Best Art Museums
World's Greatest Fine Arts Galleries and Museum Collections.

The first European publicly owned
museum was the Uffizi Gallery in
Florence, home of the Medici family
holdings of Renaissance painting
and sculpture. Following the end
of the dynasty, the artworks stayed
in Florence and formed the first
modern museum. Although open
to visitors by request since the
16th century, it wasn't until 1765
that it was opened to the general
public. Thus the first museum to
open to the public was the British
Museum in London, which opened
its doors six years earlier in 1759.
The BM featured all types of art,
including fine, decorative and
applied. The first specialist
"art museum" was the Hermitage
St. Petersburg, which opened in
1764. The Louvre Museum was
opened some decades later.
See: Art Museums in Europe.

Best Art Museums in the World


United States
South America
Museums of Islamic Art


Austria - Belgium - Czech - Denmark - Britain - France - Germany
Hungary - Italy - Netherlands - Poland - Portugal - Russia/Ukraine
Spain - Sweden - Switzerland - Israel

Art museums are home to the vast
majority of the world's most valuable
paintings, sculptures and artifacts.
For instance, two very famous
works are the High Renaissance
portrait of the Mona Lisa (c.1506)
by Leonardo da Vinci, and the rare
Hellenistic statue the Venus de Milo
(150-100 BCE), both in the Louvre.
Both are priceless, although values
as high as $1 billion have been
mentioned for the Mona Lisa.

For two essays on how to
assess paintings, see:
Art Evaluation: How to Appreciate Art
and How to Appreciate Paintings.

For sculpture, please see:
How to Appreciate Sculpture
19th/20th century sculptors.
How to Appreciate Modern Sculpture.

Typically, museums classify their collections according to epoch or
specific periods or movements.
Common epochs include Prehistoric
art (Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic
eras), Classical Antiquity (eg. Greek,
Etruscan or Roman art), Italian
Renaissance (Florence, Rome, or
Venice), Northern Renaissance
(Flanders, Netherlands, Germany),
Modern art (c.1860 onwards) and
Contemporary art (c.1970-present).
Specific time periods or movements
include Gothic (1100-1350), Baroque
(17th century), Rococo, Neoclassical
(18th century), among many others.

For details of courses on Museum
Studies or aspects of curating and
curatorship, see: Best Art Schools.

Art museums display visual art in
its widest sense. Thus the range of
exhibits on display may include
traditional fine art (oil paintings,
acrylics, bronze/stone sculpture);
contemporary art (eg. assemblage,
collage, installation, video or
photography); decorative art (fine
ceramics like porcelain or majolica,
stained glass, textiles, metalwork,
wood carvings, jewellery); as well
as musical instruments, armour
and weaponry, and much more.

Best Art Museums in Austria (Vienna)

Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna
Founded in 1891, with Imperial Habsburg endowments including the art collections of Ferdinand of Tirol, Emperor Rudolf II and Archduke Leopold Wilhelm, the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna (Viennese Museum of Art History) contains one of the finest collections of Old Master paintings. Highlights of the permanent collection include: Portrait of Cardinal Niccolo Albergati by Jan van Eyck, Adoration of the Trinity by Albrecht Dürer, Madonna of the Meadow by Raphael, Summer by Giuseppe Arcimboldo, Madonna of the Rosary by Caravaggio, The Fur by Peter Paul Rubens, The Artist in his Studio by Johannes Vermeer, portraits of the Spanish royal family by Diego Velazquez, and The Hunters in the Snow by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.

Osterreichische Galerie, Vienna
Permanent collection covers the main European movements/periods (17th-20th century). Highlights include The Kiss by Gustav Klimt, and The Embrace by Egon Schiele.

Best Art Museums in Belgium (Antwerp, Brussels)

Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Antwerp
Founded in 1810, the Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten van Antwerpen contains a collection featuring painting, sculpture and drawing from 1400-2000. Highlights include works by: Jan van Eyck, Jean Fouquet, Roger van der Weyden, Frans Floris de Vriendt, Quinten Metsijs, Joachim Patinir, Marten de Vos, Jan Brueghel, Van Dyck, Frans Hals, Jacob Jordaens, Theodoor Rombouts, Rubens, James Ensor, Henry van de Velde, Pierre Alechinsky, Jacob Smits, Gustave Van de Woestijne and Rik Wouters. For more information, please see: Antwerp Museum of Fine Arts.

For a list of the Top 10 and Top 20
of the top painters & sculptors:
Best Artists of All Time: Top 10.

Many museums were founded or
endowed by generous collectors
or patrons. For the greatest
assemblers of painting & sculpture
see: Art Collectors, Greatest.

For paintings, see:
Greatest Paintings Ever
For sculpture, see:.
Greatest Sculptures Ever.


Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium
This Brussels art institution actually comprises four museums: the Museum of Ancient Art and the Museum of Modern Art, both of which are located in the main building, while the Museum Constantin Meunier and the Antoine Wiertz Museum, which focus on Belgian artists, are housed in different venues in the city. The permanent collection consists of 20,000 drawings, sculptures, and paintings, dating from the 15th century to the present. Highlights include: Flemish paintings by Van der Weyden, Robert Campin (the Master of Flemalle), Pieter Brueghel, Anthony van Dyck, and Jacob Jordaens; Baroque gems by Rubens and The Death of Marat by the Neoclassical French painter Jacques-Louis David.

Best Art Museums in Czech Republic (Prague)

Narodni Galerie, Prague
The Czech National Art museum - whose exhibits are displayed at different locations within the city, the largest being the Veletrzni Palac - includes a wide range of artworks by Czech painters and sculptors, as well as a good collection of Western painting. Highlights of the permanent collection include: The Feast of the Rosary by Albrecht Durer (1471-1528).


Best Art Museums in Denmark (Copenhagen)

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
Contains an important collection of art, based upon the private collection of Carl Jacobsen (1842-1914) the founder of the Carlsberg Breweries. Highlights include numerous Impressionist paintings, the largest assembly of Etruscan antiquities outside Italy, a major collection of bronzes by Edgar Degas, as well as stone and bronze sculpture by Rodin, including a cast of The Thinker.

Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen
Danish National museum opened in 1896, its permanent collection includes national and international works dating from the 12th-century. European Old Master painting is represented by Mantegna, Titian, Tintoretto, Pieter Breugel, Hals, Rembrandt and Rubens, while among the extensive collection of Danish art are works by C.W. Eckersberg, Haral Giersing, Oluf Host, Olaf Rude and Edward Weihe, and the Danish sculptor Carl Bonnesen.

Best Art Museums Britain (Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London)

British Royal Family Art Collection
Housed in several locations including Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, The Queen's Gallery at Buckingham Palace, and Holyroodhouse Palace, and held in trust for the successors of Queen Elizabeth II and the British nation, this billion dollar collection consists of some 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, and 150,000 old master prints, together with tapestries, ceramics, manuscripts and other works. It includes masterpieces by a host of the world's greatest artists. For details, see: British Royal Art Collection.

British Museum
Founded in 1753, the British Museum contains one of the world's greatest collections of antiquities from the Middle East, Egypt, Asia and Africa. Its permanent collection includes some 8 million cultural objects from Prehistoric art onwards. For details, see: British Museum (London).


Courtauld Institute Gallery
Next year is the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Courtauld Institute by the British philanthropist Samuel Courtauld (1876-1947). Its beautiful art collection, one of the best small collections in the world, is now housed at Somerset House in London, and is an absolute must-see, not least because of its spectacular Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. It also features the Lee and Gambier-Perry collection of Old Masters, and the Roger Fry collection of 20th century pictures. Samuel Courtauld himself was strongly influenced by the collecting habits of the County Cork art dealer Sir Hugh Lane (1875-1915), whose collection he saw when it was exhibited at the Tate Gallery in 1917. For details, see: Courtauld Gallery.

