10 famous art galleries to visit before you die
So many galleries across the world are home to iconic paintings, sculptures and prints from over the ages and contemporary culture.
When you venture on a holiday, you’ll first search for what art galleries and museums are nearby. To get ahead of your planning, you’ll want to know which art galleries are really worth visiting, and what famous artwork belongs where. That’s why we’ve listed the 10 famous art galleries and museums you should visit before you die, to help steer you in the right direction!
1. Victoria and Albert Museum – London, England
One of the greatest art museums has to be the V&A. The beautiful external and internal architecture stands out from the crowd of art galleries found in London. This extraordinary site was first founded in 1852 and has exhibited works from all types of artists ever since.
The V&A is the world’s leading museum of art, design, and performance, which is why so many art enthusiasts flock here each year. You can marvel at the many wonderful Art Nouveau artwork pieces on display, or view John French’s photography if you prefer. Each wall is lined with art produced by talented artists and the experience is as memorable as it is enjoyable.
What’s available at the V&A?
The V&A holds many of Britain’s national collections, including art photographs, fashion, furniture and woodwork, glass, jewellery, computer-generated art and design, British watercolours and drawings. It also presents ceramics, metalwork, portrait miniatures, and sculptures (that were made up to 1914)! Not to mention, the V&A houses the National Art Library.
Find a host of illustrations, like Japanese art prints as well as more contemporary designs. And this museum has quirky collections, including their shoe collection, which is comprised of 2,000 shoes! Each pair spans over 3,000 years of history and shows the different trends over time.
2. The Louvre - Paris, France
The Louvre comes next as one of the top art galleries in the world, found in the centre of Paris. You can see around 35,000 pieces of art here and the Louvre Pyramid skylight sits directly in front, where you can get a tourist picture to show your friends back home.
The Louvre is home to Leonardo da Vinci’s iconic painting, ‘Mona Lisa’, which has been on show here since 1797! So it’s a real spectacle to see this piece of history as you step inside. Not only this but detailed sculptures can be found near and far here.
Spot Gentile Bellini’s the ‘Seated Scribe’ and ‘Venus de Milo’ by Alexandros of Antioch, as well as over 380,000 objects. And remember to get the audio guide experience, to talk you through each piece of art (and its history) as you wander.
3. Boros Collection – Berlin, Germany
The hidden Boros Collection is one of the best galleries for an independent experience because it’s set in an old, converted bunker!
This artistic gem displays around 500 artwork pieces by brilliant artists, including the likes of Damian Hirst, Wolfgang Tillmans, Tobias Rehberger, Olafur Eliasson, John Bock and Manfred Pernice, to name just a few. Private tours are given to admire the artwork inside, so it feels like a really special experience when you visit.
The setting alone is impressive; it was originally used as an air raid shelter (1942) during World War II. And since that time, the bunker was used for everything from a warehouse for textiles to a popular techno club. Now, the collector – Christian Boros (who the gallery is named after) lives in the bunker above the gallery with the rest of his family.
And there’s a reason a picture isn’t available for this art gallery (both here and online) because photographs are prohibited. Why? To keep the experience exclusive, and the artwork a surprise for when you visit.
4. Perrotin - Paris, New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Shanghai and Hong Kong
This excellent art gallery is one of many, with locations dotted across the world for you to visit. Perrotin was founded in 1990 and the first of its kind was built in Paris. All the Perrotin galleries exhibit archives, videos, vintage artwork and more. So heading here for a day filled with art is a truly remarkable experience.
Creative, contemporary art exhibitions are held at Perrotin, so this is a great spot to visit with people that love modern art as much as you do. Discover work by artists like Johan Creten, Wim Delvoye, and Paola Pivi.
5. Metropolitan Museum Of Art - New York City, America
This is one of the most famous art galleries around. It’s a tourist hot spot and the art collections held here are incredible. The outside architecture at the Met is also brilliant, with many TV series (like Gossip Girl) and films (including I Am Legend and The Thomas Crown Affair) featuring or taking place in this setting.
