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Alexander McQueen Exhibit Helps Break Visitor Records for Met

By Amy Zimmer | July 17, 2012 8:07am

MANHATTAN — Nearly 6.3 million visitors passed through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's doors at its Fifth Avenue location and the Cloisters for the fiscal year that ended June 30, Met officials announced Monday.

It was the iconic institution's highest recorded attendance since it began tracking visitor numbers 40 years ago, officials said.

The museum got a big boost from the last five weeks of 2011's blockbuster Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty show, which saw a total of 662,000 visitors when it closed — with extended hours and crazy lines — on Aug. 7, 2011.

Large numbers also flocked to new galleries for the "Art of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia," which opened Nov. 1, 2011, and the new American wing galleries for paintings, sculpture and decorative arts, which made a splash when it was unveiled in January.

“Anchoring this success was the public’s interest in the new galleries for our Islamic collection and our American Wing, with each of those areas receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors in their inaugural months," Thomas P. Campbell, the Met's director and CEO, said in a statement.

"The growth of our audience — frequent as well as first-time visitors from around the world — once again demonstrates that the Met is a truly global museum for this truly global city," he added.

Attendance was also strong for "The Steins Collect: Matisse, Picasso, and the Parisian Avant-Garde" with 324,000 visitors through June 30, and "The Renaissance Portrait from Donatello to Bellini" with 205,000.

Also, Tomás Saraceno's Cloud City, which opened on the roof in May, has already drawn 179,000 people, and "Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations" featuring the fashions of Italian designers Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada, has drawn 166,000 visitors, museum officials said.

The Met will likely continue drawing big crowds before the year is through with an upcoming show exploring the legacy of Andy Warhol, which will run from Sept. 18 through Dec. 31.

"Regarding Warhol: Sixty Artists, Fifty Years," will feature roughly 45 of Warhol's works next to 100 works by some 60 other artists whose art reinterprets or responds to the influential pop superstar.