Taiwan’s National Palace Museum Ranks Sixth in Worldwide Attendance

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum Ranks Sixth in Worldwide Attendance
Photo Credit: Latinboy CC BY SA 2.0

What you need to know

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum ranks sixth among the most popular museums with nearly 5.3 million visitors in 2015. Its diverse exhibitions have also performed well in the international visitor figure ranking. Aiming to attract more visitors and promote Taiwan’s global visibility, the museum opened its southern branch at the end of last year and has drawn significant attention.

Compiled and translated by Bing-sheng Lee

On March 29, The Art Newspaper, a worldwide art news service based in London and New York, published the 2015 version of its annual visitor figure ranking of art museums around the world.

Taiwan’s National Palace Museum (NPM), which attracted nearly 5.3 million visitors in 2015, ranks sixth among the top ten most popular museums, and was also the most visited museum in Asia last year.

Even though NPM’s total attendance dropped by 110,000 in 2015 compared to 2014, the museum still moved up a place in the ranking. The average number of visitors to the museum reached 12,000 per day with half of them from China.

In addition to its performance in overall visitor figure, NPM also boasts a diverse array of art exhibitions that have attracted a large number of tourists. An exhibition showing the works of the twentieth-century Taiwanese artist, Chen Cheng-po, was the most-visited exhibition in the world in 2015.

“Local pride helped make a survey of paintings by a Taiwanese artist the most-attended show of 2015,” says The Art Newspaper, referring to Chen’s exhibition.

The Louvre remained the most-visited museum with 8.6 million visitors last year despite the fact that the number was 600,000 fewer than that of 2014 when the museum drew over 9.2 million guests.

The significant drop in Louvre’s attendance was a result of the terrorist attacks that struck Paris last November, according to The Art Newspaper.

Two museums in London rank among the top five of the list. British Museum had 6.8 million guests and stayed at second place, while The National Gallery fell from third to fifth place after a series of strikes caused temporary room closures.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and Vatican Museums in Vatican City moved up a place and sit at third place and fourth place respectively.

NPM’s new southern branch boosting Taiwan’s international visibility

Southern branch of the National Palace Museum. Photo Credit: 故宮南院

Southern branch of the National Palace Museum. Photo Credit: 故宮南院

NPM is not only the largest and most prestigious museum in Taiwan, it also serves as an important platform for Taiwan to carry out cultural exchange with other countries and increase international exposure.

To balance the cultural developments of the Northern and Southern Taiwan and boost Taiwan’s international visibility, NPM initiated the construction of a southern branch in Chiayi in 2004. At the end of last year, NPM officially opened the southern branch and it immediately drew international attention.

In February, Financial Times did a special report on the opening of the southern branch of NPM, saying that Taiwan is using “museum diplomacy” to improve its global standing and international visibility.

The US$300 million project features an elegantly modernist building designed to exhibit pan-Asian art and culture. Different from the Taipei Branch, the museum showcases permanent exhibitions on Asian art history, the shared regional heritage of tea, Buddhist art, textiles, history of Chiayi and holds temporary special expositions.

An NPM official is optimistic about the future attendance of the new branch, stating that the museum projects its first-year attendance to reach two million. It also estimates the southern branch to attract as many guests per year as the Taipei museum within the next few years.

Speaking to Financial Times, Fung Ming-chu, director of the National Palace museums, says, “Taiwan’s visibility increases through our exhibitions and other countries in the world will value Taiwan more. And I think the reason why many countries are so keen to invite us for collaborations is because they cannot exchange with us politically.”

Edited by Olivia Yang

Liberty Times
Sound of Hope
Stand News
Liberty Times
“Visitor Figures 2015: Jeff Koons is the toast of Paris and Bilbao” (The Art Newspaper)
“Taiwan turns to museum diplomacy to boost global standing” (Financial Times)