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“Exceptional attendance”: French museums are full in 2023

Exceptional exhibitions and a tenfold appetite after a long period of health restrictions: four years after Covid, the major Parisian museums were full of visitors in 2023, breaking attendance records or returning to their 2019 levels.

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“Exceptional attendance”: French museums are full in 2023

Exceptional exhibitions and a tenfold appetite after a long period of health restrictions: four years after Covid, the major Parisian museums were full of visitors in 2023, breaking attendance records or returning to their 2019 levels.

With nearly 3.9 million visitors in 2023, the Musée d'Orsay breaks a "historic record" and, with its counterpart, the Musée de l'Orangerie (1.2 million visitors), totals 5.1 million visitors. visitors. The Manet-Degas, Pastels, Millet to Redon and Van Gogh exhibitions in Auvers-sur-Oise, in recent months have been popular with visitors, among whom “the French are back in droves”, says the general administrator Pierre-Emmanuel Lecerf. Five weeks before its closure, the exhibition on Van Gogh has also already broken “a historic record with 568,000 visitors, or 7,200 every day”, he underlines. If the Louvre ultimately wishes to open a second entrance to facilitate access to its collections, Orsay and the Orangerie will begin renovation work on their reception areas from 2025, without closing the museums.

Although having maintained a gauge of 30,000 visitors per day, the Louvre museum displays a total of 8.9 million visitors (14% compared to 2022), close to its 2019 level (9.6 million visitors) . The largest museum in the world, which will maintain its daily capacity during the Paris Olympics (from July 26 to August 11), intends to “rely less on attendance records” – it had a total of 10.2 million visitors in 2018 – than on “improving public reception and the quality of visits” to its collections, including Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Two out of three visitors are foreign tourists, compared to 32% of French people. As in 2022, 60% of them discovered the Louvre for the first time, 43% of whom were under 26 years old and 40% of whom also benefited from free access to the museum. Main new feature in 2024: the sharp increase in ticket prices from 17 to 22 euros from January 15. That’s an increase of 30%!

If the Americans are back as in 2022 (with almost one in five visitors), the Asian public is still missing. Together, Japanese, Korean and Chinese visitors were absent this year at Versailles, while Chinese visitors alone represented 13% of the palace's attendance in 2019. Evacuated and closed several times in recent months, following of unfounded bomb threats, the castle claims not to have suffered from them. Its visitors were able to postpone their visit for a few hours or until the next day.

With its 14 sites spread across the capital (Maison de Balzac, Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris, Petit Palais, Maison de Victor Hugo, etc.), Paris Musée recorded attendance up 17%, with 5.3 million visitors. visitors (4.54 million in 2022). The City is delighted to see 3 million people have been welcomed into museum collections with free access (30% compared to 2022). Temporary exhibitions and heritage sites attracted 2.2 million visitors (6% compared to 2022). The exhibition that attracted the most people by far was that of the Catacombs of Paris. Open from January 1 to December 31, it welcomed more than 600,000 visitors. This year the City recorded a “record attendance”, helped by three cultural venues in particular.

Due to close from 2025 for major asbestos removal and renovation work, planned until 2030, the Center Pompidou for its part welcomed more than 2.6 million people in 2023. This attendance is “close to the level of 2019”, despite a “slowdown at the end of the year”, he announced in a press release. In recent weeks, it has experienced several days of closure linked to a strike to protest against the conditions of this closure. The major retrospectives by Germaine Richier and Norman Foster still marked the year with 177,662 and 214,309 visitors respectively.

The Center des monuments nationaux (CMN), which manages around a hundred cultural sites including the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey and the Sainte-Chapelle in Paris, also reported a “historic record” with 11 million visitors (15% compared to 2022), including that of the Pantheon which exceeds one million attendances for the first time.

The national maritime museum, which is made up of five sites (Brest, Port-Louis, Rochefort, Toulon and Paris) has 273,312 visitors to the port museums (258,550 in 2022). After seven years of closure for restoration work, the Palais de Chaillot, Place du Trocadéro, reopened its doors on November 17, 2023. 74,500 visitors have been there since.

The Army Museum records an increase of 13% compared to 2022 thanks to 1.2 million visitors. The Hôtel National des Invalides has hosted numerous successful exhibitions. 74,428 people visited the La Haine des clans exhibition. Wars of Religion, 1559-1610 presented from April 5 to July 30, a success in attendance which places it just behind Napoleon the strategist (100,698 visitors), Special Forces (96,247 visitors), Secret Wars (95,769 visitors), Napoleon on Saint Helena (90,265 visitors) and Picasso and the war (86,885 visitors).

The National Library of France beats its historic record for 2019 with 1.45 million visitors to its reading rooms, museum, exhibitions and events on its four Parisian sites: Richelieu (2nd arrondissement), Arsenal (4th arrondissement), Opéra (9th arrondissement), François-Mitterrand (13th arrondissement) and in its branch of the Performing Arts department in Avignon. In 2023, 70,000 BnF Annual Pass memberships have been registered.

With 1.4 million visits (40% compared to 2022), the Quai Branly-Jacques Chirac museum also announces “exceptional attendance” in 2023, higher than the years before the Covid health crisis.

With 635,363 visitors welcomed in 2023 (21% compared to the previous record of 2019), the Palais de la Porte Dorée beats this previous record. The place houses the National Museum of the History of Immigration which reopened its doors last June and which welcomed 141,529 visitors in six months.

In 2023, the Fontainebleau estate welcomed more than 1,780,000 visitors (15% compared to 2022), with more than 560,000 visits to the castle (29% compared to 2022). It’s “a benchmark year” since the place even beat the figures for 2019 (5%). Among the various highlights of the year, the visit which had the greatest success was the contemporary art trail, Grandeur Nature. 18 artists in the garden, with 61,000 visitors.

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