20 Museums to Visit on International Museums Day

Today (May 18th) is recognized as National Museums Day, according to the International Council of Museums. The website for ICOM states that the day was started to “raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society. The same site notes that more than 120 countries participate in this event with nearly 30,000 museums organizing activities to celebrate.

So how should you celebrate? By visiting a museum of course! There are countless numbers of museums around the world but here are 20 museums that you should visit fi you ever get the chance:

1. Museum of Modern Art – New York City, New York. One of the largest and most influential modern art museums in the world, the MoMA holds paintings, sculptures, photographs, books and more. Additionally, their library includes 300,00 books about artist.

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, New York. As the largest museum in the Western Hemisphere, it’s no surprise that the Met holds more than two million items from around the world. Their collection spans from antiques to present day work and one of their main attraction is “Adam and Eve,” an engraving by Albrecht Dürer. One of their current exhibitions, Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology displays over 170 costumes from the early 20th century to present day. One fun pop culture fact: the steps of the Met were a key setting in the popular television series Gossip Girl.

3. The Louvre – Paris, France. Recorded as the most visited museum in the world, The Louvre has become a cultural icon for its glass pyramid entrance. The Louvre was once a medieval fortress and palace for kings before its new life as a museum. The museum itself holds different collections, but it is best known for being home to the “Venus de Milo,” and Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”


4. The Acropolis Museum – Athens, Greece. You can walk through this museum over a transparent glass floor and get an inside look at archaeological excavation. The exhibits here are shown in open spaces so that visitors can look at every side of an object. The main attraction here is the frieze of the Parthenon.

5. Rijksmuseum – Amsterdam, the Netherlands. With over 900,000 objects, this museum is the largest collection of art in Netherlands history. It displays 17th century paintings, art from the Middle Ages and “The Night Watch” by Rembrandt.

6. The Vatican Museums – Vatican City, Italy. With an impressive twenty-two collections, this museum holds sculptures, medieval and Renaissance paintings and entire rooms painted by Raphael. Oh and a little thing you might have heard about, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo.

7. The British Museum – London, United Kingdom. Another popular attraction, the British Museum is one of the more visited museums around the world and displays historical and art attractions. It is Britain’s largest museum and displays a gallery dedicated to Egyptian antiques, which includes the Rosetta Stone.

8. Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Los Angeles, California. Holding over 150,000 objects from ancient times to present day, this museum has a lot to offer. They display art exhibits, feature films and even host concert series. One of their more popular displays is the “Urban Light” sculpture by Chris Burden.


9. National Museum of Korea – Seoul, Korea. This museum is the most extensive museum in Korea with more than 12,044 pieces on display. With six permanent exhibition sections, there is plenty to see including national treasures like the Pensive Bodhisattva and the Silla Gold Crown.

10. Smithsonian Institution – Washington, D.C. As the world’s largest research and museum complex, it’s nearly impossible to look at everything the Smithsonian has to offer in a lifetime. It provides 19 museums and galleries and the National Zoological Park with over 137 million objects. Their main attractions are the dresses of the First Ladies, the original Star-Spangled Banner and the Wright brothers’ 1903 Flyer.

11. Shanghai Museum – Shanghai, China. With a collection of over 120,00 pieces, this museums collection ranges to include jade, sculptures, furniture and more. It was founded in 1952 and rebuilt in 1996. One of the better-known pieces housed here is a bronze mirror from the Han Dynasty.

12. Centro Cultural Banco do BrasilRio de Janeiro, Brasilia, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte in Brazil. This organization is located in four cities in Brazil and displays things like collections, films and fine art. For example, the museum in Rio has the largest collection of Brazilian money.

13. Tokyo National Museum – Tokyo, Japan. With a comprehensive collection of art work and antiques from both Japan and other Asian countries, this museum is worth visiting. The people who work here research the museum objects and they often become available to scholars.


14. The Museo del Prado – Madrid, Spain. This museum is a product of the Spanish royal family who collected and commissioned art over centuries. It holds paintings by well-known Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Goya. One of the main attractions is “The Three Graces” by Rubens.

15. Israel Museum – Jerusalem, Israel. Founded in 1965, this museum is home to unique pieces like the “Venus Berkekhat Ram” and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Israeli art isn’t the only art to be found here either. European and modern art are on display in the form of paintings.

16. Belvedere – Vienna, Austria. Located within the Belvedere palace, this museum houses the greatest collection of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to present day. Its more notable pieces are the world’s largest collection of Gustav Klimt’s paintings, including “The Kiss.”


17. Australian Centre for the Moving Image – Melbourne, Australia. This state of the art facility was created to preserve, display and promote multi-form content from Australia and worldwide. Recently they displayed the first-ever survey exhibition in Australia of the Chinese artist, Yang Fudong.

18. National Gallery of Ireland – Dublin, Ireland. Founded in 1854, this museum holds the Irish national collection of both Irish and European art. It displays Irish paintings and the well-known Italian Baroque and Dutch masters painting.

19. National Art Museum of China – Beijing, China. This museum has a permanent collection with work from both ancient and contemporary artwork. It’s dedicated to displaying, collecting and researching both modern and contemporary Chinese art.

20. The Uffizi Gallery – Florence, Italy. This museum can be found in central Florence and is home to a collection of paintings. This work includes “Annuciation” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Pope Leo X and Family” by Raphael and “Madonna and Child with Angel” by Filippo Lippi.


Now, I know that you can’t possibly visit all of these in one day or even a lifetime maybe, but try to visit a museum near you and if you get the chance, visit one on your next trip. I have been to the Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (not listed but highly recommended). I loved both and though I prefer installation pieces and sculptures I’m sure any museum you visit will have something you’d enjoy.

Have you been to any of the museums on this list? Which do you plan on eventually visiting?


*Feature photo provided by http://www.theacropolismuseum.gr/en/content/pediments-1


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