Best art museums in the world you must visit
Visiting an art museum is a great way to see and experience all types of art. An art museum is not only limited to paintings; photographs, artist’s books, archaeological finds, prints, sculptures, textiles and drawings are all on display for visitors to enjoy. While the primary focus of an art museum is to exhibit visual art, occasionally it transforms into a venue for artistic events such as poetry/book readings and plays. Following are some of the most famous art museums and galleries in the world that you must visit!
Le Louvre, Paris, France
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Le Louvre is undoubtedly amongst the most admired art museums globally, it’s famously known for being the home of the Mona Lisa portrait which is framed and enclosed in bullet proof glass and also surrounded at all times by security guards. The Louvre is a historic monument and the central landmark of Paris, it prides itself on being the most visited museum with 8.1 million visitors in the year 2017 alone! The Louvre Pyramid is a massive metal and glass pyramid: it is surrounded by three smaller pyramids and these can be found at the main entrance of the museum.
What once was a fortress and then a palace is now a 652,000 sq ft museum holding more than 380,000 items and 35,000 art displays. There are 8 different curatorial departments to which the art works belong: Egyptian antiquities, Near Eastern antiquities, Greek, Etruscan & Roman department, Islamic art, sculptures, decorative arts, prints & drawings and paintings. While all of them hold important pieces of historical interest, the items in the paintings collection are perhaps the most well-known ones.
Some notable paintings in addition to the Mona Lisa are Liberty Leading the People, The Lacemaker, The Astronomer, Calvarys, Madonna of the Rocks, Virgin and Child with St. Anne and paintings by masters Michelangelo and Raphael. An interesting bit of information about the museum is that the scenes in the movie Da Vinci Code (based on the controversial Dan Brown novel) were shot at The Louvre itself and the filmmakers had to pay a whopping 2.5 million USD to make that happen! The Louvre also has an underground shopping mall and you will be able to do shopping along with your loved ones during the stay.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, United States
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art or The Met is America’s finest and largest museum: being one of the most famous museums in the world it carries art from over 5000 years ago. It welcomes around 7 million visitors a year and is the 3rd most visited art museum worldwide. The Met is amongst New York City’s primary attractions and is situated in the heart of the city in Central Park. The museum’s permanent collection holds more than 2 million works of art which are split among 17 curatorial departments.
The art works are from American & modern art, Islamic art, African art, Asian art, Oceanian art, Byzantine art, ancient Egypt and classical antiquity, sculptures by European masters and of course paintings. In addition to this, the Met’s galleries boast of installations from numerous notable interiors (modern American design, first-century Rome, etc.) and the encyclopedic collections comprise of antique armor and weapons, accessories, costumes and musical instruments.
The Met’s galleries also hold several period rooms for history enthusiasts. The Met hosts several events throughout the year including the annual Met gala which is a fundraiser that marks the opening of the museum’s fashion exhibit. The Met Gala is attended by several A-list celebrities who are dressed in their best outfits to match the set theme. The Costume Institute department holds over 35,000 dresses and accessories and though it does not maintain a permanent collection, it holds 2 shows yearly (the Met Gala being one of them) in the galleries and provides plenty of opportunity for viewers to see the different costumes.
The prints and drawings departments contains many notable art works including those done by Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Amongst the notable paintings at the museum are Cypresses & The Starry Night both by Vincent Van Gogh and the Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna. The museum is also home to the Robert Lehman Wing which is a personal collection of 2600 works of art donated by Robert Lehman himself.
State Hermitage, Saint Petersburg, Russia
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The State Hermitage Museum is located in Saint Petersburg in Russia and is the second largest art & culture museum in the world. Only a small part of the museum’s collections is on permanent display: the entire collection holds over 3 million items and the museum also has the largest paintings collection in the world. The Hermitage’s collection comprises of Egyptian antiquities, classical antiquities, jewelry and decorative art, prehistoric art, Spanish and Italian fine art, Russian art and much much more. Some of the renowned works of art include The Madonna Litta, Apostles Peter and Paul, Portrait of a Lady in Blue and The Return of the Prodigal Son.
The Prado, Madrid, Spain
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The Museo del Prado or the Prado Museum is Spain’s National art museum and has the finest collection of European art in the world. It was initially a museum of sculptures and paintings but now has many other items as well. The Prado has the best Spanish art collection and displays art work by numerous brilliant artists such as Francisco Goya, El Greco, Titian and Diego Velazquez. Las Meninas by Velazquez is the most famous painting at The Prado. The museum has plans to extend by 16% and these will be completed by 2019.
The British Museum, London, England
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Located in Bloomsbury, the museum is a public institution centered around art & culture and human history. Holding more than 8 million works it is has one of the most comprehensive and largest collections in the world. It’s famously known for documenting the human culture from the very beginning of time! The museum represents all cultures of the world, both modern and ancient. Some popular exhibitions are the Ice Age Art and The Life & Death in Pompeii. The ancient Egypt & Sudan department has over 100,000 important Egyptian antiquities that represent the Egyptian culture from over 11,000 years. The British museum also has the largest online database listing 2 million individual objects and 650,000 illustrated ones.
