Twelve of the Best Museums in the World

best museums in the world

The best pieces of art, generated from thousands of years of human invention, need to be placed in the best museums to show our appreciation.  Around the world are some of the most prestigious and beautiful museums known to humankind and all of them contain a literal treasure-trove of priceless artifacts from days gone by and from contemporary creation.  Some of these museums themselves have been around for centuries, while others were made by master architects much more recently.  Whatever the story, here’s a look at the twelve best museums in the world.

1. London, England: The British Museum

The British Museum
The British Museum – London

As the largest museum in Britain, this jewel of the nation contains the national collection of priceless archaeological and ethnographical artifacts – over eight million of them, to be precise.  Everything from some of the finest Egyptian antiquities in the world (including the Rosetta Stone, which was created in 196 BC), to prehistoric bones, to pieces of the Parthenon in Athens itself are all housed here, making The British Museum a staple of any art historian’s vacation.  One of the best museums in the world?  It’s completely free to visit, every day from 10am – 5:30pm!

2. Amsterdam, the Netherlands: Rijksmuseum

Rijksmuseum - Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam

This location contains almost a million objects, the largest in all the Netherlands.  This collection of art and history is probably most famous for its collection of Dutch masters, such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, and has been a fixture of Amsterdam since 1800.  This world-renowned museum also holds many examples from the Middle Ages and remains one of the best museums in the world, and certainly the most visited in the Netherlands.  A record number of visitors came to the location in 2013/2014 – a figure that sits at around 2.45 million!

3. St. Petersburg, Russia: State Hermitage

State Hermitage Museum - St Petersburg Russia
State Hermitage Museum – St-Petersburg (Russia)

While not necessarily thought of as an artistic hub, like Britain, France, and Italy, the Hermitage in Russia has still managed to gather an impressive and world-class gallery of exquisite items from all over the world.  Boasting over three million individual pieces running the gamut from the Stone Age to the modern era, the museum is fully contained within six individual buildings along the Neva River.  The Winter Palace, the primary building of the museum, was completed in 1764 and happened to be where the Russian Czars resided; a fitting place to house their collections, all gathered from complete masters of the craft: from van Gogh and da Vinci to Picasso and many in between.

4. Athens, Greece: The Acropolis Museum

The Acropolis Museum - Athens
The Acropolis Museum – Athens (Greece)

This ancient and breathtaking site is the location of historic architecture that dazzles the mind and truly creates wonder within everyone.  The site of the famous Parthenon is also known for its archaeological significance, as well as its artistic relevance.  The exhibits in this location all tell the story of ancient Greece and are a sight to behold, and truly act as a window for the ancient times long past. The name itself comes from the Greek words “Highest point” and “City,” and although there are many other ‘high points’ in the city, there is no misunderstanding when “The Acropolis” is named. This historical location is one of the best museums in the world.

5. Madrid, Spain: Museo del Prado

El Prado Museum - Madrid
Museo del Prado – Madrid (Spain)

As main Spanish national art museum, the Prado is known for being the single most representative and impressive collection of Spanish artworks, dating from the 12th century all the way to the early modern period.  Featuring amazing Spanish masters such as Velázquez, Goya, and many others, this expertly well-stocked and groomed museum is a perfect experience for any potential visitor.  The building itself, opened by Fernando VII in 1819, has been open to the public ever since and has built up the artistic reputation of Spain into a master country. El Museo del Prado deserves to be considered among the 12 best museums in the world.

6. Florence, Italy: The Uffizi Gallery

The Uffizi Gallery - Florence (Italy)
The Uffizi Gallery – Florence (Italy)

This gallery is home to some of the most famous Renaissance paintings ever conceived.  This complex began as offices for Florentine magistrates in 1560 and grew and filled with all kinds of art, transforming it into the beautiful gallery that it is today.  All kinds of Italian masters reside in this wonderful gallery, including Botticelli and his Birth of Venus.  The gallery also contains the likes of Caravaggio, Fra Filippo Lippi, Rembrandt and many other masters.  Italy has always been a mecca for art, and this gallery is proof of that.

