Sunday, March 25, 2012

Global Blockbusters

What exhibitions attracted the most viewers worldwide?  Check out these figures.  Here's an interesting overview of global trends in exhibition attendance.  I was surprised to learn that Brazil has become such a hub of art tourism.

According the these surveys, art viewership expanded by about 50% from the mid 1990s.  Attendance at some of the most popular shows approaches 10,000 viewers per day.  Has art viewing taken on a different character?  How do you see experience art in the context of such mass viewing? 


  1. I'm pretty shocked as well to see Brazil up on top when it comes to art tourism, followed by Tokyo. I didn't see Vegas anywhere on that list, I wonder why that is? Lol, joking aside its pretty interesting to see how they will hold that top spot because I have only known Brazil to be known for party, food, vacationing and what not but never art/culture.

  2. Last week I would have said that I was VERY surprised, but I recently had lunch with a friend that is an entrepreneur with his own e-commerce business and he said that Brazil is the next China. I was surprised when I heard this (I guess I focus so much on China and our lack of production here in the states.) I sort of see these statistics as supporting his declaration. I’m not surprised that Brazil has a healthy market for tourism, but I guess I am somewhat surprised that it has art specific tourism…maybe it works because it’s such a lovely place to visit anyway (or so I hear) so why not add a museum/gallery visit to your itinerary.

    Is it just me or is 10,000 viewers per day a lot?! That is just a lot of people. Art viewing must be taking on a different character. I know that I had friends attend Art Basel in Miami last year more because it was considered “cool” and it was a social function rather than because they were properly interested or educated in actual art. It seemed like it was something they could post on Facebook for the sake of image management (again, it possibly made them look “cool” or “well cultured.”) I wonder if social media and image-management have something to do with these attendance rates.

    As for viewing the art is such a crowd: yuck. It would be hard to see and I would feel like I was able to take the time to fully experience the art. I guess I would feel rushed. After all, people do like to take pictures of it/with it. I admit, I am guilty (?) of this.

    1. That is a lot of people. I agree with you that viewing art in a crowd definitely sucks. Because all the people get in the way of getting a sense of the visual space that surrounds the art. Because viewing art in its context is part of it too, and for me, the space is more important to be viewed than a crowd of people. I definitely prefer to view art in isolation.

    2. I completely agree that art has become more of a cool phenomena. At the Moma, I couldn't tell you how many people I saw standing in front of a piece of work while their friend took a picture of them and then merely walking away. It was more important for them to have the physical proof that they were there with the piece then the actual experience that the piece offered them. Kind of sad.

  3. I am not surprised at these numbers. New York, Tokyo, Paris, London… these cities have a large population and lots of tourism. Brazil, Korea, Taiwan… these countries have had great economic growth and seem to be emerging art centers. I like how the London museums made the list by being free. The titles of these exhibitions show the wide range of topics being discussed around the world. Most sound like they could be interesting courses.