The new Department of Islamic Arts at the Louvre is the largest of its kind in Europe.
Credit: Kenzo Tribouillard

The Louvre has topped the list of most visited art museums in 2012, according to the Art Newspaper.

The publication's annual survey found that 9.7 million people visited the Paris museum, one million more than the previous year.

New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art took second place on the most-visited list, and three London museums rounded out the top five.

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The year's most popular exhibition was a show of Dutch Old Master's at the Metropolitan Art Museum in Tokyo, which included Vermeer's "Girl with a Pearl Earring," a 1665 painting that brought 10,500 visitors a day between June and September.

The Louvre has topped the Art Newspaper's most-visited list since it began in 2007, and its new Islamic art wing helped boost the number of people to make their way to the French institute.

The top 10 venues did not change much since 2011, but British museums did particularly well in 2012 because of London hosting the summer Olympics.

The Tate Modern attracted a particularly large number of visitors thanks to a retrospective of Damien Hirst and the Tanks installation, moving from 4.8 million visitors in 2011 to 5.3 million in 2012.

"It has been an extraordinary year at Tate Modern, opening the world's first museum galleries permanently dedicated to exhibiting live art, performance, installation and film works alongside an outstanding exhibition program which has undoubtedly fuelled the increase in visitors," Alex Beard, deputy director at the Tate, told BBC News.

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