It’s a cliché that museum attendance rises in a recession. But now that the global economy seems to be gaining momentum, the crowds are not abating. Clearly something else is going on. More and more people are traveling and art has become a foundational context for the emerging global culture. The New York Times looks at some of the strains that museum attendance is creating:
It is the height of summer, and millions of visitors are flocking to the Louvre — the busiest art museum in the world, with 9.3 million visitors last year — and to other great museums across Europe. Every year the numbers grow as new middle classes emerge, especially in Asia and Eastern Europe. Last summer the British Museum had record attendance, and for 2013 as a whole it had 6.7 million visitors , making it the second-most visited museum in the world. Attendance at the Uffizi in Florence for the first half of the year is up almost 5 percent over last year. […]
Tomaso Montanari, an art historian in Florence and professor at the Federico II University in Naples, has been strongly critical of crowding at the Uffizi, which is considerably smaller than other major museums. “It seems like a tropical greenhouse — you can’t breathe,” he said in a telephone interview.
Patricia Rucidio, a guide in Florence for Context Travel, said that visiting the Accademia, famous for Michelangelo’s “David,” had become “a nightmare” this year because visitors are now allowed to take photos. “People now swarm the paintings, step on anyone to get to them, push, shove, snap a photo, and move quickly on without looking at the painting,” she wrote in an email message.