If you’re a fan of art or history, museums are sure to be a must-see on any vacation. But with hundreds of museums around the world, it can be hard to know where to begin.
This list compiles 11 of the most magnificent museums and art galleries from around the world, filled with incredible collections that are sure to take your breath away. With some of the largest and most important art and antiquities collections on the planet, these museums are well worth a trip.
11. The Tate Britain, London
Together with the Tate Modern, Tate Britan holds much of the national collection of British art from the 1500s to the present, including a large collection of the works of William Turner.
LOOK OUT FOR: Millais’ Ophelia, Waterhouse’s The Lady of Shallott, Rossetti’s The Beloved, Turner’s Snow Storm – Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth and A Disaster at Sea
10. Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo
The oldest Japanese museum, the Tokyo National Museum houses collection of art and archaeology from all over Asia. It has one of the best collections of Greco-Buddhist art, as well as ancient Japanese art.
LOOK OUT FOR: Gandhara Standing Buddha, Calligraphy in the National Treasure Gallery, and Samurai Armor in the Honkan Japanese Gallery.
9. National Palace Museum, Taipei
This museum houses a permanent collection of nearly 700,000 ancient Chinese imperial art and artifacts. Many of these were evacuated to Taiwan after World War II, and are connected to the Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City.
LOOK OUT FOR: The Zong Zhou Zhong (Bell of Zhou), Guo Xi’s Early Spring, and Huang Gongwang’s Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains
8. Museum of Modern Art, New York City
Popularly known as MoMA, this art museum located in Midtown Manhattan has one of the most comprehensive collections of modern art in the world. Van Gogh, Cézanne, Matisse, Magritte, Picasso, Pollock, Dali, and Warhol are all represented here.
LOOK OUT FOR: van Gogh’s The Starry Night (pictured), Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Cezanne’s The Bather, Matisse’s The Dance (I), Monet’s Water Lilies, Salvador Dali’s The Persistence of Memory, Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, and Roy Lichtenstein’s Drowning Girl.
7. Musée d’Orsay, Paris
Housed in a former railway station, Paris‘ Musée d’Orsay is known for its vast collection of impressionist and post-impressionist works. Seminal artists like Van Gogh, Cezanne, Rodin, Renoir, and Monet are displayed here.
LOOK OUT FOR: Whistler’s Mother, van Gogh’s Self-portrait (1889), Manet’s Olympia, Renoir’s Bal du Moulin de la Galette, Monet’s Women in the Garden, Cézanne’s The Card Players, Courbet’s The Artist’s Studio, and Degas’ The Ballet Class.
6. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum displays thousands of objects of Dutch art and history. It is Located in Amsterdam‘s Museum Square (Museumplein) near the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Among its masterpieces lies a vast library, and a collection of exquisite doll houses and porcelain.
LOOK OUT FOR: Rembrandt’s The Night Watch and Early Self Portrait, Vermeer’s The Milkmaid, The Doll’s House of Petronella Oortman, the Cuypers Library, Anthonius Mor’s Portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham Franz Hals’ Wedding Portrait Of Isaac Massa and Beatrix Van Der Laen And Van Gogh’s Self Portrait (1887).
5. Egyptian Museum, Cairo
Cario’s Egyptian Museum features some of the greatest archaeological finds from all over Egypt. It is technically known as the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities. It has over 120,000 items, though only a fraction is on display at any given point. However, by November 2018, many of these will be relocated to the new Grand Egyptian Museum near Giza.
LOOK OUT FOR: Tutankhamun’s Mask (pictured), The Narmer Palette, Statue of Menkaure, Bust of Akhenaten, The Seneb Statue, Mummy of Hatshepsut, The Merneptah Stele, and The Statue of Amenhotep III and Tiye
4. Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
This vast museum has over two million items, though only a small part is on display. Spread out over five palaces, it would take you weeks to cover the entire collection. Apart from the displays of coins, antiques, sculptures, and artifacts, it houses the largest collection of paintings in the world.
LOOK OUT FOR: Titian’s Penitent Magdalene, Matisse’s The Dance and Music, the Kolyvan Vase, Raphael’s Madonna Conestabile, da Vinci’s Madonna Litta, Canova’s Three Graces, and the Hermitage cats.
3. The Prado, Madrid
The Museo Nacional Del Prado commonly referred to as just “The Prado,” contains the world’s greatest collection of Spanish art. Based on the former Spanish Royal Collection, it has works by masters such as Velasquez, Goya, and El Greco. It also has an excellent collection of other European art.
LOOK OUT FOR: Velázquez’s The Triumph of Bacchus (pictured) and Las Meninas, Goya’s The Executions, La maja desnuda, and La maja vestida, El Greco’s The Fable and The Flight into Egypt, Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights, Rubens’ The Judgement of Paris and The Three Graces, and Zurbarán’s Agnus Dei
2. Museumplatz, Berlin
Berlin‘s “Museum Island” comprises of five large museums that are each spectacular in their own right. The Pergamon Museum houses treasures from the Ancient Near East and Islamic art; the Bode Museum exhibits late Antique and Byzantine art and sculpture; the Neues Museum holds Egyptian, and prehistoric collections; while the Altes Museum displays its Greek antiques. The Alte Nationalgalerie serves as an art gallery.
LOOK OUT FOR: The Pergamon Altar, the Ishtar Gate of Babylon (pictured), the Aleppo room, Robbia’s Virgin with Child, the ‘Berlin Golden Hat’, Bust of Nefertiti, Portraits of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII, Wounded Amazon, and Friedrich’s Der Mönch am Meer.
1. The Smithsonian, Washington D.C.
Considered the world’s largest museum and “the nation’s attic,” the Smithsonian Institute houses almost 150 million items in over 19 museums (and a zoo). Detailing American history and culture, it also serves as a research center and a vast archive of books and films.
LOOK OUT FOR: The Apollo 11 command module and the Wright Brothers’ 1903 plane, the Spirit of St. Louis at the National Air and Space Museum; the Hope Diamond and the Crystal Skull at the National Museum of Natural History; and the original Star-Spangled Banner and the dresses of the First Ladies at the National Museum of American History.
Also read our next segment on 11 more magnificent museums to see.