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
Opened in 1817, the gallery contains a small but high-quality collection of European art mainly dating from the 1600s and 1700s, including masterpieces by Raphael, Rembrandt, Rubens and Poussin. British painters include: Gainsborough, Hogarth, Sir Edwin Landseer, Thomas Lawrence, Joshua Reynolds, and Constable. During the 1870s, Monet and Pissarro closely studied a number of works at the gallery.

Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Founded in 1816, the art and antiquities museum of Cambridge University is one of the most important fine art collections in England. Its permanent collection features ancient antiquities, Asian art, pottery and glass, furniture, clocks, armour, coins and medals, illuminated manuscripts and rare books. In addition it includes oils by a host of Old Masters and modern artists like Picasso, along with watercolours, drawings, and prints.


National Gallery, London
Established in 1824 and located in Trafalgar Square, the museum holds the British state collection of artworks produced before 1900, and by UK artists born before 1790. The permanent collection of the National Gallery London contains nearly 2,500 paintings, and features a large number of top masterpieces by Old Masters like Jan Van Eyck, Piero della Francesca, Paolo Uccello, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Michelangelo, Titian, Diego Velazquez, Hans Holbein, Vermeer and Van Dyck. British painters represented include Hogarth, Gainsborough, Turner, Stubbs, Joseph Wright of Derby, John Constable, and many others. The National Gallery attracts more than 4.5 million visitors per year, placing it among the world's most popular art museums.

National Portrait Gallery, London
The National Portrait Gallery London features a wide range of historical portrait art of British people (including caricatures and photographs as well as paintings, drawings, sketches and busts), by portraitists such as William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds and Hans Holbein the younger, among many others. Important items include the Chandos portrait, the most celebrated portrait of William Shakespeare. The Gallery organizes the annual BP Portrait Prize competition. In Scotland, portrait art is displayed at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh.

National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh
Opened in 1859, the museum is the national art gallery of Scotland. Masterpieces on display include: Virgin Adoring the Sleeping Christ Child by Sandro Botticelli, Dedham Vale by Constable, The Hon. Mrs Graham by Thomas Gainsborough, The Vision after the Sermon by Paul Gauguin, a series of works by Turner, among many others. For details, see: National Gallery of Scotland.

Saatchi Gallery London
Owned by businessman and philanthropist Charles Saatchi, it is one of Europe's best galleries of contemporary art, and has been a major influence on the development of avant-garde art in Britain. Its exhibitions have featured Minimalism, Young British Artists, postmodernist art as well as the best of Chinese contemporary painting. Artists shown include: Brice Marden, Cy Twombly, Andy Warhol, Sol Lewitt, Frank Stella, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Jeff Koons, Philip Guston, Bruce Nauman, Frank Auerbach, Lucian Freud, Cindy Sherman, Damien Hirst, Rachel Whiteread and others. See: Saatchi Gallery.

Tate Britain London
The first gallery to be established within the Tate network, it opened in 1897 as the National Gallery of British Art. Its collection includes works by Hogarth, William Blake, John Constable, John William Waterhouse, John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, JMW Turner, Francis Bacon, Henry Moore, and others.

Tate Modern
Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, it is Britain's leading museum of international modern art. Its sister gallery of contemporary/avant-garde art is the Tate Liverpool. Other regional venues within the group include the Tate St Ives and the Barbara Hepworth Museum. For details, see: Tate Museums.

Victoria and Albert Museum London (V&A)
The world's largest museum of decorative arts and design, its permanent collection consists of more than 4.5 million objects. Named after Queen Victoria and her husband Prince Albert, it was established in 1852. Featured in its world renowned collections are: glass, ceramics, textiles and tapestries, costumes, silver, metalwork, jewellery, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs. The museum also holds the world's largest assembly of post-classical sculpture: highlights include works by Donatello, Andrea del Verrocchio, Michelangelo, Tilman Riemenschneider, Alessandro Algardi, Benvenuto Cellini, Giambologna, Bernini, Canova, Francois Girardon, Michel Clodion, Jean-Antoine Houdon, Auguste Rodin, and Grinling Gibbons, to name but a few. Its Asian and East Asian collections of pottery and sculpture are among the finest in Europe, while its holdings of Islamic art rank with the Musee du Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. For details, see: Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Named after its founder Sir Andrew Barclay Walker (1824-1893), mayor of Liverpool and wealthy Scottish brewer, and known as "The National Gallery of Northern England", the museum opened in 1877. Its permanent collection contains a fine selection of Italian and Netherlandish paintings, 18th and 19th century British art - notably, a major collection of Victorian painting and Pre-Raphaelite oils, a series of prints and drawings, plus works by artists such as Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Gilbert and George. The Gallery organizes the biennial John Moores Painting Prize.

Wallace Collection, London
Founded in 1897, the museum contains a superb collection of decorative art including gold boxes, Italian maiolica ceramics, glass, bronzes and Limoges enamels, arms and armour, and furniture. It is especially renowned for its collections of Sevres and Meissen porcelain. In addition, it owns a world famous collection of Old Master oil paintings, watercolours and works on paper.

Best Art Museums in France (Dijon, Lille, Paris, Strasbourg)

Musee Magnin, Dijon, France
Contains 1,500 high-quality works by Flemish, Italian and French artists (1600-1900) plus a selection of exquisite drawings.

Palais des Beaux-Arts de Lille
Opened in 1809, the museum contains the second largest art collection in France after the Louvre. Encompassing Antiquities, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Paintings from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, as well as sculpture, the collection features numerous artists from the Low Countries (Flanders, Belgium and the Netherlands) and Northern France including: Van Dyck, Jordaens, Rembrandt, Jean-Baptiste Chardin, Dirk Bouts, Barthel Bruyn, Joos van Cleve, Jacob Cornelisz van Amsterdam, Jean Bellegambe, Jan Sanders van Hemessen, Pieter Boel, Pieter van Avont, Jan Boeckorst, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Theodor Boeyermans, Philippe de Champaigne, Jan Cossiers, Gaspard de Crayer, Pieter Lastman, Johann Liss, Jeremias Mittendorff, Jacques Stella, Theodoor van Thulden, Simon de Vos, Arnould de Vuez, Emanuel de Witte, Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, Amaury Duval, Alfred Agache, Louis Leopold Boilly, and Alphonse Colas.

Pompidou Centre
World renowned for its unique postmodernist architecture - which, according to the New York Times, turned the architecture world upside down - the Georges Pompidou Centre is home to France's national museum of modern and contemporary art and promoter of contemporary art movements. For more details, see: Pompidou Cenre.

Pompidou Centre Branches Out to Metz
The Parisian Pompidou Centre, home to the 65,000-item National Collection of Modern Art, has opened a branch in the city, called the Pompidou Metz. French art authorities hope to replicate the success of the Bilbao branch of New York's Guggenheim museum, which has transformed the fortunes of Bilbao in northern Spain since its opening in 1997. The project is the first stage in an effort to decentralise France's huge art collection: the next stage involves the opening of a branch of the Louvre in Lens, near the Channel Tunnel. Meantime, the Pompidou Metz will be devoted to both modern and contemporary art, from the 20th and 21st-century, presented in a series of rotating art exhibitions.

Louvre Museum Paris
One of the world's oldest, largest and most popular museums, its permanent collection includes over 2 million works of art, covering: Prehistoric artifacts; Antiquities from Egypt, Ancient Greece and Rome; Chinese, Japanese and Asian cultures; Western Art treasures from the Byzantine to the Modern era. Its fine arts collection features a vast range of sculpture, works on paper and painting, including items from the Gothic, Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Realist styles and movements. For details, see: Louvre Museum Paris.

