It’s estimated that there are over 55,000 museums in the world. They range from the world’s smallest, in a phone booth in England, to the vast expanse of the Smithsonian. Even for the most serious museum buff, that’s a lot of places to visit.
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most famous museums in the world. Read on to help prioritize your travel, then compare airfares and go!
10 of the World’s Most Famous Museums
Whether it’s ancient antiquities, works of art or social history there is something for everyone on this top 10 list. Here we go!
Musee d’Orsay, France
Topping the TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards in 2018, the Musee d’Orsay contains the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings in the world. Housed in a Beaux-Arts railway building, now repurposed as a museum and gallery you will find paintings, photography sculpture and more inside.
Primarily focusing on French artists, if the names Monet, Degas, and van Gogh mean anything to you, you will be delighted by a visit to the Musee d’Orsay, known as one of the best art museums in the world.
Vatican Museums, Vatican City
Founded by Pope Julius II in the early 16th Century, The Vatican Museums are home to over 70,000 items relating to Christianity and art. A trip to the museums includes a visit to the Sistine Chapel, where Michelangelo painted his famous ceiling. Made up of 54 individual galleries, the Vatican Museums’ collection includes works by the Masters of Renaissance art as well as a portrait gallery of past Popes.
Museum Island, Berlin
If ancient artifacts are your interest, then Berlin’s Museumsinsel (Museum Island) is a must-visit. It is, in fact, a location with five separate museums, that includes the bust of Nefertiti, the Pergamon Altar and the Ishtar Gate in their collections. Admission is free for under-18’s, and with five museums to explore it would be easy to spend more than a day enjoying works of art and objects from ancient civilizations.
The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum, New York
2,977 people lost their lives in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993. This museum and memorial are located at the site of the Twin Towers which were destroyed during the attack. It comprises of two pools, which echo the footprint of the World Trade Center and includes the name of everyone who lost their lives in the attack.
The underground museum includes artifacts from the attack, such as iron from the towers. It includes the burial site and memorial to the unidentified remains of victims of the tragedy. Visitors to the site describe it as a moving experience, and that the emotive subject matter is well handled. This is what makes it a frequent inclusion on lists of the best museums in the US.
The Louvre, Paris
When it comes to famous art galleries, the Louvre is probably the top of that list. Home to the Mona Lisa, it also houses works from Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Bellini.
In addition to its reputation for art, The Louvre is also home to an impressive selection of antiquities, including items from Egypt, the near East, Roman, Etruscan and Greek and Islamic Art. Before visiting, do your research to decide what to see at the Louvre, to make sure you don’t miss out on their many less famous treasures.
The British Museum, London
The Bloomsbury Group of writers and artists lived and worked in the area surrounding the British Museum. It’s no surprise that intellectuals such as Virginia Woolf were drawn to the area, as the museum has been home to a collection of works related to human history, art and culture since its opening in 1753.
It contains the largest collection of Egyptian antiquities outside Egypt, as well as the Elgin Marbles which were originally part of the Parthenon and Acropolis of Athens. The British Library is also a part of the museum, which is one of the United Kingdom’s repository libraries and as such receives a copy of every book published in the country.
Prado National Museum, Madrid
Another of the world’s most famous museums, the Prado is widely considered to have the best collection of European art in the world. The collection includes items dating from the 12th to the 20th century.
Located in central Madrid, the museum is home to paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures. Perhaps best known for displaying Velàzquez’s Las Meninas, it also has several Titians, and works by Rembrandt and Van Dyke in its collection.
The Smithsonian, Washington
No list of museums would be complete without mention of the Smithsonian, originally known as The United States National Museum and still called, affectionately, America’s attic. It hosts 154 million items and is comprised of 19 museums, 9 research centers, and a zoo although not all of those are at the Washington site.
Admission is free, and 32 million visitors attend over the course of a year. With topics from air and space, natural history and culture heritage covered, you can either return to the Smithsonian many times or spend a week or more exploring it.
National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City
The largest and most visited museum in Mexico, The National Museum of Anthropology is located in Chapultepec Park. Its collection includes objects from Mexico’s pre-Columbian history including the Sun Stone and the Aztec Xochipilli statue.
In addition to celebrating Mexico’s past, the museum is also host to visiting displays that examine the culture of other countries. There are 23 rooms to explore as well as gardens which also contain exhibits.
The Acropolis Museum, Athens
You can literally walk over history at the Acropolis Musem, as the glass floor allows visitors to view the excavated site beneath. The museum itself is home to finds from the slopes of the Acropolis itself. Take time to view the frieze of the Parthenon, now displayed on a structure with the same dimensions as the Parthenon itself.
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If this list of the World’s most famous museums has given you the urge to travel and see some of them, can we recommend you take a look at our travel section? It’s packed with tips and advice to help you get the best value for money on flights, hotels and more. Check it out, today.