A visit to a museum is the perfect opportunity to take a step back in time and learn more about a time long ago, or simply to take some time to appreciate the talents of some of the world’s premier artists. Here is our list of some of the world’s best museums.
Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) – Hobart, Australia
The Museum of Old and New Art, better known as MONA, is a museum and gallery experience truly unlike anything else in the world. MONA makes its mark before you even walk through the door, built into the cliffs around Berridale Peninsula, and offering panoramic views of waterside Hobart. A full size tennis court installation art piece as well as other sculptures will keep you amused while waiting in line. Once inside, MONA is an assault on the senses and you’ll hardly know where to look – the concept of the traditional museum is turned on its head. MONA’s owner David Walsh has described his gallery as a ‘subversive adult Disneyland’. That’s pretty accurate, with exhibitions including a tattooed man, Tim Steiner, who has been sold as a piece of art, and ‘Cloaca’, a machine that produces faeces as it replicates the human digestive system. Amongst the unusual, there’s also works by world-renowned artists including Sidney Nolan and Brett Whiteley.
The Hermitage Museum – St Petersburg, Russia
The Hermitage Museum in Russia’s St Petersburg, is a spectacular sight from the outside, with its distinctive blue-green colour, completed with majestic white and gold columns. The inside of course, is just as special, with an incredible three millions items on show, from every corner of the globe. At the Hermitage, you’ll have the opportunity to see priceless originals by some of the most iconic names in art, including Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Reubens and Raphael. The history of the museum is fascinating – founded by Catherine the Great in 1764, when she purchased 255 paintings from Germany.
The Guggenheim Museum – Bilbao, Spain
Similar to Tasmania’s MONA, the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim in the Spanish city of Bilbao is an architectural marvel. The distinctive titanium-squared structure has been hailed as one of the most celebrated and important buildings in the world. The collection itself focuses on modern and contemporary art from the mid 20th Century to the current time. The influence of Gehry also extends to the exhibition, with works by artists such as Richard Serra and Francesco Clemente, being chosen specifically for the unique design of the Guggenheim Bilbao. Other projects are specially commissioned with the aim of blurring the lines between the museum as an institution and the art itself. One such example is the distinctive Arcos Rojos by Daniel Buren, an outdoor installation piece that sits outside the main building itself, as a distinctive red arch over an adjoining bridge.
British Museum – London, United Kingdom
The British Museum is a must-see on any visit to London, as it is a treasure trove of human history, as well as ancient and modern culture. The British Museum is one of the oldest in the world, dating all the way back to 1753 as the first national public museum. A visit here is the next best thing to actually stepping back in time, with the unparalleled collection of artefacts from ancient cultures in Latin America, Persia, Egypt and Greece, just to name a few. Among the more than seven million items, the most famous is the Rosetta Stone, which effectively allowed for the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to be understood. This was because the same text on the stone was written in three different scripts – Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics, Demotic and Ancient Greek. Continuing the Ancient Egyptian theme, the museum is also home to the largest collection of mummies outside Egypt, including displays containing some of the rare examples when mistakes were made during the mummification process.
Museum of Modern Art – New York City, United States
No list of the world’s greatest museums would be complete without the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, often lauded as the greatest collection of its kind in the world. It is the home of instantly recognisable works of art, including Monet’s Water Lillies. There are also works on display by a virtual who’s-who of world-famous artists, including Salvador Dali, Van Gogh, Matisse, Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, plus many more. As is the case with many of the world’s top museums, the building itself is also spectacular, with glass walkways allowing for viewing from all sides. While you’re in town, be sure to check out the nearby American Museum of Natural History, which also features world-class exhibitions.
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