Most visited Smithsonian museums and institutions in the U.S. 2018

This statistic shows the most visited Smithsonian museums and institutions in the United States in 2018. The National Air and Space Museum was the most visited Smithsonian museum in 2018, with approximately 6.2 million visits.

Smithsonian museums –additional information

The Smithsonian museums are part of the Smithsonian Institution which belongs to the United States government. The Smithsonian Institution was created after the death of Englishman James Smithson in 1829. Despite having never stepped foot in the U.S., he left his entire estate to the United States government for the “increase and diffusion of knowledge”. The Smithsonian Institution was finally established in 1846, and is today the world’s largest museum and research complex.

In 2018, the most visited Smithsonian museums were the National Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. Both these museums have had fluctuating visitor numbers over the last 15 years, with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History hitting peaks of 8.4 million visitors and lows of 4.4 million in the given period.

This pattern in attendance is also seen in the total number of visitors to all Smithsonian museums. However, the trend may be a more recent one as attendance increased without interruption between 1970 and 1990.

Most visited Smithsonian museums and institutions in the United States in 2018

Number of visits in millions
National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center6.2
National Air and Space Museum6.2
National Museum of Natural History4.8
National Museum of American History4.1
Smithsonian American Art Museum (With the Renwick Gallery) 3.15
National Portrait Gallery 2.3
National Museum of African American History and Culture1.9
National Zoo1.8
National Museum of the American Indian (Washington, D.C.) 1.1
Smithsonian Institution Building, "The Castle"1
Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden 0.88
Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum 0.71
National Postal Museum 0.5
National Museum of the American Indian Heye Center (New York City) 0.41
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum 0.32
Freer Gallery of Art0.24
National Museum of African Art 0.14
S. Dillon Ripley Center 0.13
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery  0.13
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Source

Release date

May 2019

Region

United States

Survey time period

2018

Supplementary notes

Because the Smithsonian museums are free, they cannot base our visit tallies on a number of tickets sold. Smithsonian security officers use hand clickers to count everyone entering the museums (in some buildings they count people leaving) through public entrances during the hours the museums are open. The counts sometimes include staff, as well as visitors who leave the museum and return. A person visiting three Smithsonian museums on any given day will be counted three times. The newest Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), has an automated counting system that counts visitors (and staff) as they enter the museum.
The source does not provide a date of publication. The date given is the date accessed.

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Statistics on "Museums in the United States"

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