The most popular show in the country? Have a guess.
The annual list of the most visited exhibitions and art galleries of the year, compiled by The Art Newspaper, reveals that it wasn’t a “blockbuster”. Nor was it a show at the perennially busy Saatchi Gallery, as it has been for the past few years.
If you thought it was contemporary British sculptor Fiona Banner's installation of two fighter jets, a Sea Harrier and a Sepecat Jaguar, in the Tate Britain's neo-classical Duveen Galleries then you would be correct.
The free exhibition ranked at number 32 in the world's most visited shows last year, proving that many of us agree with Charles Moore's terrifying observation in this newspaper's review of the show: that killing machines are objects of great beauty.
According to the Tate's figures, Banner's Duveens Commission received on average 4,281 people per day, beating other popular London shows including Saatchi's free shows 'Newspeak: British Art Now' and 'Shape of Things to Come: New Sculpture' which were the second and third most visited British exhibitions. Further down the list, the most popular London exhibition that people paid for was a Gauguin retrospective at the Tate Modern. The Rio de Janeiro leg of a touring show of work by the Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher was the most visited exhibition of 2011, with an average of nearly 10,000 people per day.
Staggeringly, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Rio hosted no less than three exhibitions that have made the top ten. It is part of a wider museums and art boom in the country.
Although not a single British institution featured on the 20 most popular exhibitions list of 2011, London features three times in The Art Newspaper's list of the ten most visited institutions of the past year.
The Louvre in Paris was easily the most attended gallery in the world in 2011, with 8.88 million visitors. It has maintained its top spot on the list, with an increase of nearly half a million visitors on its 2010 figure.
Second on the list was the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, which broke the six million mark for the first time (6.004 million). It was helped along by the runaway success of their Alexander McQueen retrospective, 'Savage Beauty', which ranked as the fourth most popular exhibition of the year. A posthumous tribute to the fashion designer, the show welcomed an average of more than 8,000 people per day.
London's three most popular attractions - the British Museum (5.85 million), the National Gallery (5.25 million) and the Tate Modern (4.80 million) - make up the final three hotspots in the top five. Paris was the only other city with three art galleries on the list.