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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As the name suggests, this museum is entirely dedicated to the iconic artist Vincent Van Gogh. The museum has the largest Van Gogh collection in the world: 700 letters, 200 paintings and 400 drawings. The permanent collection is displayed in one wing of the museum. The museum also displays works of Van Gogh’s admirers and contemporaries. Some of the paintings that can be seen there are Sunflowers, The Potato Eaters, The Yellow House and The Bedroom in Arles. The museum also has a café and a souvenir store selling all sorts of items including reproductions of some of the paintings. The museum as a whole is a unique experience as it provides visitors a glimpse into the remarkable and inspirational life led by Van Gogh.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
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Located on the Left Bank of The Seine, the museum is home to French art that dates from 1848 to 1914. One can find French paintings, sculptures, photography and furniture. The museum boasts the works of painters such as Monet, Degas, Van Gogh, Renoir and sculptors like Jules Cavelier, Camille Claudel and Paul Gauguin. The museum is amongst Europe’s largest art museums.
The Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Italy
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The Musei Vaticani are Christian and art museums found within Vatican City, the displayed works are from the collections of the Popes throughout hundreds of years. Many historical masterpieces of Renaissance Art can be found here. The museum is also home to the collection of Modern Religious Art which includes paintings and sculptures by the great Pablo Picasso, Paul Klee, Marc Chagall and Carlo Carra. The museum offers more than just paintings: it has the red marble papal throne, The Bramante Staircase, The Gallery of Maps, The Sistine Chapel and The Raphael Rooms.
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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The national Rijksmuseum is a Dutch museum in Amsterdam dedicated to art and history. The museum comprises of 1 million objects dating from the years 1200 to 2000. Some of the 2000 paintings from the Dutch Golden Age collection includes work from painters like Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Jan Steen and Jacob van Ruisdael. The Rijksmuseum web platform gives users access to 125,000 images in HR quality and the museum plans to continue doing so till all of its 1 million works are available online.
National Gallery of Art, London, England
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Dedicated primarily to European Art, the National Gallery in Westminster Square is the 4th most visited art museum in the world. It has one of the finest paintings collection globally and is known to have art works by some of the greatest painters in the world. Among these are Venus & Mars by Botticelli, The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci, The Madonna of the Pinks by Raphael, The Entombment by Michelangelo and The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck.
The Acropolis Museum, Athens, Greece
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Acropolis is an archaeological museum that is mainly focused on the archaeological findings of the Acropolis of Athens. All of the artefacts that were found on the rock as well as the surrounding slopes are believed to be displayed at the museum. The museum itself is built on the ruins of a former Athenian neighborhood, hence the majority of the walls are made from glass to give visitors the whole experience. It is an exciting place to be for anyone who has an interest in Greek mythology as the museum also has plenty of objects from all the historic periods.
Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC, United States
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The Smithsonian Institution is a group of research centers and museums administered by the US government with the purpose of increasing and diffusing knowledge. The institution holds 9 research centers, 19 museums, a zoological park and a total of 154 million items! The institution does not charge its visitors and boasts of 30 million visitors annually. The Smithsonian is named after James Smithson, the British scientist. The National Museum of Natural History is the most well-known museum of the lot and it houses 145 million artefacts and specimens. Other museums include the Air & Space Museum and the National History Museum. Some of the highlights from the museums are as follows: Michelle Obama’s inaugural gown (The First Ladies exhibition), Star-Spangled Banner, Ruby Slippers, George Washington’s Uniform, Thomas Edison’s light bulb, Julia Child’s Kitchen and Thomas Jefferson’s Desk.
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
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The Uffizi Gallery is home to priceless art works from the Italian Renaissance period, it is one of Italy’s most important museums. The Uffizi is a major tourist attraction in Tuscany and is also one of the first modern museums in the world. Therefore, you will be able to witness a lot of unique features during the stay at this museum. The gallery holds paintings from the 13th to the 20th centuries, numerous notable sculptures and about 80,000 manuscripts and articles. The Tuscan inspired interior of the gallery is breathtakingly beautiful making the gallery a must visit destination in Florence.
Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy
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Located in the former Villa Borghese, the Galleria Borghese is an art gallery surrounded by the beautiful Villa Borghese Gardens (this is considered a different attraction hence separate tickets have to be purchased). The gallery is home to a sizeable amount of the Borghese collection which includes, but is not limited to antiquities, sculptures and paintings. Twenty rooms spread across two floors are filled with all sorts of art objects, the most notable of which include The Deposition by Raphael, The Last Supper by Jacopo Bassano, Madonna, Child & Serpent by Caravaggio, Madonna and Child by Giovani Bellini, Venus blindfolding Cupid by Titian and St. John the Baptist by Paolo Veronese.