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7 Of The Most Beautiful Museums In The World

Hands up if, whenever you’re travelling, you make a beeline for the nearest museum.

We love nothing more than spending a whole afternoon soaking up an art gallery, taking in the centuries of culture and history in a beautiful building. It’s the best way to stay inspired and start your holiday off on the right foot. Plus, all those steps means that you’ll have earned a delicious dinner that evening.

But where are the most beautiful museums in the world? This is by no means a conclusive list, but a primer in some of our favourite ('grammable) and educational posts to pursue next time you're travelling.

1. The Frick, New York

Our favourite kind of museums are the ones that comprise former personal collections in the houses where the owner’s once lived. It’s a way to peek into the lives of the rich and famous from ages past, and to imagine the kind of lives they might have lived.

The Frick in New York is a perfect example of this. First of all, the collection itself is jaw-droppingly good. If you love impressionist art and the ultra-rare work by the Dutch painter Vermeer, you’ll love The Frick. Once owned by the Frick family, the collection is housed in the family’s former Upper East Side Mansion, which takes up an entire New York city block.

At the centre of the gallery is an atrium, a place of peace and quiet, and one of the most beautiful indoor gardens in the world.

2. Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, Rio de Janeiro

All soaring curves and sleek edges, the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum is as beautiful on the outside as it is from the inside. Walk the interiors and you’ll find works by Brazilian artists Nelson Leiner and Lygia Clark but it’s from the exterior that it really shines.

The futuristic building, designed by architect Oscar Neimeyer, seems to curve endlessly as far as the eye can see, a marvel of modern building and a true work of art itself. You might recognise it from advertising campaigns starring Alicia Vikander for Louis Vuitton, which hosted a fashion show there.

3. Musée Picasso, Paris

When the Musée Picasso in Paris’ chic Marais quartier closed for renovations it was only intended to last two years. Instead, the extensive update spanned five years, during which the public grew increasingly frustrated at having one of their best museums barred from them.

But the wait was more than worth it. The new and improved gallery is a soaring, light-filled space that more than does justice to this stellar range of Picasso’s work and, crucially, pieces from his own personal collection of other artists. Queues to enter this museum are always long, so make sure to pre-book online to maximise your time spent inside this beautiful space.

4. The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles

Is there a more stunning museum forecourt than the one before the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) in Los Angeles? Aisles and aisles of street lamps, as far as the eye can see, stretch out before as you walk towards the gallery. In the evening, when the lamps are turned on, it’s a romantic setting that seems like its tailor made for a movie.

Which, of course, it has been. LACMA’s lights have been used to great effect in the Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher movie No Strings Attached, where they form the major part of a very lovely date. In reality, they’re a piece of art in their own right, installed at LACMA in 2008 by sculptor Chris Burden from ‘20s and ‘30s street lamps.

5. The Louvre, Abu Dhabi

At the Louvre Abu Dhabi, everything glitters. Surrounded by a man made canal, the water reflects shimmering shadows onto the white stone of the building. Inside, the domed ceiling comprising more than 7,800 metal stars laid over each other, tapestry style, cast slivers of light upon everyone who walks through it.

It is one of the most ambitious museum buildings in the world, and a sight that never fails to take visitors’ breaths away. And that’s before they even look at the art, which provides a comprehensive overview of ancient history all the way to modern culture. A must-visit.

6. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen

Just under an hour from Copenhagen’s city centre is this mind-blowing modern art gallery set across sprawling grounds nestled on the Danish coastline. The sculpture gardens are some of the best in the world, full of pieces that feel hidden amongst all the Scandinavian fir trees, though it can get a bit nippy if you visit in the middle of winter.

Our suggestion is to go there for a full day in summer, giving you the chance to enjoy Yayoi Kusama’s infinity room, to take in the glass-fronted galleries looking out onto the lakes, to peruse the stellar gift shop and to sit down for a really fantastic buffet lunch at the museum’s cafe.

7. Musee de l’Orangerie, Paris

Paris is the museum capital of the world, so it’s only fitting that two of the city’s best make it onto the list. They’re not the obvious ones: no Louvres or Musee d’Orsays in this story, you’ll notice. But there’s a reason why both of these galleries have been recognised. They use light and space in a way that complements their collections, which are small but no less perfectly formed than others in the capitol.

Yes, Musee de l’Orangerie isn’t a massive gallery. But what it does have is two of Monet’s water lily masterpieces, painted in the round and hung in the same way across two sparse galleries, lit softly with natural light. The result is a whack to the senses, a visceral artistic experience that makes you want to sit down and silently drink it up.

Downstairs, there are other bits and pieces from Cezanne and Manet, among others, but it’s truly those two Monet works upstairs that are worth the price of admission. In a city overrun with beautiful things – even the rubbish bins are lovely in Paris – it’s here that beauty feels quiet and intimate and real. Bon voyage!
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