Virgin vacations put out this list a while ago of the best 16 museums in the world.
I believe this list is a little American-centric, but I decided to put it to the test and see what real travelers thought about each one anyway.
1. Musee du Louvre, Paris, France
Dan of Dan-and-dee with an elaborate tomb in the Louvre
To be perfectly honest, we both enjoyed the outside of the Museum (ie the architecture of the buildings), more than the inside, the pyramids alone were spectacular and a lot less people to move between for a photo, or even just a glimpse! – Dan-and-dee
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA
Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jimandlaura
Took the subway uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow, what a place. We loved it and we only scratched the surface. Particularly liked the modern art (Hirst, Pollock) and the ancient Japanese silk prints. You could spend a week there and still not see everything. Great cafe too! – Jimandlaura
3. Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome, Italy
The ceiling in the Vatican Museums
The museum was extended in 2000 for the millennial year celebration of Christ’s birth, and the renovations included a large spiral ramp leading to the entrance to the museums. We had fun by challenging the group to run up the spiral ramp while they took the escalator.
We saw a number of interesting sculptures while waiting in a courtyard to enter the first of the museums. One was of a pine cone from 1 AD or 2 AD, that was a symbol of fertility and was first made as a Roman fountain. In the courtyard, we also learned about the story and significance of the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is used as the place where the cardinals choose the next Pope. It was named after Pope Sixtus IV.
As we walked through various parts of the museums, I was surprised to see some art from Ancient Egypt and Greece, even including two marble sculptures of Diana the fertility goddess and Diana as the goddess of the hunt. Worship of Diana was notorious in the New Testament. It seemed to me as though the presence of the artwork indicated the idea that the church acknowledged and saw itself as the fulfillment of many earlier traditions and religious practices. My interpretation could, however, be incorrect.
I was awestruck by the tapestries depicting various events in Christ’s life. The tapestries were housed in a darkened room and one of them gave the impression that Christ’s eyes were following you as you walked past. Another interesting room was a room of ancient maps. – Woodsfamily
4. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy
Ruthperelstein on the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery
Tuesday we visit the Uffizi Gallery. This is another place where you have to have a reservation. It does make it less stressful and you do beat the lines, which are long and full of grumpy tourists.
The Uffizi Gallery has the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is beautiful. The time periods this museum are not my personal favorites but again the sculpture knocks us out.
Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). There is also a corridor that extends for the end of the building along the Arno river and through the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace that is no longer used by was the way the elite could travel without stepping a foot into the dangerous streets. – Ruthperelstein
5. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
Juliana of Paul-jules at the Prado Museum in Madrid
We got to our hotel, and headed out to the Prado museum immediately. It is one of the best museums we have seen on the trip. It has a large number of El Greco paintings. He has become one of our favourite artists. It also has many by Raphael, Reubens, and Durer. – Paul-jules
6. The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
Fishtails04 found the State Hermitage overwhelming
The State Hermitage, located in the former Winter Palace of the tsars, in St. Petersburg, houses one of the finest art collections in the world, with more than three million pieces – it seems that Catherine the Great liked big numbers in more than just her lovers. And that’s the problem really: it’s estimated that to walk through each of the galleries would total about twenty-five kilometres – i.e. it’s just too big to cover in an afternoon. It’s also too excessive in style for me to really enjoy: all busily decorated floors, marble pillars, highly decorated ceilings, heavy furniture, dark portraits of gloomy monarchs, imposing sculptures, huge crustal chandeliers, and gold and gilt opulence. As the guidebooks says, “One must visit the Hermitage on a visit to St Petersburg…”, and it was worth it to gain an appreciation of its scale, but I felt something of a failure when, after an hour and a half, I’d had enough and, with that sense of panic I experience in large department stores when I can’t see a way out, started frantically searching for an exit. – Fishtails04
7. J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA
Inside the J. Paul Getty Center with Jeznkez
At length the road wound up through the hills and we arrived at the J. Paul Getty Centre, which is a gigantic art museum, housed in a purpose built series of monoliths amid the verdant grounds. The museum is perched on a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, looking over L.A. and out to sea.
