Museums are a brilliant excuse to visit new and exciting cities such as Bilbao, Beijing or Brussels. But they also open your mind to new ideas and are a great way to spend a few hours in open-mouthed amazement – especially if the weather isn’t too good outside!
And as all countries have a different story to tell, going to a museum is an ideal way to learn more about their art, history and culture. Plus, many are free, so you can wander around admiring the world’s most valued collections at your own pace, either on your own or with friends and family.
Here at Staysure we’ve compiled a list of some of the most exciting museums and art galleries on the planet to help inspire your next trip. So without further ado, here’s out list of the top 10 museums that are well-worth a visit.
1. The Louvre, Paris, France
The Louvre is a must for art lovers. Originally built as a royal palace, it is officially the world’s most visited museum with 9.3 million visitors in 2013. Located in the heart of Paris, it has over one million works of art with 35,000 of them on display at any one time. Famous masterpieces include the Venus of Milo, the Dying Slave by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa.
Entrance: €12 (£10)
2. The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
The Prado Museum is Madrid’s top cultural attraction and houses one of the world’s finest collections of European art – with dazzling works from Spanish masters such as Goya, El Greco and Velázquez. The 18th century Neo-Classical building opened in 1819 after the Spanish queen at the time visited the Louvre in Paris and was so impressed, she decided to open Spain’s own national museum.
Entrance: €14 (£11)
3. American Museum of Natural History, New York, USA
Founded in 1869, it’s just across the road from Central Park and is comprised of a series of interconnected buildings with 45 permanent exhibition halls. An enormous Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton and the museum’s famous blue whale suspended from the ceiling are just two of the attractions waiting to greet you.
Entrance: $22 (£14)
4. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Holland
The Rijksmuseum is officially the most visited museum in the Netherlands and is said to be dedicated to the “Dutchness of Dutchness”— but more specifically, the arts and history of Amsterdam. Last year it reopened after a decade-long renovation. It displays masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer amongst others. And you also have the Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum in the same square if you fancy a hat trick of culture!
Entrance €17.50 (£14)
5. The Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia
A museum filled to bursting with art and culture, the Hermitage is located in the historical centre of St Petersburg and has been open to the public since 1852. You’ll find eye-brow raising works of art by Picasso, Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt in this ostentatious building. Many consider this to be Russia’s best museum and it’s so large that it’s easy to get lost – so try and keep the windows on your left or right hand side when wandering around so that you can find your way out again!
Entrance: 400 roubles (£5)
6. British Museum, London, UK
The British Museum opened to the public in 1759 and has a vast collection of 8 million works from every single continent. Highlights include the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon sculptures and a collection of mummies from ancient Egypt. Its massive collection was due to an expanding British empire. But some works such as the Elgin Marbles are the subject of controversy – as Greece wants them back. So see them while you can!
7. Art Institute of Chicago, USA
Voted the “Best Museum in the World” by Trip Advisor, this popular Windy City destination was founded in 1879 and has over 300,000 pieces of art. The second largest art museum in the USA (after the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York), it includes: The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh, Stack of Wheat Series by Claude Monet and A Sunday on La Grand Jatte by Georges Seurat.
Entrance: $23 (£15)
8. Museum of the City of Brussels, Belgium
The museum is dedicated to the art and history of Brussels and it’s said that a few hours inside will unlock the city’s secrets to any foreigners. Situated in the historic heart of Brussels opposite the Town Hall, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As well as sculptures, tapestries, altarpieces, engravings and maps of how the city grew over the centuries, you’ll also get to see costumes for the city’s famous mascot Manneken Pis, also known as the “Peeing Boy”.
Entrance: Between €1.50 – €4
(£1.20 – £3.20)
9. Guggenheim, Bilbao, Spain
This breath-taking building can be found sitting by the side of the river in this Basque city in Northern Spain. Famous for its modern and contemporary art, the shell-shaped Guggenheim opened in 1997 and has been drawing hundreds of thousands of art-loving tourists ever since. Inside you’ll find walkways suspended from the ceiling, which link 19 galleries over 3 floors – many are as equally impressed by the building as they are the exhibitions!
Entrance: €11 (£9)
10. National Museum of China, Beijing
This grand museum is found in Tiananmen Square and opened in 2003 after the merging of two separate museums. It covers Chinese history from 1.7 million years ago to the abdication of the last emperor in 1912. Boasting a total of 48 exhibition halls and over 1 million precious artefacts, it features relics from the first Anglo-Chinese War, Buddhist statues and the world’s heaviest piece of ancient bronze wear – weighing in at 832.84 kg!