7. Paris, France:  Le Louvre

Le Louvre Museum - Paris
Le Louvre Museum – Paris (France)

This magnificent medieval fortress and palace became a museum a little over two hundred years ago and has stood as a monument for masterpieces of the world for as long.  The collections housed here are some of the most impressive ever seen and boast some of the most famous pieces of artwork the world over: from the Venus de Milo to the Mona Lisa, the Louvre museum is truly a world-class art location.  The Louvre also contains impressive Egyptian, Near Eastern and Islamic collections as well, truly diversifying their overall display and make it part of the best museums in the world.

8. Washington, D.C.: The Smithsonian Institution

Smithsonian Institution – Washington D.C.

Wearing the prestigious mantle of the world’s largest research institution and museum compound – comprising 19 museums, a number of research stations, and the National Zoological Park, the Smithsonian is a pivotal enterprise for American (and worldwide) learning. A comprehensive history of America is housed in these buildings and stations, comprising over 137 million objects, so taking everything in will be daunting, to say the least.  Having an itinerary, or better yet, a guided tour, is the optimal way of overcoming this formidable institution.  Housing artifacts of all kinds, from the original Star-Spangled Banner to Dorothy’s Slippers, this is an unforgettable experience for any art lover to enjoy. It deserves its place among the 12 best museums in the world.

9. Vatican City, Italy: The Vatican Museums

The Vatican Museums - Italy
The Vatican Museums – Italy

Housing one of the most famous collections in the Museo Pio-Clementio, this museum – compromising twenty-two separate collections collectively known as the “Musei Vaticani” – is the pride of the Vatican and a star in the country of Italy. Boasting entire rooms painted by Raphael, masterpieces of all kinds and centuries of history, this exceptional institution is also home to Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.  Not only this, but they also house all kinds of other ethnic art, including Egyptian and Etruscan.  This is easily one of the most famous and most impressive galleries in the world and absolutely needs to be seen as part of the best museums in the world.

10. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City

As one of the best museums in the world, this collection of over two million items in New York is also one of the broadest.  Featuring all kinds of antiquities from the entire world, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has enough content to establish several museums within itself. Some of the main attractions include the famous engraving of “Adam and Eve,” by Dürer, and many, many more.  In addition, simply being in New York itself provides a unique boon for both the museum and anyone traveling to it: New York is one of the most significant cultural hubs in the world and will always be important to not only western culture but world culture as well.  This is one of the best places to visit in New York, and should be on the top on anyone’s itinerary.

11. Bogotá, Colombia: Gold Museum

Museo del Oro - Bogotá (Colombia)
Gold Museum – Bogotá (Colombia)

This famous museum in Colombia boasts a healthy number of visitors per year at 500,000.  Aptly named, the collections of golden artifacts that this museum houses are a sight to behold and brilliant to witness and represent the goldsmithing work of a variety of cultures.  These pieces, brought together with the likes of other notable pottery, stone, and other archaeological artifacts bear witness to the life of indigenous cultures of the region and share their pre-conquest stories. One of the most famous pieces in the museum, the Muisca golden raft of Pasca represents the origin of the El Dorado myth and is an enduring and visually stunning piece to behold.

12. Xi’an, China: The Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses

The Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors
The Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses – X’Ian (China)

Dating back from the third century BC, this collection of brilliant funerary art is known worldwide for its scope and splendor. Housing in the neighborhood of 8000 individual soldiers, 130 chariots, and 520 horses – with each statute being unique from the others, this impressive collection of ancient statues is certainly an original and breathtaking glimpse of the ancient world. Contrary to their appearance, these statues were originally painted using a variety of techniques, and efforts have been made, at some installations of the traveling pieces, to recreate the original look of the statues.

A global celebration of art in the best museums in the world

No matter where you go in the world, there is likely to be a museum of high cultural relevance nearby waiting to be found.  While it may not be one of the museums listed above, every museum has something of priceless value and is standing ready to tell the stories of our past.  These museums in particular house the most significant works that humanity has created so far, and they are always worth planning a trip for.  In this day of easy satisfaction, the importance of seeing masterworks up close cannot be understated, and making the journey to significant cultural sites like these can be life-ch

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