Musee Conde, Chantilly
World famous for its chateau gallery and library. Highlights include Les Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1413) by the Limbourg Brothers, and the Book of Hours of Etienne Chevalier by Jean Fouquet. See Musee Conde, Chantilly.

Musee d'Orsay, Paris
Opened in 1986, the museum concentrates on French art dating from 1848 to 1914, and features painting, sculpture, and photography. It is best-known for its masterpieces of French Impressionism which were previously housed in the Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, prior to the museum's opening in 1986. Collection highlights include: Starry Night Over the Rhone, by Vincent Van Gogh; Bal au moulin de la Galette by Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Dejeuner sur L'Herbe by Edouard Manet, and other Impressionist painters. For details, including collection highlights, see: Musee d'Orsay Paris.


Musee Picasso, Paris
Situated in the Marais district of Paris the Picasso Museum holds more than 3000 works of art by Pablo Picasso, including graphic art, ceramics and paintings, augmented by Picasso's personal art collection of works by other painters, including Degas, Cezanne, Rousseau, Seurat, Giorgio de Chirico and Matisse.

Musee des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg
Permanent collection consists of local art (1681-1871) and other works from the 14th century until 1871. Earlier Old Masters from the local region are displayed in the neighboring Musee de l' oeuvre Notre-Dame. Highlights of the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Strasbourg include works by Italians Giotto di Bondone, Carlo Crivelli, Piero di Cosimo, Cima da Conegliano, Correggio, Guercino, Canaletto; Flemish and Dutch painters like Hans Memling, Gerard David, Maarten van Heemskerck, Pieter de Hooch; and French artists including Philippe de Champaigne, Nicolas de Largillière, Simon Vouet, Philip James de Loutherbourg, and Theodore Chasseriau. For more information about the collection and contact details, see: Strasbourg Museum of Fine Arts.

Best Art Museums in Germany
(Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart)

Gemaldegalerie SMPK Berlin
Now located in the Kulturforum near Potsdamer Platz, the museum, opened in 1830, houses one of the world's foremost collections of European art (13th-18th century). Highlights of the permanent collection - which was initially based on the personal art collection of Frederick the Great - include masterpieces by Lucas Cranach, Albrecht Durer, Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt and Vermeer. For details, see Gemaldegalerie SMPK, Berlin.

Deutsche Guggenheim Berlin
Museum devoted to contemporary art, owned and operated by a partnership between Deutsche Bank and the Samuel R Guggenheim Foundation. Noted for its patronage and exhibitions of emerging and established contemporary artists. For details, see: Guggenheim Berlin.

Neue Nationalgalerie Berlin
Noted for the unique glass architecture of its lobby, designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the museum's underground galleries display an extensive range of modern 20th century art. Movements/periods represented include: Analytical and Synthetic Cubism, Expressionism, Abstract Expressionism, the Bauhaus and Surrealism, and features works by famous painters such as Pablo Picasso, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Joan Miro, Wassily Kandinsky and Barnett Newman.

Wallraf-Richartz-Museum, Cologne
Founded by Ferdinand Franz Wallraf, its collection includes hundreds of European paintings, prints and drawings from the 13th to the 20th century. Its collection of medieval works, including illuminated manuscripts, is especially notable. For details, see: Wallraf-Richartz-Museum.

Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister, Dresden (Old Masters Picture Gallery)
One of ten museums (including Grünes Gewölbe, Kupferstichkabinett and Rüstkammer and others) comprising the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden (State Art Collections), its collection features 700 top paintings from the 15th to the 18th century, exemplifying Renaissance, Baroque and Dutch Realism art. Highlights include: Sistine Madonna by Raphael; The Tribute Money by Titian; Girl Reading a Letter at an Open Window by Vermeer. For more, see: Gemaldegalerie Alte Meister Dresden.

Stadelsches Kunstinstitut und Städtische Galerie, Frankfurt
Founded in 1818 by the Frankfurt banker and merchant Johann Friedrich Städel, the museum's outstanding collection onumbers 2,700 paintings, plus about 100,000 drawings, prints and other works on paper, and over 500 sculptures. Movements represented include Late Gothic, the Italian and Northern Renaissance, Baroque, Dutch Realist portraiture and genre painting, Neoclassicism, European Romanticism, plus a series of German Expressionism paintings by Max Beckmann.

Alte Pinakothek, Munich
Concentrates on European Old Masters to the end of the 19th century. Its permanent collection - spread between the Alte Pinakothek and other Bavarian venues such as the baroque galleries in Neuburg Palace and Schleissheim Palace - consists of several thousand works, including many of the finest masterpieces of Early Italian, Old German, Old Dutch and Flemish paintings. For more details, see: Pinakothek Munich.

Neue Pinakothek, Munich
Part of the trio of galleries in Munich's Kunstareal, it concentrates on European Art of the 19th century onwards.

Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich
Permanent collection now encompasses: the National Collection of Modern and Contemporary Arts, the National Collection of Works on Paper, the National Museum for Design and Applied Arts Collection and the Munich Technical University's Museum of Architecture, and is considered by curators and critics to be one of the leading museums of modern and contemporary art in Europe.

Alte Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Founded in 1843, the collection of the Old State Gallery of Stuttgart is divided into four departments: Old German paintings 1300-1550; Italian paintings 1300-1800; Dutch paintings 1500-1700; German Baroque Art 1600-1700; 19th Century Art, including Romanticism and Impressionism.


Neue Staatsgalerie Stuttgart
Opened in 1984, the New State Gallery of Stuttgart concentrates on 20th century modern art, featuring Expressionism, Cubism, Neo-Plasticism, Dada and Surrealism.

Best Art Museums in Hungary (Budapest)

Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest (Szepmuveszeti Muzeum)
Opened in 1906, the museum concentrates on international art exemplifying all major periods of European art. Its 100,000-item permanent collection - founded on contributions from Buda Castle, the Esterhazy and Zichy collections - is organized around six sections: Egyptian, Greek and Roman Classical Antiquities, Old Sculpture Gallery, Old Master Paintings (13th to 18th centuries), the Modern Collection, and Graphic Art (printmaking and drawings). Highlights include a superb collection of works by El Greco, Velazquez and Goya, as well as German, Netherlandish, Flemish, French and English master artists. Modern artworks exemplify Barbizon landscapes, French Impressionism and sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

Hungarian National Gallery
Housed in Buda Castle, Budapest, Hungary's national art museum focuses on works by Hungarian painters and sculptors. Its permanent collection encompasses: Medieval and renaissance stonework; Gothic wooden statues; Late Gothic altarpieces; Renaissance and Baroque artworks; Modern art, notably 19th and 20th century painting, sculpture and numismatics; Contemporary art, notably by Laszlo Paal and Mihaly Munkacsy.

Best Art Museums in Ireland (Dublin, Limerick)

Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane
Previously known as the 'Municipal Gallery of Modern Art', it features some 2,000 works of art, including Impressionist works by Monet, Degas, Renoir, Corot, Manet, Millet, Puvis de Chavannes, their Irish counterparts Roderic O'Conor, Walter Osborne, Frank O'Meara and John Lavery. Also features an extensive range of sculpture, drawings, and other works on paper, and an exact replica of Francis Bacon's Reece Mews studio. See: Hugh Lane Gallery.

Chester Beatty Library, Dublin
Founded in Dublin in 1950, the Chester Beatty Library is a museum and library housing the fine collection of rare illuminated manuscripts, drawings, miniature paintings, prints and decorative arts from the great cultures of the world, assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). For more details, see Chester Beatty Library.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA), Dublin
IMMA is Ireland's leading national museum for contemporary and abstract art. Its dynamic exhibition program promotes a wide variety of modern arts including works from its own permanent collection. For more information, see: Irish Museum of Modern Art.

