For those travelers looking to get an immersive cultural experience in a new local during a vacation, there is no better stop than visiting a museum. Rich with artifacts, documents, and detailed exhibits, museums provide a lens into the path and include items that are true marvels. Across the world, there are numerous locations with one-of-a-kind exhibits, but these top museums around the world are a step above the rest. Listed in no particular order, make sure to take a pit stop while galivanting on your next vacation.
1. The Louvre (France)
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum encompassing over 780,000 square feet and is a historic monument in Paris. On the Right Bank of the Seine, The Louvre holds over 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century. Through the beautiful Tuileries Garden and the Porte De Lions Entrance, the collections in the museum are so vast and diverse in eight thematic departments. Housed in the Palais du Louvre (Louvre Palace), the former seat of French royalty, The Louvre is a behemoth and is the world’s most visited museum.
2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York)
Featuring more than 5,000 years of art from across the world in its location on Fifth Avenue, The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located in New York City’s Museum Mile on the Upper East Side. Known as “The Met”, it is the largest art museum in the United States whose permanent collection contains over two million works. From works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, European masters, modern art and more, The Met regularly hosts notable special exhibitions from esteemed artists across the world.
3. Musée d’Orsay (France)
Housed in the former Orsay railway station, Musée d’Orsay is well-known for its collection of impressionist art and Old Masters. On the Left Bank of the Seine, the museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914 including those of Paul Cézanne, Claude Monet, and Auguste Renoir. The museum is one of the largest art museums in Europe and houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world which includes: paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography.
4. Prado National Museum (Spain)
In the center of Madrid, the Prado National Museum contains art dating from the 12th century to the early 20th century. Home to the single best collection of Spanish art from masters like Francisco Goya, the single most extensively represented artist, as well as by Hieronymus Bosch, Titian, and Diego Velázquez, El Prado’s collection comprises drawings, paintings, prints, and sculptures. The best-known work on display at the museum is Las Meninas by Velázquez.
5. Hermitage Museum (Russia)
Located on the banks of the Neva River, The Hermitage Museum was formerly a palace of the Russian czars and as such is quite ornamental. Inside the structure that features frescoed walls and ceilings, mosaic-tiled floors, and crystal chandeliers, is a collection comprised of over three million items. In five of the museum’s six buildings which are open to the public, enjoy a large collection that features works from Da Vinci, Raphael, and Rembrandt. Free of charge the first Thursday of every month for all visitors, accessible through the Courtyard come to the Winter Palace to purchase your tickets.
6. The British Museum (London)
Founded in 1753, The British Museum is the first public museum in the world and houses a number of antiquities, books, manuscripts, and ethnographic material. Dedicated to human history, art and culture, the museum’s permanent collection hovers around eight million pieces. The Museum has 10 curatorial and research departments spanning the globe and includes prints, drawings, coins and medals, antiquities, and other significant research materials.
7. Acropolis Museum (Athens)
Focused on the findings of the archaeological site of the Acropolis of Athens, the Acropolis Museum houses artifacts from the Greek Bronze Age to Roman and Byzantine Greece. Located over the ruins of a part of Roman and early Byzantine Athens, the archaeological museum was founded in 2003 and exhibits more that 4,000 objects. Located just a short walk from the Parthenon, it is perched above Athens and is framed by olive trees and propped up by concrete pillars in the central neighborhood of Makrigianni.
8. The Shrine of the Book (Israel)
In the Givat Ram neighborhood of Jerusalem, The Shrine of the Book is a wing of the Israel Museum that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls. The white-tiled dome structure features two-thirds of the museum below the ground, the shrine houses the Isaiah scroll, dating from the second century BCE, the most intact of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the Aleppo Codex.
9. The Egyptian Museum (Cairo)
Home to an extensive collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities, The Egyptian Museum houses over 120,000 items on its two floors. The ground floor features an extensive collection of papyrus and coins used in the Ancient world while the first floor includes artifacts from the final two dynasties of Egypt, including items from the tombs of the Pharaohs, while two rooms contain mummies of kings. So definitely make sure to request the travel agency that’s organizing your trip to include The Egyptian Museum in their custom Egypt tours.
10. Kunsthistorisches Museum (Austria)
Housed in its festive palatial building on Ringstraße, the Kunsthistorisches Museum was opened in 1891. Crowned with an octagonal dome that is 60 meters high, the museum features eight collections ranging from a collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, the Imperial Armory, and the Kunstkammer Wien. The lavish interior of the building houses the collections of the Habsburg emperors and archdukes from ancient Egypt and Greece to the late 18th century.
11. Vatican City (Italy)
The independent city-state enclaved within Rome, Vatican City is the smallest state in the world by both area and population. Established in 1929 with the Lateran Treaty, the area is ruled by the pope and contains religious and cultural sites such as St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel, and the Vatican Museums. One of the most sacred places in Christendom, it is the site of the tomb of the Apostle Saint Peter and is a creation of the Renaissance and of Baroque art
12. Galleria degli Uffizi (Italy)
Located adjacent to the Piazza Della Signoria in the Historic Centre of Florence, the Galleria Degli Uffizi holds priceless works, especially from the Italian Renascence period. The gallery was opened to the public originally in 1765 before formally becoming a museum in 1865. From ancient sculptures and paintings from the Middle Ages to the Modern period, the gallery also includes busts from the Medici family, whose collection is featured throughout the gallery.
13. The Natural History Museum (London)
In Central London, The Natural History Museum cares for more than 80 million specimens spanning billions of years. Broken into five main collections: botany, entomology, mineralogy, paleontology, and zoology, the museum is also a leading scientific research center. One of the most famous and certainly most prominent of the exhibits is the 105-foot-long replica of the Diplodocus dinosaur skeleton, approximately nicknamed Dippy.
14. Museum of Fine Arts (Boston)
Containing more than 450,000 works of art, The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is the fifth largest museum in the United States. While the museum was founded in 1870, it moved to its current location and recent renovations saw the creation of the Art of the Americas Wing to feature artwork from North, South, and Central America. At the museum, victors can experience art from ancient Egyptian to contemporary along with special exhibitions and innovative educational programs.