The Broad museum in Los Angeles sent out an email blast this morning trumpeting news that it welcomed more than 820,000 people in its first year in operation, a formidable figure for a one-year-old private museum.
That number is no doubt music to the ears of its billionaire cofounder, Eli Broad (with his wife, Edythe), particularly since his belief in attendance as an important measure for the success of museums is well documented. Many may recall that, when the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles, where he served as a life trustee, was undergoing a fiscal crisis a few years back, he repeatedly focused on attendance in public statements.
That 820,000 number puts the Broad near the front of the pack of museums started by billionaires in recent years. Alice Walton’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which opened in November 2011, reported more than 650,000 visitors in its first year, though it’s probably worth reiterating that the museum is in Bentonville, Arkansas, not Los Angeles. (Pretty much totally unrelated, but I just learned that Wal-Mart has 2.3 million employees. That’s a lot of people!)
As others points of comparison, the Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris, which opened in 2014, has said that it received 1.2 million visitors in its first year in operation, edging out the Broad, while the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, which has been around since 1910, had about 1.4 million visitors in the 2015–16 fiscal year.
Though that is an impressive number for the Broad, it is still dwarfed by the visitor total an established museum like the Louvre, which had 8.6 million visitors in 2015.