The Art Newspaper released their annual tally (PDF) of top 100 museums worldwide based on 2010 attendance numbers, and the results are disappointing when it comes to Los Angeles. The Getty falls at #33 with 1,205,685 visitors and LACMA at #53 with 914,356 visitors. MOCA and the Hammer didn't make the cut. The numbers are especially deflating because of our supposed burgeoning status as a worldwide art center, a notion Eli Broad championed in regards to the construction of his forthcoming billion dollar art museum.
Los Angeles only landed one museum, The Getty, on the Top 10 list of most attended museums in the country (See the LA Times compiled list from Art Newspaper data). American museums that outrank the Getty include San Francisco's De Young Museum and Chicago's Art Institute. LACMA falls at #11 in attendance when compared to North American museums.
As for top-attended exhibitions worldwide, The Getty's Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Sculpture is Los Angeles' only representatives on the list. The LA Times points to The Getty's success in attracting tourists to their space, quoting Ron Hartwig, vice president of communications for the J. Paul Getty Trust on the findings of Getty's museum surveys: "visitors think of the Getty 'in the same vocabulary' as Disneyland and Universal Studios as a leading tourism destination in the area. Since opening its Richard Meier-designed campus with sweeping views, the Getty has drawn about half its attendance from outside Southern California."
The LA Times also quotes directors from LACMA, Hammer, and MOCA who all cite reasons like urban sprawl, limited public transit, and a lack of strong exhibitions with mass appeal for their comparatively low tourist visits.