Museums are doing well despite economy

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Attendance at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum rocketed to 7 million in 2008 — an increase of two million since our last report. The home of the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer, the Apollo 11 command module, and a fleet of other airborne wonders touched down in a tie for first place on the Forbes Traveler’s most-visited museum list.

In fact, the Smithsonian’s overall headcount was up two million compared with the 2006 numbers, for a grand total of 25.2 million visits. The vast and diverse collection of institutions in Washington, D.C., are perennial visitor favorites.

As the economic downturn set in last year, it may have helped that the Smithsonian's admission was free. But elsewhere, attendance largely kept pace with previous years' numbers.

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