuji Temple, Nara

Anyone who waded through the sea of humanity that was last year’s “Ashura” exhibit probably wondered if there could possibly be a more crowded museum—the answer, it seems, is “no.” According to the April 2010 issue of The Art Newspaper, “Ashura” was the most heavily attended exhibition in the world. In terms of overall numbers, heavy hitters like the Louvre and the British Museum are still the tops, drawing 8,500,000 and 5,569,981 visitors in 2009, respectively. But on a per-exhibition basis, Japan’s museums decimate the competition.

  1. “Ashura and Masterpieces from Kohfukuji,” Tokyo National Museum (15,960 daily; 946,172 total)
  2. “61st Annual Exhibition of Shoso-in Treasures,” Nara National Museum (14,965 daily; 299,294 total)
  3. “Treasures of the Imperial Collections,” Tokyo National Museum (9,473 daily; 447,944 total)
  4. “17th-Century Painting from the Louvre,” National Museum of Western Art, Tokyo (9,267 daily; 851,256 total)
  5. “2nd Photoquai Biennale,” Musée Quai Branly, Paris (7,868 daily; 419,256 total)
  6. “Picasso and the Masters,” Grand Palais, Paris (7,270 daily; 783,352 total)
  7. “Kandinsky,” Centre Pompidou, Paris (6,553 daily; 703,000 total)
  8. “Jean Miro: Painting and Anti-Painting,” MoMA, New York (6,299 daily; 377,068 total)
  9. “Pipilotti Rist: Pour Your Body Out,” MoMA, New York (6,186 daily; 391,476 total)
  10. “Treasures of the Habsburg Monarchy,” National Art Center, Tokyo (5,609 daily; 390,219 total)