MoMA Attendance Hits Record High

What do you get when you combine a mischievous filmmaker, a cache of floral masterpieces and a handful of nude performers? A record box office.

The Museum of Modern Art attracted its highest-ever number of visitors, 3.09 million, during its 2010 fiscal year, according to estimates released Monday by the museum. (The tally is an estimate because the museum's fiscal year does not end until June 30.) The figure represents an increase of 250,000 over the previous year's attendance, and a 530,000 increase over the museum's first full year of operation in its new building (fiscal year 2006).


Despite a slow economy and MoMA's relatively high ticket price of $20, a number of exhibitions generated heavy traffic, including "Monet's Water Lilies" (857,386 visitors) and "Tim Burton" (810,511). A retrospective of the work of performance artist Marina Abramovic, during which the artist sat silently on a chair in the museum for the entire course of the three-month show, attracted 561,471 viewers.

Membership also rose, to an estimated 134,000 in the 2010 fiscal year. Despite the upswing, the museum cautioned that the contributing factors are "not necessarily reproducible." Those factors included programming that had a "strong public appeal," such as the show of Mr. Burton's work, which attracted a significant number of first-time visitors, according to a museum spokeswoman.

The spokeswoman also attributed the attendance figures to increased tourism in the early half of 2010 and to lengthier runs for certain exhibitions (Mr. Burton's show was on display for five months, as opposed to the average three-month show run).

This year's attendance represents more than double the museum's average visitorship in its old building, where it drew 1.5 million people annually.

Write to Erica Orden at

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