Taiwan and China sneak into list of world’s most popular museums

MUSEUMS can change lives. But don’t just take our word for it. According to a study by the Smithsonian, museums can boost critical thinking and cultural mobility among frequent visitors.

Asia is not short of museums, some spectacular, others strange. The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) recently released numbers on the world’s most visited museums, those which recorded the highest numbers in attendance.

SEE ALSO: The strangest museums in Japan

Although the US and Europe expectedly dominated much of the list, Asia’s most visited museum and the world’s second most popular is The National Museum of China in Beijing, clocking in 7.3 million visitors last year.

The museum – in the east of Tiananmen Square – is a treasure trove of cultural relics, artworks, exhibitions, history, art research and public education materials.

At number eight is the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, which saw just under six million visitors last year. The theatres in the museum are said to be the largest science education cinemas in Asia, with over 10,000 films screened annually.

Besides that, the museum is home to interactive exhibits including World of Robots where visitors can witness a robot playing the piano, and the Light of Exploration featuring significant scientific achievements of the 20th century.

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

The National Palace Museum in Taiwan. Pic: Wikimedia Commons

Rounding up the top ten is Taiwan’s National Palace Museum that houses nearly 700,000 pieces of ancient Chinese artefacts and artworks that date back to 10,000 years of Chinese history, including prized items from China’s ancient emperors.

Here’s the top ten list of the world’s most visited museums:

  1. The Louvre, Paris
  2. The National Museum of China, Beijing
  3. National Museum of Natural History, Washington D.C.
  4. National Air and Space Museum, Washington D.C.
  5. British Museum, London
  6. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
  7. Vatican Museum, Vatican City
  8. Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, Shanghai
  9. National Gallery, London
  10. National Palace Museum, Taiwan

According to TEA, Asia has seen a rapid growth in museum numbers owing to increasing income levels and a growing middle class, as well as a strong tourism push. It’s expected attendance of general attractions such as parks and museums in Asia may overtake the Americas by 2020.