Here Are the World’s Most Instagrammed Museums of 2016

Also: the most-popular art hashtags, and the year's most popular Instagram filters.

A woman takes pictures with a mobile phone of "The Deposition" (1603-1604) by Michelangelo Merisi known as The Caravaggio during a press preview of the exhibition entitled "Roma Aeterna. Masterpieces of the Vatican Pinacotheca. Photo courtesy Natalia Kolesnikova /AFP/Getty Images.

The top Instagram hashtag of 2016 was #love, and the most-used emoji was—you guessed it—❤. As the year grinds to an end, the Instagram PR team has sent us these factoids, plus a bunch more from all the data harvested from their massive user base. The trove includes some things for art fans to ❤.

Images posted to Instagram come geotagged, meaning the company can tell a lot about where people are posting from (recall the online project “I Know Where Your Cat Lives,” which mapped the locations of online cat pics around the globe.) Below is the ranking of the Top 25 Most-Instagrammed Museums, based on geotagging (the company did not provide information about numbers of images posted):

1. Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

3. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York

4. Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), Los Angeles

5. The Broad, Los Angeles

6. World Trade Center 9/11 Memorial (aka National September 11 Memorial & Museum), New York

7. American Museum of Natural History, New York

8. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York

9. British Museum, London, UK

10. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago

11. Natural History Museum, London, UK

12. Centre Pompidou, Paris, France

13. Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

14. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia

15. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia

16. Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK

17. Palacio de Bellas Artes, México, D.F.

18. Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome

19. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles

20. Museo Guggenheim Bilbao (aka Guggenheim Museum Bilbao), Bilbao, Spain

21. Renwick Gallery, Washington, DC

22. National Gallery, London, UK

23. Pinto Art Museum, Antipolo City, Philippines

24. Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris, France

25. National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

That’s the list. What does it mean? New York is on top with five of the biggest museums on Instagram, followed by Paris and London, with four each, and then LA, with three—pretty typical art capital stuff.

On the other hand, this list of the world’s most photographed museums doesn’t quite follow the pattern of the list of the world’s most visited museums. LACMA and MoMA, for instance, appear at positions #3 and #4 in terms of their Instagram footprint, but don’t clear the top 10 most-visited museums, according to the Art Newspaper’s tabulations.

The new-minted Broad Museum, with its surplus of photo ops, is truly Instagram Famous, already coming in at #5, thereby beating the British Museum, the world’s second-most-attended art museum, which is down at a lowly #9.

I’ll be totally honest: This is the first time I am hearing of the Pinto Art Museum in the Philippines. Reports indicate that the quirky institution doesn’t even have air conditioning. Its presence is hard to explain—except by the fact that the Phillippines is one of the most social media savvy countries in the world, sometimes described as the “selfiest” place on earth.

For my own edification, I looked up how many Instagram followers these Top 25 art institutions had:


Basically, it appears that it does help to have a lot of Instagram followers if you want to draw a lot of Instagramming fans to your physical space. Still, most of the Top 25 actually have pretty modest follower counts. (As a point of comparison, Instagram user @AverageRob, who caught some attention last month for Photoshopping himself into random celebrity pics, already has 100,000-plus followers.)

The Tate Modern was the seventh most visited museum in the world in 2015, with 4.7 million visitors. It doesn’t register in Instagram’s Top 25 Most-Photographed Museums, perhaps because of a more restrictive photo policy.

Indeed, the Tate actually has a pretty enormous Instagram following. With a staggering 1.2 million followers, it would have the third most Instagram followers of any institution on this list!

New York institutions like the Guggenheim (1.1 million followers), the New Museum (398,000 followers) and the Brooklyn Museum (395,000 followers) also have large follower counts but don’t show up in the most-photographed list. Evidently these are museums that are more popular to observe virtually than to snap in person.

Lest you get too depressed about art’s fate in a selfie-fied world, the Louvre and the Met are both big enough deals to crack a list of the year’s overall “Most Instagrammed Locations.” That puts them in the same league as Central Park, Rome’s Colisseum, and Notre-Dame Cathedral, as well as Siam Paragon super mall in Bangkok, the Vegas Strip, and, strangely, Los Angeles International Airport:

Most Instagrammed Locations of 2016 (Based on Global Geotag Data):

  1. Disney Theme Parks (global)
  2. Universal Studios Theme Parks (global)
  3. Central Park (NYC)
  4. Times Square, New York City
  5. Eiffel Tower (Paris)
  6. Louvre Museum (Paris)
  7. Las Vegas Strip (Las Vegas)
  8. Santa Monica Pier (LA)
  9. Brooklyn Bridge (NYC)
  10. ВДНХ / Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (Moscow)
  11. Siam Paragon (Bangkok)
  12. Colosseum (Rome)
  13. Madison Square Garden (NYC)
  14. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
  15. Tower Bridge (London)
  16. Barcelona Centre (Spain)
  17. Notre-Dame Cathedral (Notre-Dame de Paris)
  18. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (NYC)
  19. Empire State Building (NYC)
  20. Niagara Falls (NY State/CAN)

The Instagram team also kindly provided us with a custom list of the year’s top art hashtags, yielding the precious insight that #art is the top art-related hashtag:

Top Art-Related Hashtags 

  1. #art
  2. #design
  3. #architecture
  4. #artist
  5. #illustration
  6. #portrait
  7. #sketch
  8. #artwork
  9. #streetart
  10. #draw

Finally—and most importantly of all for taking the temperature of our times—below are the most popular Instagram filters of 2016:

Most-used Instagram Filters

  1. Clarendon
  2. Gingham
  3. Juno
  4. Lark
  5. Moon

For those keeping score at home, those would be the first five filters you come upon in the app after “Normal,” minus sad-sack filter “Reyes.” Why not show a little #love for Reyes in 2017?

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