10 Largest Museums In The World

By Sky Ariella - May. 21, 2021

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People of all ages enjoy the culture and learning experience of visiting a beautiful museum. Getting to be close to ancient artifacts, pieces of invaluable art, or the skeletons of a prehistoric beast is enough to liven up any afternoon.

Across the globe, there are approximately 55,000 museums that each have their own unique specialty. Some even have strange focuses, like The Dog Collar Museum in England or The Salt and Pepper Shaker Museum in Tennessee.

Out of all of these thousands of interesting and weird attractions, there are ten that have made their way to the top of the list as the largest museums in the world based on the number of people who visit them annually.

  1. National Museum of China. Beijing, China

    Year Established: 2003

    Visitors Per Year: 100.3 Million

    The National Museum of China focuses on educating visitors about Chinese history. It’s organized and managed by a sector of the government called the Ministry of Culture to disclose their collection of 1.3 million Chinese art and historical pieces.

    Even though the National Museum of China is the most frequented museum in the world, it’s also relatively young.

    It was established as the result of a merger between the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the National Museum of Chinese History in 2003. Previously, the two museums occupied the same building so as to share their knowledge since 1959.

    The National Museum of China regularly updated its collection. In 2011 they brought 28 brand new exhibits to life. Some of the many impressive pieces in the National Museum of China include:

    • A Han Dynasty jade burial suit laced with gold

    • A porcelain vase from the Qing Dynasty

    • The Olympic Gold Medal of Xu Haifeng

    • Ancient coins

    • Ji Zibai Plate of the Guo State

    The National Museum of China presents these wonders to an audience of 100 million visitors every year, which constitutes them as the largest museum in the world.

  2. The Smithsonian Institution. Washington D.C., United States

    Year Established: 1846

    Visitors Per Year: 22 Million

    The Smithsonian Institution has been welcoming visitors from around the world for 175 years for educational purposes and cultural immersion. Its creator, James Smithson, formed the museum as “an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” It’s done just that for millions of people.

    The Smithsonian Institution actually consists of 19 different museums and the National Zoo. Some of these sub-museums include:

    • Smithsonian American Art Museum

    • National Museum of American History

    • National Museum of African American Culture and History

    • National Portrait Gallery

    • Smithsonian Gardens

    The Smithsonian Institute is different from any other museum because of its scope of historical and cultural focuses.

    In addition to allowing people to wander these museum attractions, The Smithsonian still contributes to its original purpose of expanding knowledge by being one of the world’s leading research centers in science, arts, and humanities.

  3. Le Louvre. Paris, France

    Year Established: 1793

    Visitors Per Year: 10.2 Million

    Le Louvre had a colorful history before it became the enormous museum that it is today. It was originally constructed in 1190 to serve as a fortress and was later converted to be a royal palace.

    As the years went by, more additions were constructed on the building until it eventually became the magnificent Louvre museum in 1793. Napoleon Bonaparte played a big role in maintaining Le Louvre to ensure that it stood the test of time, which it has.

    Much like many of the other notable museums on the list, Le Louvre has a powerful collection. Some of the items that they proudly feature includes:

    • Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures

    • Egyptian antiques

    • Pre-100 European paintings

    • French crown jewels and noble artifacts

    The most famous piece that you can find at Le Louvre is the knowing smile of the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. This piece alone brings thousands of visitors to Le Louvre daily.

  4. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York City, United States

    Year Established: 1870

    Visitors Per Year: 6.5 Million

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art is dedicated to conserving and showcasing important artworks from history and the modern era. Their commitment has created an art collection of over two million pieces.

    It’s the largest museum in the United States in terms of building size, visitors per year, and the extent of its artwork collection. The entire museum covers a full mile of Manhattan on the Upper East Side.

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art has sculptures, paintings, and other artworks from around the world. In addition to the traditional artwork featured at the Met, the collection is also comprised of:

    • Musical instruments

    • Wearable accessories

    • Weapons and armor

    • Costumes

    • Photographs

    The culmination of works spanning 5,000 years that live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art draws in over six million people to explore yearly.

  5. British Museum. London, United Kingdom

    Year Established: 1753

    Visitors Per Year: 5.9 Million

    Another famous museum that’s located in the United Kingdom is aptly named The British Museum. However, the museum’s contents are a lot more extensive than the National Gallery. The British Museum currently holds eight million pieces of history, art, and cultural artifacts. This collection is the largest in existence around the entire world.

