No matter how much time or money you spend, you can’t say you’ve really been to a city until you’ve visited its art museum. Art is the one thing every great civilization produces. If you can travel the world, make sure these three world-famous museums are on your to-see list.
1. The Louvre (Paris, France)
For centuries, France was the country all others admired and imitated for its culture, from language to fashion to food. All great artists from Hemingway to Van Gogh lived and worked at least temporarily in Paris. Today, you can see countless of the nation’s finest art — and treasures from everywhere else — through history and prehistory, in the Louvre. Not only is it the largest art museum in the world, but its buildings are also works of art. The former Louvre Palace is a grand structure that embodies architectural styles spanning the eras, while the famous and oft-photographed Louvre glass pyramids were designed by American architect I.M. Pei. Inside, the Louvre is home to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, various Rembrandt and da Vinci pieces, and simply too many must-see artworks for a single visit.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City, USA)
On a smaller scale but of equal fame is the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the top city for American artists. The Met is the largest art museum in the United States and houses instantly recognizable works by Monet (Water Lilies), Degas (The Little Dancer), Van Gogh (Starry Night), and other masters. The museum boasts two million pieces or “5000 years of art” in its collections, divided among its three buildings. The main building also features a rooftop garden, where you can rest and enjoy a view of the city as if it’s another painting. If you live in the notoriously expensive NYC, you won’t even have to worry about ticket prices — for locals, admission is by donation.
3. The British Museum (London, UK)
The British Museum is not only the UK’s biggest museum, but also the world’s first (public) museum. It is controversial yet unsurprising that the greatest colonizing force in history has managed to acquire such a vast collection of art, from Egypt’s Rosetta Stone to the Easter Island statue. While you will probably never see all eight million pieces displayed here, at least you can try: Admission to all national museums in the UK is free, even for international visitors. As a bonus, the museum is located not far from the Royal Opera House, the British Library, and the Royal Academy of Arts, among other cultural landmarks. The British Museum officially turns 260 years old in 2019.
To broaden your cultural horizons, make sure you visit these world-famous museums. After that, why not check out Rijksmuseum in the Netherlands, Taipei National Palace Museum in Taiwan, or the State Hermitage Museum in Russia? As the old masters would say, visiting art museums is the best art education a person could have.