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Top 20 North American Museums by Attendance (2016)


The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) and AECOM published the TEA/AECOM 2016 Theme Index and Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report, a study of attendance at the world's most visited theme parks, amusement parks, waterparks and museums.

In the 5th year of studying Museum attendance, this report is able to track trends and market share over time. Museums are mission-driven organizations and beacons of culture, arts, history, science, education, and entertainment. But they serve a changed and changing world. North America is a stable, mature market, and fluctuations in museum attendance tend to be driven by popular temporary exhibits. In recent years, museums have changed in response to the impact of the recession, technology, demographic and market shifts and the loss of government funding. More changes are expected.

In North America, top performers in North America still include many of the free institutions, including the National Air and Space Museum and the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. The largest paid museums are the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Exceptionally strong, double-digit year-over-year percentage increases in attendance were seen at the Field Museum of Natural History and the Art Institute in Chicago, the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

The Top 20 Museums in North America are:

Top 20 Museums in North America
Museum, Location
Change 2016 2015
National Air and Space Museum,
Washington, DC, USA
8.7% 7,500,000 6,900,000
2 National Museum of Natural History,
Washington, DC, USA
2.9% 7,100,000 6,900,000
The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York, NY, USA
6.3% 6,700,000 6,300,000
American Museum of Natural History,
New York, NY, USA
0.0% 5,000,000 5,000,000
5 National Gallery of Art,
Washington DC, USA
3.8% 4,261,000 4,104,000 Free
National Museum of American History,
Washington, DC, USA
-7.3% 3,800,000 4,100,000
Museum of Modern Art,
New York, NY, USA
-7.3% 2,790,000 3,010,000
Houston Museum of Natural Science,
Houston, TX, USA
0.0% 2,295,000 2,295,000
California Science Center,
Los Angeles, CA, USA
-22.5% 2,038,000 2,630,000
10 Denver Museum of Nature & Science,
Denver, CO, USA
11.8% 1,900,000 1,700,000 Paid
11 The Art Institute of Chicago,
Chicago, IL, USA
15.5% 1,790,000 1,550,000 Paid
12 Field Museum of Natural History,
Chicago, IL, USA
19.4% 1,650,000 1,382,000 Paid
13 Udar-Hazy Center,
Washington, DC, USA
0.0% 1,600,000 1,600,000 Free
U. S. Holocaust Memorial Museum,
Washington, DC, USA
0.0% 1,600,000 1,600,000
15 The J. Paul Getty Museum,
Los Angeles, CA, USA
-0.6% 1,570,000 1,580,000 Free
16 Museum of Science,
Boston, MA, USA
10.9% 1,530,000 1,380,000
17 Museum of Science and Industry,
Chicago, IL, USA
0.0% 1,500,000 1,500,000 Paid
18 California Academy of Sciences,
San Francisco, CA, USA
0.0% 1,400,000 1,400,000
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis,
Indianapolis, IN, USA
1.6% 1,270,000 1,250,000
Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture,
Washington, DC
-7.7% 1,200,000 1,300,000
TOP 20 TOTAL ATTENDANCE 2016   58,494,000 57,481,000  
1.8% 58,494,000 57,481,000

Source: TEA/AECOM 2016 Theme Index and Museum Index: The Global Attractions Attendance Report

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