    Some of the pieces included in The British Museum include:

    • The Inner Coffin of Hornedjitef

    • Goddess Tara Statue

    • A Shield from West Papua

    • The Lycurgus Cup

    • The Rosetta Stone

  6. The National Gallery. London, United Kingdom

    Year Established: 1824

    Visitors Per Year: 5.2 Million

    For museum-goers whose preference is for paintings, the National Gallery in London is the ideal attraction for you. The National Gallery boasts well over 2,000 paintings that come from as early as the 13th-century. This huge collection is courtesy of the British public government, and a trip to the main collection of paintings is free of charge.

    The National Gallery’s collection features notable paintings from a variety of important artists in history, like:

    • Leonardo da Vinci

    • Jan van Eyck

    • Johannes Vermeer

    • Claude Monet

    • Rembrandt

    This extensive museum collection allows you to move closer and personal with some of the artwork from the European history courses, which draws in nearly six million visitors per year.

  7. Vatican Museums. Vatican City Rome, Italy

    Year Established: 1506

    Visitors Per Year: 5 Million

    Centered in the same city as the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican Museums are one of the oldest attractions of its kind. It was officially established more than 500 years ago, but it remains one of the largest and most heavily trafficked museums in the world.

    The museum’s collection mainly displays artwork and sculptures that were stockpiled by the Roman Catholic Church. This includes:

    • A collection of Modern Religious Art by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, etc.

    • The Prima Porta Augustus

    • The Greek Cross Gallery

    • The Cabinet of Masks

    • Leonardo da Vinci’s Saint Jerome in The Wilderness

    The art, statues, and beautiful architecture of the Vatican Museums bring in over five million eager visitors a year who are dying to see these relics of the past world.

  8. National Palace Museum. Taipei, Taiwan

    Year Established: 1925

    Visitors Per Year: 3.8 Million

    If you want to know what it feels like to be immersed in 700,000 pieces of art and mementos from ancient imperial China, then the National Palace Museum is a must-see.

    The majority of this museum’s collections have been acquired from the belongings of former Chinese emperors. These pieces originally resided in China but were moved to Taiwan to protect them during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.

    As a result, the National Palace Museum has a litany of precious Chinese historical artifacts, which include a total of:

    • 25,592 Ceramic Pieces

    • 666 Carvings

    • 6,953 Coins

    • 12,495 Religious, Accessory, and Costume Items

    • 6,721 Paintings

    • 216,507 Rare Books

    The amount of history and cultural items that can be experienced in a single day at the National Palace Museum for approximately $12 is astounding. It has contributed to it becoming one of the largest museums in the world.

  9. National Museum of Korea. Seoul, South Korea

    Year Established: 1909

    Visitors Per Year: 3.5 Million

    The National Museum of Korea is a testament to the culture, history, and artwork of South Korea. It was designed with incredible care and consideration for the layout. Divided into three floors, the exhibits are separated to represent South Korea’s past, present, and future.

    The museum has a huge collection of artifacts that represent the history and culture of South Korea, such as:

    • Pensive Bodhisattva Statue

    • Twelfth-Century Incense Burner

    • Album of Genre Painting by Danwon

    • An 800 AD Burial Urn

    The National Museum of Korea has managed to maintain these pieces of their history throughout wars and the test of time. Today, it attracts visitors from all over the world to see its sizable collection.

  10. National Museum of Anthropology. Mexico City, Mexico

    Year Established: 1964

    Visitors Per Year: 2.5 Million

    The study of Anthropology seeks to further understand humans as a species and the way we exist across different times and places.

    It’s a specialty that explores humanity, diversity, and the ways that these things are expressed in different corners of the planet. The National Museum of Anthropology serves as Mexico’s premier and most visited museum.

    The museum has the word ‘Anthropology’ in its title because it contains many important anthropological and archaeological artifacts of Mexico’s history. Some of these prominent artifacts include:

    • The Aztec Sun Stone Calendar

    • Moctezuma’s Headdress

    • Statue of Xochipilli

    • A replica of Pakal’s Tomb

    The National Museum of Anthropology provides 23 exhibit rooms that are dedicated to demonstrating the culture across various areas in Mexico. Its history, artifacts, and culture bring in an estimated 2.5 million visitors every year.

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Sky Ariella

Author

Sky Ariella

Sky Ariella is a professional freelance writer, originally from New York. She has been featured on websites and online magazines covering topics in career, travel, and lifestyle. She received her BA in psychology from Hunter College.

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