On May 18, the world celebrates International Museum Day. This holiday was established in 1977 and has grown steadily since then. In recent years, thematic events have been held in almost 30,000 museums around the world. The holiday is unique in that most museums offer free admission on this day, so that everyone can see their collections.
We know how difficult it is for artists to find the inspiration and strength to continue creating. That is why we make every effort to help you maintain your creative enthusiasm. This time, we’re offering a virtual tour of the best museums in the world and an exclusive collection from our content team.
The world’s best museums
1. Louvre, Paris
The Louvre is the most visited art museum in the world. In 2018 alone, a record ten million people visited the museum. This popularity is understandable, given the museum’s incredible collection of over 380,000 exhibits divided into nine collections: Ancient East, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Etruria and Rome, Art of Islam, Sculptures, Art objects, Fine Arts, and Graphic Arts. It is hard to imagine witnessing all of these treasures in one day. However, the museum offers online tours that can be viewed without leaving home.
Famous art exhibits: “Mona Lisa” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Liberty Leading the People” by Eugene Delacroix, “The Great Odalisque” by Jean Ingres, “The Nike of Samothrace”, “Venus de Milo”.
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Metropolitan Museum’s collection includes more than 2 million exhibits from 5,000 years of cultural history, including ancient Egyptian monuments to contemporary art. The main building of the museum is the largest art gallery. Visitors can see masterpieces by Italian and German Renaissance masters, as well as paintings by famous French, Spanish, and Dutch artists, including the most comprehensive collection of Rembrandt’s works. The museum’s exhibitions can also be viewed online via the Google Arts & Culture platform.
Famous art exhibits: “Aristotle with a Bust of Homer” by Rembrandt, “Self-Portrait with Straw Hat” by Vincent van Gogh, “The Dance Class” by Edgar Degas, “Autumn Rhythm” by Jackson Pollock.
3. Vatican Museums, Rome
Unbelievable, but the Vatican microstate, located in Rome, has not one museum, but ten at once. Pope Julius II founded this complex of palaces and museums in the early 16th century. Here, you can see the treasures that the Catholic Church has been collecting for centuries: grand art collections, archeological sites, and historical artifacts. Christian relics and masterpieces of the Renaissance occupy an important place in the collection. Some of these amazing exhibits and locations can be seen through a virtual tour, thanks to modern technology.
Famous art exhibits: Raphael Rooms, Sistine Chapel paintings by Sandro Botticelli, Michelangelo, and other masters, tapestries of the Arazzi Gallery, “The Transfiguration” by Raphael, “Laocoön and His Sons”.
4. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
The Rijksmuseum, named the best museum in Europe in 2015, houses more than 8,000 works of art and historical monuments. The exposition spans over 260 halls and features a collection of masterpieces from the Golden Age of Dutch painting, including works by Rembrandt, Jan Vermeer, Frans Hals, and Jan Steen. Every year, over 2.5 million people visit the museum’s galleries to see the best examples of Dutch art. You can also join them through their online platform.
Famous art exhibits: “The Night Watch” and “The Jewish Bride” by Rembrandt, “The Milkmaid” and “Woman Reading a Letter” by Vermeer, “Marriage Portrait of Isaac Massa and Beatrix van der Laen” by Hals, “The Parrot Cage” by Steen.
5. Uffizi Gallery, Florence
The emergence and development of the Uffizi Gallery is associated with the Medici reign. For centuries, the collection has been replenished with the greatest pieces of art from the dynasty. Today it houses masterpieces by Italian masters, such as Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Giotto, Raphael, Titian, and many others. The gallery also presents the most significant collection of self-portraits (over 1600 works). Among foreign artists in Uffizi are the works of Albrecht Dürer, Rubens, Van Dyck, and Rogier van der Weyden. A video tour of the gallery can be viewed on the following website.
Famous art exhibits: “The Birth of Venus” and “Primavera” by Botticelli, “Annunciation” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Venus of Urbino” by Titian, “Madonna of the Goldfinch” and “Self-portrait” by Raphael, “Medusa” by Caravaggio.
6. Musee d’Orsay, Paris
If you are fascinated by twentieth-century French art, especially Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works, the Musée d’Orsay is a must-see. Their collection is a chronological continuation of the Louvre exhibitions. Paintings, sculptures, graphics, furniture, photography, and architecture are among the items on display. The masterpieces of Manet, Renoir, Degas, and Van Gogh attract the most visitors to d’Orsay. The history of the eclectic building is also fascinating: it used to be a train station planned to be demolished. Fortunately, the plan was not realized, so Paris has another popular museum, which can be visited online.
Famous art exhibits: “Starry Night Over the Rhone” by Vincent van Gogh, Van Gogh’s self-portrait, “The Luncheon on the Grass” by Manet, “Dance at Le Moulin de la Galette” by Renoir, “In a Cafe (The Absinthe Drinker)” by Degas, “The Circus” by Seurat.
7. Prado, Madrid
The Prado preserves an impressive collection of works from the XII-XIX century, which was based on the former collection of the royal family. It began to form at a time when Spain was a powerful empire. It was common to order portraits from artists at the royal court; therefore, many works by prominent painters such as Titian, Velazquez, Rubens, El Greco, and Goya have survived. Interestingly, a great contribution to the expansion of the collection was made by Velazquez, who went on a trip to Italy to purchase paintings from local artists. You can familiarize yourself with the exhibits on the museum’s website and feel like you are on a real tour, because audio guide descriptions and explanations accompany all works.
Famous art exhibits: “Las Meninas” by Velazquez, “The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest” by El Greco, “David and Goliath” by Caravaggio, “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Bosch, “Adam and Eve” by Dürer, “The Naked Maja” by Goya.
8. Museum of Contemporary Art (MoMA), New York
MoMA has one of the best collections of contemporary art in the world. It covers painting, sculpture, architecture, photography, film, and the press – more than 150,000 works of art, 22,000 movies, and four million photographs. Not surprisingly, the museum is one of the most visited. It presents the works of masters without whom it is impossible to imagine modern art: Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Auguste Rodin, Rene Magritte, Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, and many others. This link will take you to the MoMA collection.
Famous art exhibits: “The Starry Night” by Vincent van Gogh, “White on White” by Malevich, “The Persistence of Memory” by Dali, “The Girls of Avignon” by Picasso, “Water Lilies” by Monet.
These are just some museums in which the most precious pearls of the art world are kept. They attract millions of visitors who appreciate the beauty of art and want an experience. If museums are a source of inspiration and a way to develop visual taste, plan a trip to one of them in the future. Or, instead of waiting, take an online tour right now. Also, tell us which museum you’d like to tour most in the comments.
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