While the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s recent decision to raise its suggested ticket prices sparked a debate about the public’s access to museums, the Met certainly seems to have no shortage of demand. Met administrators announced today that, during the fiscal year ending on June 30, 5.68 million had visited the museum, which is the largest total in 40 years and a 400,000-person increase over last year’s number.
Met director Thomas P. Campbell said in a statement that the attendance was particularly remarkable given the “ongoing fiscal challenges faced by both the museum and the public.” Indeed, the most popular exhibition, “Picasso in the Metropolitan Museum” (which drew 703,000 visitors), was seen by many critics as a product of that chastened environment, comprised solely of works from the museum’s collection.
The Met’s current retrospective of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen has also been a major draw, welcoming more than 500,000 visitors since its May 4 opening. The exhibition runs through Aug. 7, and the Met has announced it will extend viewing hours for the show during its final four days.
The Met’s 5.68-million-person figure puts it in third place in terms of international museum attendance, Hyperallergic magazine notes. Only the Louvre and the British Museum–with 8.5 million and 5.84 million guests in 2010, respectively–currently have higher visitor numbers on their books.