Top 10 Best Art Museums in the World

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.

Sistine Chapel Vatican Museums, Italy
@Sistine Chapel

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.

Woman sitting in art gallery
Photo by Una Laurencic

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.

Pyramid at the Louvre in France
Photo by Pixabay

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.

London, Tate Modern Aerial River Thames
Photo by Dominika Greguu

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.

Ford Madox Brown 1864 King Rene's Honeymoon - Tate Museum England
Ford Madox Brown
King René‘s Honeymoon (1864)
Tate

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.

Vanmechelen’s “Black Medusa,” left, and “White Medusa,” right, are displayed alongside Caravaggio’s “Medusa.”, Uffizi Gallery
Vanmechelen’s “Black Medusa,” left, and “White Medusa,” right, are displayed alongside Caravaggio’s “Medusa.”, Uffizi Gallery

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!

August Macke Lady in a Park July 1914
August Macke Lady in a Park July 1914

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.

Title: Panel with the Triumph of Dionysos
Date: 4th–6th century
Title: Panel with the Triumph of Dionysos
Date: 4th–6th century

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.

MMCA South Korea Immersive art exhibits
MMCA South Korea

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.

Cup with a gold mermaid
1550 - 1575. Agate, Diamond, Enamel, Gold, Ruby.
Cup with a gold mermaid
1550 – 1575. Agate, Diamond, Enamel, Gold, Ruby.

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

The Knight of the Long Knives I - Athi-Patra Ruga - Zeitz MOCAA
The Knight of the Long Knives I – Athi-Patra RugaZeitz MOCAA

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

MONA Museum Tassie, Tasmania AU
@Mona

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.

Top 10 Best Art Museums in the World by Ajla Medanhodzic

Ajla is interested in various forms of storytelling. She writes screenplays, articles, reviews, and short stories.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Museums
https://thetourguy.com/travel-blog/france/paris/louvre/the-louvre-museum-facts-and-history/
https://www.visitlondon.com/things-to-do/place/344410-tate-modern
https://florencetips.com/uffizi_gallery.html
https://www.nyc-arts.org/organizations/1667/museum-of-modern-art
https://www.nyc-arts.org/organizations/2534/metropolitan-museum-of-art
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Museum_of_Modern_and_Contemporary_Art
https://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/ATR/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=1934745
https://www.pradomuseumtickets.com/
https://www.inyourpocket.com/johannesburg/10-amazing-south-african-art-museums_77962f
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeitz_Museum_of_Contemporary_Art_Africa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Old_and_New_Art

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