The top four Google-searched museums of 2012: The Metropolitan Museum, Philadelphia Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, and the De Young Museum (images from Wikipedia)

For its annual Zeitgeist Report, Google has listed everything that the entire world has Google-searched for most often this year. Art isn’t much in evidence, but we do have a list of the top 10 US museums of 2012.

The Metropolitan Museum, probably our country’s most famous museum of visual art, makes the top spot, while the Philadelphia Museum of Art comes in second. Notably absent is the Museum of Modern Art, but then this list isn’t just about art museums — five out of the 10 institutions listed are science-oriented, like the Museum of Natural History and San Francisco’s Exploratorium.

  1. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  2. Philadelphia Museum of Art
  3. National Gallery of Art
  4. De Young Museum
  5. Museum of Science Boston
  6. California Science center
  7. Museum of Natural History
  8. Chicago Museum of Science
  9. Museum of Fine Arts Boston
  10. Exploratorium

It is worth noting that some of these “museums” don’t actually exist, like the Chicago Museum of Science. Sadly, Google doesn’t tell us which artists were the most Googled this year. There are no artists in the People list (winner: Whitney Houston) nor is there any art among the most-searched Images (One Direction takes the gold). “What is Planking,” which may be considered a kind of performance art, takes tenth in the What is…? list, with Instagram ahead at number five.

Erotica bestsellers Fifty Shades Darker and Bared to You take the two top book spots (duh), but author EL James only makes fifth place on the Authors list. Charles Duhigg, who wrote The Power of Habit, takes first place.

I’m slightly more cheered to see that Mitt Romney’s promise to kill Big Bird by defunding PBS made the top Political Gaffe, while his “47 percent” and “Binders full of women” comments took two and three, giving Romney the sweep.

Oh, and just so you know, the Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver, an eyeless spider, was the most-Googled endangered species. Apparently it stopped a Texas highway project. Go save it! (If you actually want to.)

The Braken Bat Cave Meshweaver (Image via

The full Google report can be found here.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...