National Gallery of Ireland (NGI), Dublin
Founded in 1854, the Ghailearai Naisiunta na hEireann holds the state collection of Irish and European art, including paintings, drawings and sculpture, amounting to more than 14,000 artworks. Includes Old Master paintings (14th century-present), as well as a wide collection of works by Irish artists James Barry, Augustus Nicholas Burke, Gerard Dillon, Paul Henry, Nathaniel Hone the Elder, Mainie Jellett, Sean Keating, Louis le Brocquy, William John Leech, Daniel Maclise, Roderic O'Conor, Sarah Purser and Jack B. Yeats, as well as many other Irish painters and sculptors. For more details, see: National Gallery of Ireland.

National Museum of Ireland (NMI), Dublin
Permanent collection includes masterpieces of Celtic art like the Ardagh Chalice, the Derrynaflan Chalice, the Derrynaflan Paten, the Moylough Belt Shrine, the Petrie Crown, the Tully Lough Cross, the Cross of Cong and the Tara Brooch, as well as the Broighter Hoard. For more Celtic designs, see: National Museum of Ireland.

Trinity College Dublin Library
Collection includes third century BCE Egyptian papyrus scrolls, unique medieval Gospel manuscripts, as well as rare writings and notebooks by authors such as Jonathan Swift and Samuel Beckett. Celebrated masterpieces include its illuminated manuscripts like Book of Kells (c.800),the Book of Durrow (c.670) and the Book of Dimma (c.625). For details, see: Trinity College Dublin Library.

Hunt Museum, Limerick
One of the finest private collections of antiquities and visual art in Ireland, from prehistory to the 20th Century, the collection consists of about 2,000 items from Ireland and overseas. For details, see: Hunt Museum Limerick.

National Self-Portrait Collection of Ireland, Limerick
Comprises over 400 self-portraits by native or resident Irish artists. Portraiture is in all media including watercolour, gouache, acrylics, tempera, oils, crayon, pencil, pastels, bronze, ink on paper, brass and slate, etching, dry-point, screenprinting, glass, porcelain and stone sculpture, sumi ink on paper and ceramics. For details of artists, see: National Self-Portrait Collection Ireland.


Best Art Museums in Italy
(Arezzo, Florence, Milan, Rome, Turin, Venice)

Casa Vasari, Arezzo
Housed in the former home of Giorgio Vasari (the world’s first art historian and author of the 1550 encyclopedia of Renaissance painters and sculptors entitled, The Lives of the Artists) the museum contains a series of fresco decorations by Vasari.

Capitoline Museums, Rome
Comprises a group of archaeological and art Museums in Rome, containing a major collection of antiquities and Italian sculptures. Highlights include the sculpture Medusa by Bernini.

Uffizi Gallery Florence
Contains perhaps the greatest collection of Renaissance art of any museum. Among the huge list of Old Masters represented are: Cimabue, Duccio, Giotto, Simone Martini, Paolo Uccello, Piero della Francesca, Fra Filippo Lippi, Andrea del Verrocchio, Hugo van der Goes, Leonardo da Vinci, Piero di Cosimo, Albrecht Dürer, Michelangelo, Raphael, Titian, Parmigianino, Caravaggio, Rembrandt Van Rijn. Highlights include: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli; and Tondo Doni by Michelangelo. For more information, see: Uffizi Gallery Florence.

Palazzo Pitti (English: Pitti Palace)
A former residence of the King of Italy, it houses several important collections of (mostly Renaissance era) paintings, sculpture, porcelain and historical costumes, notably those in its Palatine Gallery. It is also famous for its Renaissance architecture. For more information, see: Pitti Palace Florence.

Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
The Brera Art Gallery, a product of the cultural program of the Brera Academy, houses a high quality collection of Italian art. Highlights include: San Luca Altarpiece by Andrea Mantegna; and Supper at Emmaus by Caravaggio.

Castello Sforzesco, Milan
The castle houses several of the city's museum and art galleries, including the Pinacoteca del Castello Sforzesco, whose collection features Michelangelo's final sculptural work, the Rondanini Pieta. Other museums within the 15th century building include The Museum of Ancient Art, The Furniture Museum, The Museum of Musical Instruments, the Applied Arts Collection, The Archaeological Museum (Egyptian and Prehistoric), and the Achille Bertarelli Print Collection.

Museo di Capodimonti, Naples
A large Bourbon palace housing the fabulous Farnese art collection, plus works comprising the Neapolitan and general Italian cultural heritage of the city. Oil painters of the Neapolitan School represented include Jusepe de Ribera, Luca Giordano and many others. Other highlights include the Farnese assembly of classical Roman, monumental sculpture, plus an outstanding collection of porcelain and majolica. For details, see: Capodimonte Museum, Naples.

Galleria Borghese Rome
The Borghese Villa gallery holds a significant part of the Borghese collection of Classical Antiquities, paintings, and sculptures, founded by Cardinal Scipione Borghese, the nephew of Pope Paul V (1605–1621). Highlights include paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, Raphael, Peter Paul Rubens and Federico Barocci, as well as numerous important site-specific sculptures by Bernini.

Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome
Features a significant collection of paintings, furniture and sculpture assembled by the Doria, Pamphilj, Landi and Aldobrandini families. Highlight of the collection is Portrait of Innocent X (Cardinal Giovan Battista Pamphilj) by Diego Velazquez. See: Doria Pamphilj Gallery.

Musei Vaticani (Vatican Museums) Rome
Founded by Pope Julius II in 1556, the museums of the Vatican City hold the priceless art treasures assembled over the centuries by the Catholic Church. These include site-specific masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel frescoes "Genesis" and Last Judgement" by Michelangelo, as well as the four Stanze di Raffaello or Raphael Rooms - comprising the Room of the Signature (Segnatura), the Room of Heliodorus, the Room of the Borgo Fire, and the Room of Constantine, painted by Raphael. and his workshop. For more information, see: Vatican Museums.

Museo Egizio, Turin
Contains one of the largest collections of Egyptian antiquities and ancient artifacts outside Egypt. Highlights include three separate editions of the Egyptian Book of the Dead, including the oldest known copy.

Peggy Guggenheim Museum, Venice
Housed in the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, the collection features important works of Cubism, Surrealism and Abstract Expressionism by artists like Picasso, Dali, Magritte, Brancusi and Jackson Pollock, as well as the controversial bronze statue The Angel of the City by Marino Marini. For more information, see: Venice Guggenheim Museum.

Venice Academy Gallery (Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia)
Contains an unrivalled collection of Venetian masterpieces (c.1300-1800) by artists like Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Lorenzo Lotto, Titian, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Tiepolo, Canaletto and Guardi. See: Venice Academy Gallery.


Best Art Museums in The Netherlands
(Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Otterlo)

Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Founded in The Hague in 1800, it was originally known as the National Art Gallery before its move to Amsterdam. Permanent collection holds a series of dazzling masterpieces by Rembrandt (The Night Watch; The Syndics of the Clothmaker's Guild), Jan Vermeer (The Milkmaid; The Little Street), Jan Steen, Jacob van Ruysdael, Frans Hals and other masters of Dutch Realism. In addition the Rijksmuseum has an extensive collection of art from South-East Asia. For more, see: Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.

Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam
Contains the world's largest collection of works by the Dutch Expressionist painter Vincent van Gogh, and his contemporaries. Highlights of the collection at the Van Gogh Museum include: The Potato Eaters, Bedroom in Arles and one of the artist's Sunflowers canvases.

Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague
Opened in 1822, this art museum which specialises in masterpieces from the Dutch Golden Age, has oils by Dutch painters like Jan Vermeer, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen, Paulus Potter and Frans Hals and works of the German painter Hans Holbein the Younger. Highlights include Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer, and Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp by Rembrandt. For more details, see: Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery, The Hague.

Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam
Founded in 1847 by Frans Jacob Otto Boijmans, it is the principal art gallery in Rotterdam. Collection includes works by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Hieronymus Bosch, Rembrandt and Salvador Dali.

Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo
Has the second largest collection of paintings by Van Gogh, as well as a fine collection of modern art. See: Kroller-Muller Museum, Otterlo.

Best Art Museums in Poland (Warsaw, Krakow)

National Museum in Krakow (Muzeum Narodowe Krakowie)
Founded in 1879, its Gallery of Polish Art features 500 works of art by Poland’s leading modern artists, including canvases by Jacek Malczewski, Leon Wyczolkowski, Wlodzimierz Tetmajer and Stanislaw Wyspianski. The Krakow building is part of the National Polish Art Museum, whose other divisions include: Czartoryski Museum, Stanislaw Wyspianski Museum, Emeryk Hutten Czapski Museum, Karol Szymanowski Museum at Villa Atma in Zakopane, Jozef Mehoffer Manor at Krzeslawice, and Gallery of the 19th Century Polish Art in Sukiennice.

Czartoryski Museum, Krakow
Established in 1796 by Princess Izabela Czartoryska, its permanent collection includes the exquisite Lady with an Ermine, by Leonardo da Vinci, which was acquired by Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski in Italy in 1798, along with Raphael's Portrait of a Young Man (later looted by the Nazis). Other highlights include the Polonaise carpet, Greek vases, Roman and Egyptian antiquities, and Limoges enamels.

National Museum, Warsaw
Founded as the "Museum of Fine Arts, Warsaw" in 1862, its current collection of 780,000 items (displayed in different locations in the city, including the Professor Kazimierz Michalowski Faras Gallery) features works by Botticelli, Rubens and Rembrandt, among others. Polish artists represented include: Jan Matejko, Jozef Mehoffer, Jacek Malczewski, Stanislaw Wyspianski, Jozef Chelmonski, Aleksander Gierymski, Henryk Siemiradzki, and many others.

Best Art Museums in Portugal (Lisbon)

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, Lisbon (MNAA)
Established in 1884, the Portugese National Museum of Ancient Art contains the main collection of painting in Portugal, together with sculpture, metalwork, textiles, furniture, drawings, and other decorative art forms from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. Portugese artists represented include: Jorge Afonso, Frei Carlos, Garcia Fernandes, Vasco Fernandes, Cristovao de Figueiredo, Francisco Henriques, Francisco de Holanda, Cristovao Lopes, Gregorio Lopes, Josefa de Obidos, Vieira Portuense, Domingos Sequeira, Morgado de Setubal, Bento Coelho da Silveira, and others.

Best Art Museums in "Russia" (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev)

Hermitage Museum Saint Petersburg
One of the world's largest museums, its permanent collection consists of over 3 million items arranged in six buildings, including the Winter Palace. Highlights of the Hermitage include the Faberge jewellery collection, gold artifacts from Eastern Europe and Western Asia, plus masterpieces of the High Renaissance, the Baroque, Flemish and Venetian art, Rococo, Neoclassicism, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, and Expressionism across all the genres like portraiture, landscape art, genre-painting, still life and history painting. For details, see: Hermitage Museum.

Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow
The brainchild of Ivan Vladimirovich Tsvetaev, this is the largest museum of European fine art in the Russian capital. Opened in 1912, its current collection features works by Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists, including Van Gogh, Gauguin, Picasso, Matisse and Dufrenoy. It wasn't actually named after Pushkin until 1937. For details, see Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts.

The State Tretyakov Gallery: Moscow
Established by Pavel Tretyakov in 1856, the museum holds the world's greatest collections of Russian icons, as well as a very wide collection of pre-Revolutionary Russian art. For details, see: Tretyakov Gallery Moscow.

Museum of Western and Oriental Art, Kiev
Also known as the Bogdan and Varvara Khanenko Museum of Art, and formerly ranked the third most important museum in the Soviet Union after the Hermitage in St Petersburg and the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, the museum's permanent collection (begun 1919) includes Egyptian and Classical antiquities, Byzantine art and icons, Italian Maiolica pottery, Meissen porcelain, Persian Ceramics and Bronze sculpture, Chinese paintings and Chinese pottery, as well as European paintings, sculptures, and etchings.


Best Art Museums in Spain (Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid)

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya, Barcelona (MNAC)
The National Art Museum of Catalonia, opened in 1995, unifies the collections of the former Museu d'Art de Catalunya and the Museu d'Art Modern, and now features Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, as well as 19th and 20th century art. Spanish Catalonian artists represented include: Ramon Casas, Pau Gargallo, Antoni Gaudi, Isidre Nonell, Santiago Rusinol, and many others.

Museu Picasso, Barcelona
The brainchild of Picasso’s lifelong friend, Jamie Sabartes, the museum was opened in 1963 and contains one of the largest collections of artworks (3,500 items) by the 20th century Spanish genius Pablo Picasso. It includes works from the artists "Blue", "Rose", "African" and Cubism periods. The museum hosts numerous symposia, seminars and educational talks on the artist's life and art.

Bilbao Guggenheim
Famous for its hypermodern architectural design, the museum concentrates on contemporary painting, sculpture and modern artforms - installation, video and film. For details, see: Bilbao Guggenheim Museum.

Museo del Prado, Madrid
Contains one of the best collections of European painting (1200-1830) along with more than 7,000 drawings and prints, 2,000 decorative works of art and over 600 works of sculpture. It includes the world's finest collection of Spanish painting with masterpieces by El Greco, Bartolome Esteban Murillo, Jusepe de Ribera, Francisco de Zurbaran, and other Spanish old masters. Highlights include: Las Meninas by Diego Velazquez; and Nude Maja by Francisco de Goya. For more details, see: Prado Museum Madrid.

Reina Sofia, Madrid
Spain's national gallery of 20th century art, it contains important works by the two greatest Spanish painters of the 20th century - Picasso and Dali - including the famous anti-war monochrome picture Guernica. Other artists represented include: Joan Miro, Juan Gris, Antoni Tapies, Eduardo Chillida, and others. For more, see: Reina Sofia Museum Madrid.

Thyssen Museum, Madrid
The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum plugs the gaps in the collections of its nearby sister museums, the Prado and the Reina Sofia. It holds a major collection of trecento and quattrocento Italian paintings by Duccio, and his contemporaries, works of early Flemish/Dutch painters, and Baroque Old Masters. Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism and Cubism styles are also covered.

Best Art Museums in Sweden (Stockholm)

Nationalmuseum Stockholm
Founded in 1792 as the Konglig Museum ("Royal Museum"), it was renamed the Nationalmuseum in 1866. Permanent collection includes 500,000 drawings from the Middle Ages to 1900, as well as porcelain, paintings, sculptures, and modern art.

Best Art Museums in Switzerland (Basel, Zurich)

Kunstmuseum, Basel
The finest public art collection in Switzerland, the museum dates from 1661. Its holdings include the largest collection of paintings by the Holbein family, as well as masterpieces by Konrad Witz, Hans Baldung, Martin Schongauer, Lucas Cranach the Elder and Mathias Grunewald. Its 17th and 18th century collection include Flemish and Dutch works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Jan Brueghel the Elder, plus Dutch Realist still lifes. The 19th century is represented by numerous major Impressionists plus the Swiss artists Arnold Bocklin and Ferdinand Hodler. 20th century art movements covered include Cubism, Expressionism, Constructivism, Dadaism and Surrealism, and American art since 1950. For details, see: Kunstmuseum Basel.

E.G. Bührle Foundation, Zurich
Housed in a Zurich villa, the museum contains Emil Georg Bührle's important collection of European fine art, focusing principally on works of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. Highlights include: Poppies near Vetheuil by Monet; Boy in the Red Vest by Paul Cezanne (stolen Feb 2008); and Blossoming Chestnut Branches by Van Gogh; plus other works by Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Georges Seurat, Alfred Sisley, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Amedeo Modigliani and others.

