he Louvre in Paris has topped the list of the most visited art museums of 2012, according to the Art Newspaper.
The publication’s annual survey found 9.7 million people visited the French institute - one million more than 2011.
New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art was the second most-visited venue, with three London museums taking the third, fourth and fifth spots.
The most popular exhibition of the year was a show of Dutch Old Masters at Tokyo’s Metropolitan Art Museum.
Masterpieces from the Mauritshuis, which included Vermeer’s 1665 painting Girl with a Pearl Earring, brought 10,500 visitors a day to the Tokyo gallery between June and September 2012.
The paintings had been on loan from The Royal Picture Gallery Mauritshuis in the Hague, which is closed for refurbishment until mid-2014.’Extraordinary year’
The collection will tour the US and Italy before returning to the Netherlands next year.
Visitor numbers at the Louvre, which has topped the annual list of most popular venues since it began in 2007, were boosted by the museum’s new wing of Islamic art.
While the position of the top 10 venues showed little change on the previous year, British museums had an "excellent" 2012 according to the survey, boosted by increased visitors to London for the summer Olympics.
Tate Modern, which attracted a large number visitors thanks to a Damien Hirst retrospective and the Tanks installation, moved up a place to fourth on the list with 5.3 million visitors - up from 4.8 million in 2011.
It pushed the National Gallery down to fifth place.
Alex Beard, deputy director at the Tate said its versatile offering helped bring more people to gallery.
"It has been an extraordinary year at Tate Modern, opening the world’s first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works alongside an outstanding exhibition programme which has undoubtedly fuelled the increase in visitors," he said.Top exhibitions
Surprisingly, none of the 20 most popular exhibitions were held at any of the top five most visited galleries.
Tokyo featured a second time on the list with an exhibition of European art at the National Museum.
While Rio’s Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil appeared three times with The Amazon: Cycles of Modernity in second place with 7,928 daily visitors, Antony Gormley’s Still Being, at seven with 6,909 daily visitors and India at 11 with 6,347 daily visitors.
An exhibition of 19th Century Italian paintings at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg was the third most-visited show with 7,747 visitors a day.
And in London, David Hockney’s A Bigger Picture - which featured large-scale works on canvas and an iPad - attracted 7,512 daily visitors to the Royal Academy of Arts to become the fifth most-visited
Due to its popularity, the gallery extended its opening hours for the show’s final week, opening until midnight on weekdays.
Meanwhile, in the Art Newspaper’s list of top 10 London venues, Leonardo at the National Gallery was the highest ranking show to feature pre-20th Century works, with 3,985 visitors a day.