We had nowhere near enough time to do justice to the whole four buildings, each of which contains different styles of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, but had a good look around and enjoyed the peaceful and exquisitely conceived gardens, interwoven with sculptures and water features. The whole complex is constructed from Travertine (1.2 million square feet of it) which is a fossilized, textured stone that reflects the bright Californian sunlight, imparting the whole place with a luminous, ethereal glow. Overall an incredibly successful public space and a great example of modern architectural design and realization. And all free of charge! – Jeznkez
8. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France
Londonpenguin at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris
Our long walk ended up at the Musee d’Orsay. I headed straight for the Impressionists upstairs, and leisurely made my way back down. Happened upon the Salle des Fetes, which is a glorious burst of gold, crystal and mirrors. I also found the Art Nouveau rooms and was really enjoying them when the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the museum would be closing in 15 minutes, which was half an hour earlier than we had been told. Slightly disappointing, but it was definitely worth going back to. – Londonpenguin
9. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA
The Enemans standing in front of a fountain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC
The style of the buildings downtown is such a far cry from anything else you’ll see. There were times when I thought even the Greek Gods would be impressed. I was surprised to see how brand new the art gallery looked, despite having been open for sixty years. The marble floors were pristine and the walls were un-scuffed as if it had been built last week. I was particularly anxious about the Ansel Adams beach photography gallery on display for a limited time. – Jeneman
10. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France
Mamakarpus at the Centre Pompidou in Paris
I really wanted to see the Pompidou Centre, so we went looking for that. It took us forever to find it, it was so annoying. We kept looking at the map backwards, so we were wandering around forever. Oh well. We eventually found it and it was pretty cool. It’s a modern art museum. I honestly didn’t care about going in to see the art, but I wanted to see the building and the fountains right beside it. So I was happy. – Mamakarpus
11. Tate Modern, London, England
Laohallo's friend at the Tate Modern in London
After borough markets we headed over to tate modern which is a modern art museum. Im blaming Tammy for picking this tourist attraction. Lets just say the art is very strange and modern. It was a good laugh though. – Laohallo
12. Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA
Julesjb found this statue in MoMA's sculpture garden
After that I then went across to Manhattan to see the MOMA (Museum Of Modern Art) which was amazing. All my favourites were there including Cezanne, Magritte, Picasso and Dali. I also saw a few Jackson Pollack’s which I thought were very impressive in terms of scale and use of paint. – Julesjb
13. British Museum, London, England
Harmony at the British Museum in London
It was spectacular and we could not believe the size and the amount of artifacts, especially since it was free to get in! We saw the Rosetta Stone, a massive Easter Island head, many beautiful Greco Roman sculptures, and much much more. – Mikeandharmony
14. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, USA
Ineednewears found this to be one quiet place in the Guggenheim museum
Who would have thought that on a windy, rainy, cold Friday evening dozens of people were willing to queue underneath the semi-permeable dripping roof of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in their damp clothes and soaked shoes just to get in for close to free (for some, pay-what-you-can comes frighteningly close to nothing). I pictured a Friday night at the “Gugg” along the lines of a Friday night at the library or much like a sheep pasture with but a few bodies scattered around in the far corners, but what I got involved much more arm-against-arm rubbing and additional queuing as the spiral-shaped interior, seven-levels high, filled up.
I complained not about the crowds but about the barriers along the spiraling platform being too low, and constantly feared toppling over to free fall and be torn open by one or more of the suspended cars on my way down. – Ineednewears
15. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA
Toddfamily had a "Rocky moment" at the Philadelphia Art Museum
The next day we spent the morning on a bus tour of the city and ended up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We really enjoyed this museum too and were once again lucky to join a tour with a very knowledgeable guide. We met Mark at the front of the museum afterwards and had a little Rocky moment on the front steps – those of you who know the first Rocky film will know this scene! – Toddfamily
16. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA
Traveled loved the Chicago Art Institute
We took the Metro to Union, then walked down Adams to the Art Institute. We saw more exhibits in one day than I recall seeing on any of my previous visits. We started off in the European area, then lunched at the cafe, which was surprisingly satisfying, and finally we took a couple more hours to walk through the American and photography exhibits. One my favorite works of the day was one that probably does not receive the attention it deserves, located in the corner of the same room as “American Gothic” by Hopper, called “Nightlife” by Motley. But of course, I also loved almost everything I saw there. – Traveled