Best Art Museums in Israel

Israel Museum of Jewish Art, Jerusalem
Originally the Bezalel National Museum, this fine venue holds the world's most comprehensive collection of Ashkenazi, Sephardi and Oriental Jewish art, crafts and artifacts. Permanent collection includes a wide range of artifacts, Judaica, Jewish ritual and ethno-graphical objects, as well as haggadah illuminated manuscripts, painting, collage, ceramics and Jewish craftwork. For details of exhibits, see: Jewish Art Museum.


Greatest Art Museums in America

For the best collections of American art, as well as painting/sculpture from around the world, see Art Museums in America.

Baltimore Museum of Art
Founded in 1914. Permanent collection includes over 90,000 objects. Highlights include the Claribel and Etta Cone Collection featuring works by Matisse, Picasso, Cezanne, Manet, Degas, Gauguin, van Gogh, and Renoir. Other collections include art from Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Ancient Americas, Asia (including rare Chinese bronzes and pottery, Japanese prints, American art, classical mosaics from Antioch, and European painting. Masterpieces include The Thinker (1904) by the sculptor Rodin.

Barnes Foundation
Founded in 1922 by Dr Albert C Barnes (1872-1951), it is one of the greatest but least visited museums of art, specializing in Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings. For more, see: Barnes Foundation.

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (Boston)
A top-class 'compact' museum, best known for its high quality collection of Renaissance paintings. For more, see: Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (MFA)
Founded in 1870. Permanent collection contains 450,000 works of art. Highlights of the MFA's collection include: Egyptian sculptures, and jewellery; the Morse collection of 5,000 pieces of Japanese pottery; works of French Impressionism and Post-Impressionism; 18th and 19th century American art, including works by John Singleton Copley, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent. Other items include Musical instruments, Prints, Drawings, and fine art photography. For details, see: Museum of Fine Arts Boston.

Art Institute of Chicago
Noted for its extensive collection of Old Master paintings, plus Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Cubist works, and some of the finest American art. Highlights include masterpieces by Monet, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, Gustave Caillebotte, Van Gogh and Juan Gris, as well as American Gothic by Grant Wood, and Nighthawks by Edward Hopper. Other highlights include: Egyptian, Greek, and Roman artifacts, an extensive photographic collection, the George F. Harding medieval collection of arms and armour, a series of Pre-Columbian Meso-American ceramic figures, and items of furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and Charles and Ray Eames. For more, see: Art Institute of Chicago.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago
Founded in 1967. Permanent collection (dating from 1974) contains 2,345 objects, and features contemporary artworks by artists from Lee Bontecou to Robert Smithson. Highlights include: Campbell's Soup Cans II (1964) by pop-artist Andy Warhol; Study for a Portrait (1976) by expressionist Francis Bacon; Polychrome and Horizontal Bluebird (1991) by Alexander Calder; In Memory of My Feelings - Frank O'Hara (1995) by Jasper Johns; Cindy (1998) by photorealist portrait painter Chuck Close.

Cincinnati Art Museum
Founded in 1881. Its Romanesque-revival style premises, designed by architect James McLaughlin opened its doors in 1886. Permanent Collection contains some 60,000 works, including European and American paintings and sculpture.

Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA)
Permanent collection consists of over 43,000 works divided into 15 departments including an extensive collection of Chinese art, plus art of the Ancient Americas and Oceania, Classical Antiquity (includes a bronze sculpture believed to be by Praxiteles of Athens), African art, American painting & sculpture, Islamic art, European painting & sculpture, modern European art, drawings, prints, decorative art & design, photography and contemporary art. It features numerous European Old Masters like Caravaggio, El Greco, and Frans Hals, plus American artists like Thomas Eakins, Jackson Pollock, Kiefer, Chuck Close, and Sol LeWitt, among others.

Dallas Museum of Art
Founded in 1909, the Museum's collections include the $20 million Hamon Building collection and the $38 million Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, together with 400 artifacts from ancient Egypt. Exhibits include paintings, sculptures, and works on paper by leading Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and modern artists. Other collections encompass decorative arts; Chinese porcelain; European furniture; Oriental and European carpets; iron, bronze, and silver objects; antique glass; and rare manuscripts. The museum possesses a series of paintings by contemporary German artist, Sigmar Polke.

Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA)
Originally the Detroit Museum of Art, its $1 billion permanent collection consists of over 65,000 items, including art from ancient Greece, Rome, Etruria, and Egypt, as well as a wide variety of Islamic, African and Asian art in all media. Highlights include works by great European Old Masters, modern artists particularly German Expressionists. The DIA also has a very extensive collection of paintings by American artists, like: George Bellows, George Caleb Bingham, Alexander Calder, Mary Cassatt, Dale Chihuly, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Wilmer Dewing, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, Winslow Homer, George Inness, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Revere, John Singer Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, Henry Ossawa Tanner, Louis Comfort Tiffany, Andy Warhol, Andrew Wyeth, and James McNeill Whistler. For more, see: Detroit Institute of Arts.

Harvard Art Museum
This encompasses three centres: the Fogg Art Museum, concentrating on Western Art of the Middle Ages to the present (notably early Renaissance, British pre-Raphaelite, 19th-century Impressionist and post-Impressionist works, and an important collection of Picasso's works); the Busch-Reisinger Museum, specializing in fine art from Central and Northern Europe (notably 20th century German Expressionist painters); and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, which focuses on ancient, Islamic and Asian art (notably archaic Chinese jades and Japanese surimono, as well as drawings, paintings and calligraphy from Iran, India, and Turkey, along with Greek and Roman sculpture).


Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH)
Thanks to its patrons Percy S. Straus, Samuel H. Kress, and Sarah Campbell Blaffer, MFAH's permanent collection consists of 56,000 artworks representing cultures of Europe, Asia, North and South America, and Africa, including Italian Renaissance paintings, French Impressionist works, American art, and post-war sculpture. Together, the museum and the Glassell School of Art showcase over 30 new exhibitions each year. See: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA)
The eighth largest and ninth oldest encyclopedic art museum in the United States, noted for its Chinese bronzes, Japanese Edo period art, JMW Turner watercolours and Neo-Impressionist paintings. For more information, see: Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri
Famous for its large collection of Asian art, including one of the finest holdings of Chinese antique furniture in the country. Collection includes items from Japan, India, Iran, Indonesia, Korea, and Southeast, and South Asia. Its American painting collection features works by Thomas Hart Benton, George Bellows, George Caleb Bingham, Frederic Church, John Singleton Copley, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and John Singer Sargent. In addition, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art holds the entire Hallmark Photographic Collection, covering the history of photography from 1839 to the present, with works by Carleton Watkins, Timothy O'Sullivan, Southworth and Hawes, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Alfred Stieglitz, Dorothea Lange, Harry Callahan, Lee Friedlander, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, and others.

J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Center, Los Angeles
One of two museums in California owned by the J. Paul Getty Trust, it concentrates on Western art from the Middle Ages to the present. Its permanent collection encompasses outstanding antiquities, illuminated manuscripts (the Louis Collection from Aachen), drawings (works by Raphael, Dürer, Hans Baldung, Rubens, Poussin and Watteau), European treasures like Irises by Vincent van Gogh, an outstanding collection of sculpture (works by Cellini, Bernini, Rodin, Miro and Moore), plus decorative art, and photography (works by Man Ray, Walker Evans, Imogene Cunningham, and August Sander). For more, see: J Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.