You can view Pablo Picasso’s exquisite oil on canvas painting, ‘Portrait of Gertrude Stein’, (1905). Or if you love Vincent Van Gogh, you can gaze at his 1887 painting ‘Self-Portrait with Straw Hat’. And Claude Monet’s colourful landscape art print, ‘Bridge over a Pond Of Water Lilies’ is also on show here.
6. Uffizi Gallery - Florence, Italy
Uffizi Gallery displays endless collections of paintings from the 14th-century and Renaissance period. It’s one of the top art galleries in the world for avid historians and those of you who love more traditional art.
This amazing art gallery is spread across the first and second floors of the building, once designed by Giorgio Vasari. It’s an excellent spot if you love ancient paintings and sculptures, which fill both floors of this gallery.
Iconic artwork can be found here, which is why it’s such a sought-after gallery amongst art aficionados and everyday art lovers. Study the famous painting by Andrea del Verrocchio and Leonardo da Vinci – ‘The Baptism of Christ’, or admire Titian’s ‘The Venus of Urbino’. There is such variety here and walking around and admiring the interiors is an experience in itself.
7. Tate Modern - London, England
Here, you can explore different buildings belonging to the Tate, from the Natalie Bell Building – where artists project their creativity with new ideas, to the Blavatnik Building, where you’ll find underground tanks, fascinating installations, video collections, and more.
Then there’s the famed Turbine Hall, a large space that welcomes bigger art installations and sculptures. The experience alone here is enough to please, as there’s always something interesting to see, with various workshops available to partake in.
Viewing each unique piece of artwork and collection along the way makes visits there even more special. See artwork from the likes of Agnes Martin, Jenny Holzer, Pablo Picasso, and Charles Ray.
8. The Art Institute Of Chicago - Chicago, Illinois, America
In Grant Park lies The Art Institute of Chicago, which is one of the largest (and oldest) art museums in the U.S. You’ll be excited before you even walk through the door when you spot the huge lion statue that sits outside the entrance!
What’s great about this art gallery is it’s also a place for research, having one of the largest art history and architecture libraries in the entire country. Pretty interesting, right?
Uncover stunning paintings from Impressionist artist, Claude Monet. In fact, this gallery is home to the largest selection (over 30) of Monet’s ‘Haystacks’ collection? This means you can delve deeper into his work as well as other paintings from famous artists that are displayed here.
9. The Egyptian Museum in Cairo (EMC) - Cairo, Egypt
You need to visit the Egyptian Museum in Cairo at least once in your life (if not, more). It’s one of the most famous Eastern art galleries, displaying over 170,000 amazing archaeological artefacts. In fact, it’s one of the oldest archaeological museum in the whole of the Middle East, with the biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities across the globe, so it’s certainly an eye-opener.
Found just northeast of Tahrir Square in Cairo, this arty site displays detailed sculptures, stones, pottery, mummies, coffins, masks and other brilliant artefacts (including food). Everything you find here is a marvellous example of early Egyptian art, being both interesting and authentic. It’s here you can find the incredible ‘Gold Mask of Tutankhamun’ as well as the ‘Statue of Khafra’ and ‘Bust of Akhenaten’. It also hosts temporary exhibitions which change constantly, so no two visits will ever be the same!
10. Prado Museum - Madrid, Spain
Last but not least is the Prado Museum, which is displays stunning artwork and appeals to those of you who love old-school art (and what it represents for the art industry as a whole)!
This artistic jewel has the world’s richest collection of Spanish paintings, as well as Flemish and Italian art pieces. It’s known as the most famous art gallery in Madrid’s Golden Triangle of Art, presenting you with breath-taking interiors and several displays of cutting-edge illustrations.
Find Francisco Goya’s, ‘The Third of May’, (1814) on show here, and peer at El Greco’s ‘The Nobleman with his Hand on his Chest’, (1580). At certain points of the day, you can visit the Prado Museum for free. Just research the best times on the gallery’s website, and start getting inspired.
Uncover more art resources
Well, now you know everything needed to start planning your next art adventure. Simply choose which art gallery you’ll be visiting first, and head there to see a whole section of iconic paintings. Then you can jot down the others, and organise when you’ll be seeing them too.
If this blog inspired you, discover our other lifestyle-related posts over on our blog. Discover how to get into art journaling, the most creative date ideas to surprise the art lover in your life, and much more.