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The world's 20 most popular museums in 2016

Posted June 21

While elbow room is undoubtedly still very scarce around Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," the museum that houses her is no longer the No. 1 most visited museum in the world.

After four consecutive years on record as the museum world's top draw, the Louvre fell to No. 3 for attendance in the 2016 Museum Index released in June by the Themed Entertainment Association and AECOM.

The blockbuster Paris museum was edged out for the first time in the index's five-year history by the National Museum of China in Beijing. Washington's National Air and Space Museum also bested the Louvre, ranking second in attendance figures in 2016.

The top three all topped 7 million attendees; the National Museum of China saw nearly 7.6 million visitors, while 7.5 million were recorded at the National Air and Space Museum and 7.4 million visited the Louvre.

The world's top 20 museums exceeded their previous collective attendance record by more than a million guests in 2016, racking up 108 million visitors, according to the report.

The Louvre, however, saw a nearly 15% decline in visitation from 2015, a drop pinned to an overall drop in tourism to Paris that has been attributed in part to economic and political events.

Another Paris museum, the Centre Pompidou, fared better with a 6% increase in visitation from 2015, putting it at No. 20 on the 2016 list with 3.3 million visitors. The city's Mus-e d'Orsay dropped out of the top 20 in 2016.

In London, an expansion at the Tate Modern that opened in 2016 propelled that museum's nearly 24% spike in attendance, putting it at No. 10 on the list.

The No. 1-ranked National Museum of China saw a 3.6% jump in attendance, an increase the report attributes to population size, free admission and the museum's location in the major tourist destination of Beijing.

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