Getty Villa, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles
This art museum and educational centre is devoted to the study of the civilization, visual arts and culture of Classical Antiquity. Collection includes outstanding examples of Greek, Etruscan and Roman art.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Maintains a collection of more than 100,000 works. Features African culture, Classical Antiquity and German Expressionism, along with modern art in the Ahmanson Building. American, Latin American and pre-Columbian collections are housed in the Art of the Americas Building, while Korean and Chinese collections are in the Hammer Building. The Shin'enkan collection is situated in the Pavilion for Japanese Art. Post-war artworks are displayed in the new Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM). Among the numerous highlights at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art are works by: Constantin Brancusi, Alberto Giacometti, Wassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee, Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Henry Moore, Willem de Kooning, Louise Nevelson, Archipenko, Jean Arp, Edward Kienholz (Back Seat Dodge '38), Richard Serra, and Jeff Koons. For more, see: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky
Named after its founding patrons James Breckenridge Speed and his wife Hattie Speed, the museum opened in 1927, and is located next to the University of Louisville Belknap campus. Inside the Neo-Classical style museum, is a permanent collection of some 12,000 items, including ancient, classical, and modern art from around the globe.

Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA)
A publicly funded fine art museum, the MIA holds a comprehensive permanent collection of roughly 80,000 items, covering 5,000 years of art history. In addition to its outstanding assembly of Asian art, including Chinese architecture, jades, bronzes, and pottery, it encompasses fine art painting, photographs, prints & drawings, textiles, architecture, and decorative arts. Also, there are notable collections of art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, plus the Purcell-Cutts House, an important example of Prairie School architecture.

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York
Part of the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy, it features modern and contemporary art. Permanent collection encompasses Impressionist and Post-Impressionist styles exemplified by Gauguin and van Gogh; works of Cubism, Surrealism, and Constructivism by artists like Picasso, Braque, Matisse, Derain, Miro, Mondrian, and Alexander Rodchenko; more modernist items of abstract expressionism, pop art and contemporary art by Arshile Gorky, Jackson Pollock and Andy Warhol. Also holds older European paintings by William Hogarth, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Gustave Courbet, Honore Daumier, Jacques-Louis David and Delacroix. For more information, see: Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

American Folk Art Museum
Dedicated to traditional folk art, it was initially called the Museum of Early American Folk Arts and focused on traditional arts & crafts of 18th- and 19th-century America, before changing its name in 1966 to the Museum of American Folk Art, and in 2001 to American Folk Art Museum.


Frick Collection, New York
One of the finest bijou art museums in the United States, the Frick Collection houses a permanent collection of outstanding oil paintings by some of the world's greatest Old Masters, along with numerous works of sculpture, porcelain, 18th century French furniture, Limoges enamel, and Oriental carpets. Highlights include - St. John the Evangelist by Piero della Francesca, The Ecstasy of St. Francis by Giovanni Bellini, Portrait of Thomas More by Hans Holbein, The Polish Rider by Rembrandt, The Progress of Love by Jean-Honore Fragonard, Mistress and Maid by Johannes Vermeer.

Guggenheim Museum, New York
Opened in October 1959, the New York Guggenheim building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is one of the the city's most famous architectural landmarks. The Guggenheim's permanent collection includes a world-famous collection of artworks exemplifying Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, early modern, and contemporary art by major artists from Europe and America. For full details, see: Guggenheim Museum New York.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Founded in 1870, the "Met" is one of the largest art museums in the world, with a collection of almost 3 million objects covering almost every era and culture, including the $45 million Madonna and Child by Duccio di Buoninsegna (c.1255-1319). For more information about its exhibits, see: Metropolitan Museum of Art New York.

Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is considered by critics and historians to have one of the finest collections of modern art in the world. Its permanent collection provides a unique overview of modern art from about 1860 onwards and features masterpieces such as Les Demoiselles d'Avignon, by Pablo Picasso; House by the Railroad, by Edward Hopper; The Persistence of Memory, by Salvador Dali; Broadway Boogie Woogie, by Piet Mondrian; One: Number 31, 1950, by Jackson Pollock; Bed. 1955, by Robert Rauschenberg among others. For details, see: Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York.

Whitney Museum of American Art
Established in 1931 by the sculptor and art-collector Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum is dedicated to painting and sculpture by contemporary American artists, and now holds 18,000 items across a wide variety of media. Artists in the Whitney's permanent collection include: Josef Albers, Thomas Hart Benton, Louise Bourgeois, Charles Burchfield, Dan Christensen, Ronald Davis, Stuart Davis, Richard Diebenkorn, Arthur Dove, William Eggleston, Helen Frankenthaler, Arshile Gorky, Grace Hartigan, Marsden Hartley, Robert Henri, Eva Hesse, Hans Hofmann, Edward Hopper, Jasper Johns, Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Ronnie Landfield, John Marin, Robert Motherwell, Louise Nevelson, Barnett Newman, Kenneth Noland, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Man Ray, Morgan Russell, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Andy Warhol, and others. The Whitney's acquisitions policy is assisted by its renowned Annual and Biennial art exhibitions - see Contemporary Art Festivals - which provide an important showcase for lesser known contemporary painters and sculptors. For more, see: Whitney Museum of American Art.

Philadelphia Museum of Art
Founded in 1876 and one of the largest art museums in America, the Museum holds more than 225,000 items featuring paintings, ceramics and sculpture from China, Japan, and India; Italian and Flemish Renaissance artworks; paintings by French Impressionists and Post-Impressionists; sculpture, notably works by Auguste Rodin; armour, tapestry, furniture and other decorative art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art's permanent collection also includes an extensive series of American painting (esp. Thomas Eakins), sculpture, and decorative arts, notably its local 18th and 19th-century furniture, silver, and pottery, and the paintings of Thomas Eakins. Modern art is represented by works by Picasso, Marcel Duchamp, and Constantin Brancusi, as well as American modernists like Cy Twombly, Jasper Johns, and Sol LeWitt, among others. For more, see: Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Phoenix Art Museum (PAM)
Conceived in 1912 by the Phoenix Woman’s Club and Arizona State Fair Committee, and established in 1936, the Phoenix Art Museum is one of the largest art centres in the south-western United States.

Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh
Founded in 1895 by the Pittsburgh-based industrialist and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, the museum has a permanent collection of roughly 35,000 works, featuring European and American paintings, drawings, prints (notably Japanese prints), sculpture, decorative art, architecture, photography (notably the archive of African-American photographer Charles "Teenie" Harris) and installations. The museum's Hall of Architecture features the greatest assembly of plaster casts of architectural masterpieces in the United States, and the third largest in the world. The Carnegie Museum of Art is also known for its fine collection of contemporary art, including works of video and cinematography, and its hosting of the Carnegie International Exhibition.


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
Opened in 1935, the museum stages more than twenty exhibitions and over three hundred educational programs each year. Highlights of its permanent collection include major works by European artists Paul Klee and Marcel Duchamp, American photographer Ansel Adams, and American painters Jackson Pollock and Richard Diebenkorn. One of its most popular recent art shows was its 2008 travelling exhibition of works by Frida Kahlo.

Saint Louis Art Museum
One of the major art centres in America, the museum's permanent collection consists of 30,000 objects encompassing art from Prehistory, Antiquity, Africa, Asia, Islamic civilizations, Oceania, Pre-Columbian art and American Indian cultures, as well as American and European fine arts, plus outstanding examples of modern and contemporary period/movements. Highlights include one of the finest collections of Turkish rugs, Oceanic and Pre-Columbian art; masterpieces by Matisse, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh; an extensive range of works by Max Beckmann; and the largest collection of paintings by George Caleb Bingham.

Toledo Museum of Art
Founded in 1901 by industrialist Edward Drummond Libbey, the museum holds an important collection of glass art, together with a quality collection of Classical, Renaissance, and Japanese artworks. Highlights include The Crowning of Saint Catherine by Peter Paul Rubens, plus paintings by Rembrandt and El Greco, and modern works by Willem de Kooning, Henry Moore, and Sol LeWitt.

