“Heavenly Bodies” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Cloisters, New York: gallery view, Romanesque Hall (image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is famed internationally — tourists from around the world flock to the New York Institute to explore galleries of ancient and modern art. Over the years, the institution has grown to host three locations — The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Cloisters, and The Met Breuer. As 2019 begins, and institutions recount their past years, the Met has officially announced its monumental visitor records for 2018. Over 7.36 million visitors have passed through its exhibitions, largely drawn in by landmark exhibitions like Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination at The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters, and the tail ends of highly-publicized shows like Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman and Designer and David Hockney.

The Met says Heavenly Bodies attracted record-breaking numbers for an exhibition, with 1,659,647 visitors passing through the exhibition’s two locations between May 10 and October 8, 2018. The exhibition was dispersed throughout both of the museum venues.

The high attendance rates maintained despite the Museum’s controversial decision this year to institute a mandatory $25 admission fee for adults without identification as residents or students of New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut.

Locals cultivated their art museum intake this year with 32% of visitors coming from the five boroughs, and 13% from the New York tri-state area. This year, 34% of the Museum’s visitors were international tourists (14% of those tourists hailed from China). 

“It’s inspiring to know that New Yorkers and visitors from around the world are engaging with the vast array of exhibitions, programs, and activities we have available, and it’s a wonderful tribute to the power of art in the world today,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of the Met, in a January 4 press release. “The Met’s staff — curators, educators, scientists, conservators, and others — made remarkable contributions in 2018, and the team became even stronger this summer when we welcomed Max Hollein as our new director.”

Beyoncé and Jay-Z in a gallery at the Louvre

Beyoncé and Jay-Z in a gallery at the Louvre (screenshot by Hyperallergic via the “Apeshit” by The Carters music video on Youtube)

Despite the Met’s impressive figures, this year the Louvre broke the world record for annual museum visits — likely with a little help from Beyoncé and Jay-Z and their epic, artful music video filmed in the museum. Over 10.2 million visitors passed through the Parisian museum this year — more than 25 percent more than the previous year. The Louvre surpassed its own record — 9.7 million visitors in 2012 — by half a million patrons.

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Jasmine Weber

Jasmine Weber is an artist, writer, and former news editor at Hyperallergic. Follow her on Instagram and