The 35 Best Museums In The World (Part 1)
With the help of design firm Heatherwick Studio, the once magnolia yellow, century-old grain silo complex in the heart of Cape Town transformed into a 100-gallery museum of 21st-century art from Africa and its diaspora. Zeitz MOCAA hosts international events and exhibitions to provide an intercultural look into the world of African art. Works from revolutionary artists such as Kudzanai Chiurai of Zimbabwe and Wangechi Mutu of Kenya decorate the nine floors of the museum.
When the National Gallery of Canada was established in 1880, the first exhibition primarily consisted of 19th-century works at the historic Clarendon Hotel in Ottawa. Over 140 years later, a 30-foot bronze spider, called the Maman, greets visitors at the gallery’s new home designed by architect Moshe Safdie. The national art museum now houses 75,000 works of art ranging for Canadian and Indigenous pieces to the neoclassicist painting The Death of General Wolfe by Benjamin West.
The birth of Tate Modern began in 1889 when Henry Tate, a British industrialist, donated his collection of British 19th-century art and provided funding for the first Tate Gallery. A century later, the Tate Trustees announced the development of an international modern and contemporary art gallery. Located within the former Bankside Power Station, the gallery showcases groundbreaking works including Marilyn Diptych by Andy Warhol and Nude Woman With Necklace by Pablo Picasso.
The beginnings of the Metropolitan Museum of Art date back as far as 1866 in Paris, France, where a group of Americans discussed the need to bring art education to the public. On April 13, 1870, the Met opened within the historic Dodworth Building before moving to its permanent location on Fifth Avenue and 82nd Street in 1880. The museum presents over 5,000 years of artwork including Islamic art dating back to the seventh century and the well-known Edgar Degas’ painting, The Dance Class.
Known as the Royal Picture Gallery of the Netherlands, Mauritshuis houses a rare collection of Golden Age paintings from countless Dutch and Flemish artisans. In 1816, King William I offered the collections once owned by his father, stadtholder Prince William V, to the Dutch state, establishing the first national gallery in The Hague. The Mauritshuis’ 841 works of art include Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring and Carel Fabritius’ The Goldfinch.
The National Palace Museum originally began as the former Palace Museum in the Forbidden City, whose collection included artwork from the Ming and Qing dynasties. The permanent collection features nearly 700,000 pieces of imperial artifacts and encompasses 8,000 years of Chinese history including calligraphic works by Tang Yin. The National Palace Museum compound also includes the classic Chinese Song- and Ming-style Zhishan Garden.
One of the largest museums in North Africa, the Egyptian Museum houses nearly 120,000 ancient Egyptian artifacts and the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. The museum was commissioned in 1835 by the Egyptian government in hopes to stop the looting of many archeological and historic sites. Visitors can come face-to-face with the Gold Mask of Tutankhamun, which is composed of 11 kilograms of solid gold.
Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary commissioned the Kunsthistorisches Museumaround 1891 as a place to display the terrific art collection from the House of Hapsburgs, which is the still the museum’s primary collection. Housed within the palatial building on Ringstraße, the museum’s works includes Madonna del Prato by Raphael and Diego Velázquez’s well-known portrait Infanta Margarita Teresa in a Blue Dress.
Inaugurated in 2000, Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico’s mission is to promote visual arts from Puerto Rico and around the world to a diverse audience. The museum’s primary and expansive collection of Puerto Rican art ranges from the 16th-century to the present. The museum includes pieces such as Chula (Girl in typical Madrid Costume) by José Cuchy y Arnau and the 18th-century work The Daughters of Governor Ramón de Castro by José Campeche.
The first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art since 1935, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art boasts an impressive seven floors of galleries with over 33,000 works and a wall seeded with thousands of plants. SFMOMA holds some of the most internationally recognizable modern art pieces including Henri Matisse’s Woman with a Hat and Marcel Duchamp’s provocative Fountain.
The largest and most visited museum in Mexico, Museo Nacional De Antropologíaspecializes in the history of the country’s pre-Columbian heritage through archaeological artifacts. Architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez paid tribute to the indigenous legacy of Mexico by building the museum in the Chapultepec Forest, emphasizing a natural relationship with the environment. The 600,000 piece collection includes the Aztec Stone of Sun and the Xochipilli statue.
The Musée D’Orsay, once a railway station, houses an internationally renowned collection of Impressionist art and other Western pieces from 1848 and 1914. Architect Victor Laloux built the original magnificent structure in 1900 to welcome in visitors to the World’s Fair. After its closure in 1939, the Beaux-Arts station remained in a state of disuse until President Valery Giscard authorized renovations on the historic building in the late 1970s. Inaugurated in 1986, the white limestone walls are now home to some of the most notable artworks in France, like sculptures by Auguste Rodin and paintings by Paul Gauguin.