National Gallery of Art, Washington DC
Established in 1938 by the United States Congress, with a founding art collection from Andrew W. Mellon, augmented by donations from Lessing J. Rosenwald, Samuel Henry Kress, and Joseph E. Widener, the National Gallery now has one of the finest collections of Western painting and sculpture in the world. The permanent collection includes a notable assembly of Italian Renaissance works by Duccio di Buoninsegna, Fra Angelico, Fillipo Lippi, Botticelli, Giorgione, Leonardo da Vinci, Titian and Raphael. Northern Renaissance artists represented include Van der Weyden, Mathis Grunewald, Albrecht Durer, Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, and Vermeer, while French and Spanish painting is exemplified by Ingres, Delacroix and Goya, among others. For more information about its exhibits, see: National Gallery of Art Washington DC.

National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC
The museum houses a collection of portraits of famous Americans. Highlights include: the famous "Lansdowne" portrait of President George Washington. The gallery also features contemporary portrait art in its "Portraiture Now" series, and sponsors the triennial Outwin Boochever Portrait Competition for contemporary portrait painters.

Phillips Collection
Founded in 1921 by Duncan Phillips (a member of the Jones and Laughlin Steel Company dynasty), the 2500-work collection is housed in the intimate Phillips Memorial Gallery near the Dupont Circle, Washington DC. America's first museum of modern art, its permanent collection features works by El Greco, Chardin, and Goya, as well as a wide list of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist canvases, including Luncheon of the Boating Party by Renoir. American artists like Winslow Homer, James McNeill Whistler, and Abstract Expressionist Mark Rothko are also represented. For more information, see: Phillips Collection of Fine Art.

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC
Part of the Smithsonian Institute, and given its current title in 2000, the museum (along with the National Portrait Gallery) occupies the Donald W. Reynolds Center for American Art and Portraiture. The museum's permanent collection consists of a wide variety of American art, exemplifying most regions and art movements. Among the artists represented are Albert Bierstadt, James Gill, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Jenny Holzer, Edmonia Lewis, Thomas Moran, Georgia O'Keeffe, Nam June Paik, Albert Pinkham Ryder, and John Singer Sargent. The Smithsonian American Art Museum also features the Luce Foundation Center for American Art and the Lunder Conservation Center. See: Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Yale Center For British Art
Founded 1966, the museum contains one of the most extensive collections of British painting and sculpture outside Britain.

Greatest Art Museums in Canada

Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Musee des Beaux-Arts de Montreal)
Founded in 1860, and Canada's oldest art institution, the museum is a member of the International Group of Organizers of Large-scale Exhibitions, also called the Bizot Group, enabling it to exchange works and exhibitions with other renowned museums.

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) (Musee des Beaux-Arts de l'Ontario)
A massive 45,000 square metre venue, the AGO is one of the most spacious art museums in North America. Its permanent collection consists of 68,000 works and includes a huge collection of Canadian art, an important series of African artworks, along with works from the Italian Renaissance, Northern Renaissance, Mannerist, Baroque, Dutch Realist, Expressionist and Impressionist styles and movements. Modern and contemporary art is represented by artists such as Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, and Jenny Holzer. The museum also houses the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, which containsthe most extensive public collection of the artist's works.


Greatest Art Museums in South America

National Museum of Fine Arts, Buenos Aires (MNBA)
Argentina's most important art museum, it contains some 700 major works and more than 10,000 sketches, ceramic items and other artworks. Argentinian highlights include: Cavalry Combat in the Rosas Era, Carlos Morel; Portrait of Santiago Calzadilla by Prilidiano Pueyrredon; The Repose by Eduardo Schiaffino; Grain Field in the Sun by Ramon Silva; Waking the Maiden by Eduardo Sivori Without Bread or Work by Ernesto de la Carcova; Return of the Raider by Angel Della Valle; The Pig Trough by Fernando Fader; The Soup of the Poor by Reynaldo Giudici; The Tiller by Martin Malharro; plus works by modern Argentinian artists like Antonio Berni, Raquel Forner, Alfredo Guttero, Benito Quinquela Martin, Eduardo Sivori, Xul Solar and Lino Enea Spilimbergo. European artists in the collection include: Jan Brueghel the Elder, William-Adolphe Bouguereau, Antoine Bourdelle, Edgar Degas, Paul Klee, Van Gogh and Auguste Rodin.

Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo (MASP)
The Sao Paulo Museum of Art holds one of the finest art collections in the Southern Hemisphere, numbering over 8,000 works. In addition to its collection of Brazilian Art, it includes European paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings, and decorative arts: notably masterpieces of the French and Italian schools, as well as those by Spanish, Portuguese, Flemish, Dutch, English and German artists. It also features smaller collections of art from prehistory, the Ancient-Americas and Classical Antiquity.

Greatest Art Museums in Australia

National Gallery of Australia Canberra
Opened in 1967, it is the most important art museum in Australia. Its permanent collection consists of over 120,000 works of art, encompassing: Australian art; Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art; Works by Australian artists in the European Tradition; Western Art (1400-present); Asian art; Contemporary Art; Photography; Crafts; and Sculpture (Auguste Rodin to Contemporary). Its most famous exhibits include: Haystacks by Claude Monet; The Burghers of Calais (1 of 12 sets) by Auguste Rodin; Blue Poles by Jackson Pollock; Woman V by Willem de Kooning; Elvis, and Electric Chair by Andy Warhol. For more, see: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Founded in 1861, the museum is the oldest public art gallery in Australia and closely linked to the National Gallery of Victoria Art School. Its holdings include fine collections of Old Masters (eg. Bernini, Rembrandt, Rubens, Tiepolo, Tintoretto, Paolo Uccello, and Paolo Veronese) Greek pottery, European ceramics, textiles, fashion, photography, and Australian Aboriginal art. The museum stages numerous exhibitions of artworks from Europe and America, exemplified by its recent Picasso, Caravaggio and Guggenheim shows. For more, see: National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Receives more than 1.2 million visitors annually, making it Australia's second most popular art museum after the National Gallery of Victoria. Established in 1895, its highlights include an extensive collection of art by Queensland artists, such as "Under the Jacaranda" (1903) by R. Godfrey Rivers; plus works by Edwardian expatriates including John Russell, Rupert Bunny and E. Phillips Fox, as well as modernists like Russell Drysdale, Ian Fairweather and William Robinson. For details, see: Queensland Art Gallery (QAG).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

With 1.1 million visitors each year, the AGNSW is Australia's third most popular art museum. Founded in 1871, the strength of its collection is shown by the fact that 44 works of its works were listed in "100 Masterpieces of Australian Painting" (1973 edition). Australian artists in the collection include: John Glover, John Russell, William Piguenit, Sydney Long, George W. Lambert, Fred McCubbin, Tom Roberts, David Davies, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, among many others. It also has an extensive collection of fine art photography. For details, see: Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW).

Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide

Founded in 1881, AGSA receives over 650,000 visitors a year and has a collection of over 35,000 works of art. Its highlights include wide-ranging holdings of Aboriginal works and other Australian art, plus an excellent assembly of works from India, China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia, as well as the only space in Australia dedicated to Islamic art. For more details, please see: Art Gallery of South Australia (AGSA).

Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth

Founded in 1881, AGWA receives around 400,000 visitors per year and has a collection of more than 17,000 items. Its highlights include "Down on His Luck" (1889) by Fred McCubbin; "The Gatekeeper's Wife" (1965) by Russell Drysdale; "Desert Storm" (1966) by Sidney Nolan; "Naked Man with Rat" (1978) by Lucian Freud, among others. See: Art Gallery of Western Australia (AGWA).

• For more about great collections of painting, sculpture and decorative arts, see: Visual Arts Encyclopedia.

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