Which cities have the most museums?

It’s come up in quite a few blog posts that I like my numbers. I track the stats for Towner Art Gallery’s Learning programme, and like to keep an eye on how we’re doing with family visitors at the British Museum’s Samsung Digital Discovery Centre too. Numbers, you must realise, only tell a small part of the story – they tell us quantity but not necessarily quality. There is a very big difference between the two.

The pediment from the Hungarian National Museum

The pediment from the Hungarian National Museum

Much has been made recently of visitor numbers to museums and galleries looked after by the DCMS (here’s my analysis of the situation). With the museums being mostly in London, I started thinking “How many museums are there in London?”

Being such a cultural hub, the answer is a lot. But one set of numbers by itself doesn’t tell us much, I need something to compare to, to give context and contrast. Soon I started thinking…

Which cities have the most museums?

Mexico City makes a claim for the most museums in one city,  but the 150 or so total touted seemed a bit on the small side. I decided to dig a bit deeper.

Finding an answer was more difficult than I anticipated. The criteria for what makes a museum can be rather vague, and finding a system that works across multiple countries.. well… I haven’t found a perfect solution to that issue. Also, finding a definite number is difficult! ‘Around’ ‘Almost’ ‘Approximately’ are words that I really don’t like seeing.

So I turned to the next best thing: TripAdvisor. It’s database is comprehensive, and it is a service that is used internationally. Then I started searching cities. I’ll be honest, I haven’t been as methodical as I would have liked, so this list may be not be the most robust one out there. TripAdvisor’s definition of ‘museum’ is very broad, so likely includes things that those of a pedantic persuasion might not count as worthy of the label.

So, I ask again, which cities have the most museums?

These numbers are correct at the time of typing:

  1. Moscow, Russia – claims a staggering 586 museums.
  2. St. Petersburg,  Russiamuch like Ed Sheeran, Russia claims both #1 and #2 places. The home of the Hermitage museum has 427 museums. 
  3. Tokyo, Japan – coming in at number three is the Japanese capital with 367 museums. 
  4. London, UK – according to TripAdvisor, London can boast 309 museums.
  5. Beijing, China – has 284 museums, vastly outnumbering Hong Kong’s 85!
  6. New York City – New York likes to think of itself as the cultural capital of the world, but the Big Apple is lagging behind in the museum stakes. TripAdvisor says it has 262 museums, many more than the 100 (at best) Museum Hack estimated in 2013.
  7. Shanghai, China -a second entry for China. Despite having the highest number of National Museums, Shanghai only reaches number 7 on this list with 259 museums.
  8. Paris, France -like London and New York, Paris is renowned for its cultural offerings and with her 223 museums she isn’t doing badly! The Louvre is one of the most popular museums in the world, and will likely be so for a good long time to come.
  9. Rome, Italy – The Eternal City and once the seat of a vast Empire. With so much history touching so many other places, I’m not surprised Rome is on this list. Rome boasts 195 museums. 
  10. Mexico City, Mexico – so, despite those claims, Mexico City is not as far up the list as you might think. According to TripAdvisor, Mexico City has 145 museums. 

So, that list is an interesting one, but I’m not claiming it is definitive. Maybe when I have a spare few years I can really do some on the ground research and report back. Maybe in a blog about my adventures in museums?

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8 responses to “Which cities have the most museums?

  1. Should have added, that figure comes from Berlin’s own city website. Just had a nosey in TripAdvisor, inspired by your post, and they even put the number at 210, putting it in 8th place above Rome & Mexico City. Woo hoo!

  2. The problem with registration in Mexico City, is that there are 152 museums according to government official cultural web, but there are other 100 small not registered museums, ancient haciendas or cultural schools with personal museums, which could be real museums but are not into an official list. This problem of the government to account all the museums, has generated a joke among the young population, and that’s why we usually say that we are the city with more museums … although we know that no!

  3. According to our records of September 2017, London has 202 open to the public. (Some have been temporarily closed for refurbishment). I’m curious about the 309 museums on TripAdvisor.

    Great post, stimulating thought!

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