One of the first places to visit when we are exploring a new city or simply rediscovering the city we live in; is definitely the creed of culture: an art museum.
Whether we visit as a tourist, as an art lover, or as a curious person looking to learn more, a day at an art museum is an adventure that will rarely leave us feeling the same way as before.
In this article, we will explore some of the world’s best, most memorable, and interesting art museums and galleries.
1. Vatican Museums, Italy
Pope Julius II was the founder who initiated the establishment of the Vatican museums at the turn of the 16th century.
The Stanze di Raffaello, which was decorated by Raphael, and the Sistine Chapel are both on the itinerary for visitors to the Vatican Museums. The Sistine Chapel is home to Michelangelo’s ceiling and altar wall.
Located in the heart of Italy, in Vatican City there is much to see and explore when seeing some of the most iconic and legendary artworks in the world.
The Vatican Museums have one of the largest and most impressive art collections in the world consisting of approximately 70,000 works, including the numerous Renaissance art masterpieces and Roman sculptures.
2. The Louvre, France
It’s almost impossible to come up with a list of the best art museums without mentioning The Louvre, its iconic pyramid, or the Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) painting.
The original structure of this fascinating art museum was built in the 12th century and was even a fortress at one point in time.
Fun fact: Right before the occupation of Paris by Nazi Germany in WW2, 4000 works of art were removed from the Louvre and hidden in a Loire Valley Chateau. The Louvre is also home to a quarter of Da Vinci’s artworks.
3. Tate Modern, England
As their official website puts it, Tate is a family of four art galleries in London, Cornwall, and Liverpool. Tate Modern, located in London on the banks of the River Thames is one of the 4 galleries.
The Tate is Britain’s national museum of contemporary and modern art where it’s possible to see famous works by artists such as Dali, Warhol, Picasso, Cézanne, etc. and the entry to the gallery is free of charge.
4. Uffizi Gallery, Italy
This prominent art gallery is located in the historic center of Florence in the Tuscany region. Uffizi Gallery hosts many great works of art by local Italian artists such as Giotto, Botticelli, and international Flemish, Dutch, and other artists such as Rembrandt and Rubens.
Impressive classical sculptures, all the way from the Middle Ages until today, can also be visited at the gallery. This astonishing art museum was previously a palace owned by the well-respected Medici family. Three centuries ago, this museum was donated to the city of Florence.
5. Museum of Modern Art, USA
Also known as “MoMa”, this Museum of Modern Art is located in the middle of New York’s Manhattan area and is focused on primarily American and European contemporary and modern artworks and installations.
A common theme of the artwork features 19th-century post-impressionism. Its collection consists of paintings, sculptures, photography, drawings, design, architecture, and many other art forms.
The museum has two movie theaters with more than 30 screenings per week and a sculpture garden designed by the artist Phillip Johnson. That is extremely impressive!
6. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, USA
MET is one of MoMa’s competitor museums for the best art displays in the world. The Met is only 2 miles from MoMa and is actually much larger!
In fact, it is considered by some to be the biggest museum in the United States. With that being said, it usually requires much more time to visit this wonderful art museum and see all it has to offer in comparison to MoMa.
The MET has around 3 million works covering the historical span of 5000 years and displays top art collections from various periods such as Medieval art, Asian art, modern art, and Greek and Roman galleries exploring several civilizations and time periods.
7. National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, South Korea
Located in South Korea, MMCA Seoul is one of the four branches of a national contemporary art museum showcasing extensive Korean artworks as well as international art from different periods.
The museum’s main building is in Gwacheon, and, similar to the British Tate museum, the other branches are in other Korean cities such as – Seoul, Deoksugung, and Cheongju.
The Seoul branch differs in its use of Korea’s traditional building concept of “Madang”, which involves a big courtyard where people can gather around and socialize.
8. Prado Museum, Spain
Officially known as Museo Nacional del Prado, this distinguished Spanish national art museum attracts a large number of tourists and guests on a daily basis. It is located in central Madrid and safeguards the most comprehensive and diverse collection of Spanish paintings in the world.
Its top collection of artwork ranges from the Renaissance period to the era of Picasso and includes over 20,000 works of art by world-famous artists such as Goya, Velasquez, and El Greco.
Some of the must-see paintings in the Prado museum include Velasquez’s intriguing baroque masterpiece Las Meninas or Bosch’s triptych oil painting The Garden of Earthly Delights rich with symbolism.
9. Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Museum Africa, South Africa
South Africa has a vibrant contemporary art scene with a lot of independent galleries showcasing the works of the world’s leading contemporary African artists.
One such museum is Zeitz MOCAA, the largest museum of contemporary African art in the world.
It is located at the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, in an old grain silo that used to be South Africa’s tallest building and still has a great view from the top floors.
10. Museum of Old and New Art – Tas, Australia
The Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA, is the biggest privately funded museum in the Southern Hemisphere.
As the name suggests, it is home to an ancient, modern, and contemporary top art collection owned by the professional art collector and a businessman David Walsh, who once described MONA as an “adult Disneyland”. This museum is located within a winery in Tasmania and hosts annual art festivals with public art and live performances.
Whether you decide to read this list of the best art galleries and museums from the bottom or top, it shouldn’t change its core message:
The world is rich with amazing artwork housed in unique and diverse art galleries and museums that should be explored as often as possible. – A.M.