As seen in last month’s “Inside Art,” international rankings of art exhibition attendances present the achievements of Japanese museums in the best possible light. Look at annual attendance figures, however, and the picture is very different.

Consider the case of Tokyo National Museum in Ueno. According to an annual ranking of exhibition attendances published by The Art Newspaper in Britain, Japan’s premiere cultural institution has produced the most popular shows in the world each year for the last four years. In 2007, the top spot went to “The Mind of Leonardo,” which attracted an eyebrow-raising (not to mention elbow-knocking) 10,071 visitors per day.

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