According to an article by Erica Orden in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal (here), it’s been a great year for attendance at the MoMA. Buried in the chart at right (via the WSJ website), you’ll see that the Henri Cartier-Bresson retrospective brought in a total of 412379 visitors. It was the only show of photography to make the short list.
Over four hundred thousand people got me thinking. It was certainly crowded when I visited the show, but what do those big numbers really mean (and how are they really counted)? So I made a few quick calculations.
The exhibit was open from April 11th through June 28th. Given that the museum is closed on Tuesdays, that makes for a total of 68 visitor days. So roughly 6064 people visited the HCB show every day it was open. Given the museum is open on average 7 hours a day (10:30AM to 5:30PM, we’ll gloss over the later hours on Fridays), this means there were roughly 866 visitors to the show every hour. This translates to approximately 14.4 visitors entering every minute, or about one new HCB visitor every 4.2 seconds, all day, every day. Pretty mind boggling stuff. I would have never guessed that there was so much demand to see Cartier-Bresson. Even with many people seeing the show more than once, this is a huge number of people (both locals and tourists I realize) interested in vintage photography.
For pure curiosity, I’d be interested to compare these statistics with those from the recent Frank show at the Met, which was also overrun with visitors. (I can’t think of any other blockbuster photo-only shows in NY in the last year that would have attracted a comparable number.) If anyone knows the total attendance figures for that show, please let me know and we can do an interesting side by side comparison.