These Were the Most Popular Museums in the World, According to Google’s ‘Year in Search’

It was a big year for dinosaurs.

The Ark Encounter in Williamstown. (Photo by Luke Sharrett /For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

As it does around this time every year, Google has released its “Year in Search,” reminding you just how much this giant corporation knows about your thoughts and desires. Mainly this year, web-searchers seemed to be wondering, “Why do men think about the Roman Empire so much?” But as usual, there are a few art-related insights in the mix.

Turning first to the “Global” results, the Year in Search offers up a ranking of the most-popular museums in the world, as measured by Google Maps interest. They are:

  1. Louvre Museum, Paris, France
  2. The British Museum, London, United Kingdom
  3. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
  4. Natural History Museum, London, United Kingdom
  5. teamLab Planets, Tokyo, Japan
  6. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  7. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain
  8. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  9. American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
  10. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam, Netherlands

It’s a fairly predictable list, really focused on the European capitals of tourism.

The big outlier, clearly, is teamLab Planets. The immersive-art extravaganza in Tokyo is a juggernaut, and a particular hit with foreign tourists according to reports. The museum claims that 1 in 10 foreign tourists to Japan buy tickets to check out teamLab’s interactive experience, which features a digital Koi pond where animated fish explode into flowers as visitors touch them, an environment where you walk among glowing spheres, and an area where you can interact with “solidified light.

TeamLab planets

A staff member stands inside an interactive digital installation “Drawing on the Water Surface Created by the Dance of Koi and People – Infinity” during a media preview of the TeamLab Planets Water Area in the Toyosu district of Tokyo on June 29, 2021. (Photo by Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)

The other outlier is the American Museum of Natural History, the sole U.S. destination among Google’s “Global” top museums. Turning to the U.S.-specific “Year in Search” results, we can get a separate list of top 10 museums:

  1. American Museum of Natural History, New York, New York
  2. 9/11 Memorial & Museum, New York, New York
  3. Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.
  4. Ark Encounter, Williamstown, Kentucky
  5. The Getty, Los Angeles, California
  6. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
  7. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  8. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts
  9. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York
  10. Intrepid Museum, New York, New York

The American Museum of Natural History’s big year corresponds with the opening of its $465 million Gilder Wing, which Bloomberg called “a case for architectural spectacle.”

A notable aspect of this list is that New York’s biggest art museums, the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art, don’t make this top 10. Nationally, the Getty, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, all drew more interest.

Non-art New York institutions including the 9/11 Memorial and the Intrepid Museum, as well as the American Museum of Natural History, all found favor. The Whitney Museum is the sole institution defending the valor of New York art, at #9.

Replica dinosaurs are pictured in a cage onboard a life-size replica of Noah's Ark

Replica dinosaurs are pictured in a cage onboard a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark at The Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky. (Photo by Luke Sharrett /For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Maybe the most noteworthy top 10 U.S. museum for 2023 is #4: Ark Encounter. The Kentucky attraction features a supposedly realistic recreation of what Noah’s Ark might have looked like: a 510-foot-long, three-story floating zoo that boasts of being “the largest timber-frame structure in the world.” Like teamLab Planets, Ark Encounter promises lots of immersive attractions—though these are crafted with the specific aim of illustrating the literal truth of the Biblical text.

What else? Among Google’s list of the most-popular parks in the U.S., Central Park is #1, followed by Red Rocks in Colorado at #2, Bryant Park in New York at #3, and the High Line at #4. A relatively new entrant takes #7: Little Island, the art-filled attraction in the Hudson River which opened in 2021.

Little Island in the Hudson River, with the Whitney Museum in the background

People walk through Little Island in the Hudson River as it sits in front of the Whitney Museum of American Art on April 1, 2023, in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

For whatever reason, no nation besides the United States gets a broken out “Top Museums” ranking. So, the above about exhausts the Year in Trends for art interest.

Yet surely a key bit of data to fashion-conscious denizens of the art world would have to be Google’s ranking of “Top Apparel” items (as suggested, apparently, by usage of Google Lens image-recognition app).

Study it closely, for surely you’ll be hearing a lot of these names again in 2024:

  1. Shirt
  2. Outerwear
  3. Footwear
  4. Dress
  5. Pants
  6. Skirt
  7. Shorts
  8. Romper
  9. Jumpsuit
  10. Sweater

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