For all our art and culture buffs out there (and we know there’s a lot of you), here’s something worth celebrating: International Museum Day. Tens of thousands of museums all over the world participate in this special event to raise awareness about the cultural importance of museums. Here, a few of our favorites across the globe.
American Museum of Natural History
In the grand entrance of this New York City landmark, the skeleton of a Barosaurus rears up, as if to protect her young from the attacking Allosaurus. This is your introduction to the museum’s amazing collection of dinosaur bones and other fossils. But if extinct animals aren’t your game, you can catch a reenactment of the Big Bang, trace the evolution of the human species or just stare at the world’s largest sapphire.
The British Museum may be in London, but it will transport you to the Ancient world with its incredible collection of Egyptian, Classical and Mesopotamian antiquities. Marvel at the Rosetta Stone, the mummy of Cleopatra and relics from the Wonders of the Ancient World—all under one roof. (Bonus: it’s free!)
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Expand your concept of art (and architecture) at this mind-bending, post-industrial contemporary art museum in Bilbao, Spain. You’ll know you’ve reached the future when you get a glimpse of the asymmetrical jumble of metal and glass. Inside, the highlight is Richard Serra’s enormous, snaking, spiraling steel sculpture, “The Matter of Time.”
Housed in a spectacular palace overlooking the Neva River in St. Petersburg, the Hermitage started as the private collection of Catherine the Great. Now, the enormous museum contains some three million pieces, from Egyptian antiquities to Italian Renaissance paintings. The palace is something of a masterpiece itself, featuring stunning settings such as the Raphael Loggias gallery.
We’re not saying you should skip the Louvre. But if you want to see what the French do best, don’t bypass this Left-Bank beauty. Housed in a gorgeous Beaux-Arts building (formerly a train station), the Musée d’Orsay contains the world’s best collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces. We can’t get enough of the dreamy paintings by the likes of Degas, Gauguin, Monet and Renoir, not to mention honorary Frenchman, Vincent van Gogh.
Newly reopened after a 10-year renovation, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam will knock your clogs off with its incomparable collection of Dutch masterpieces. The museum contains countless Golden Age paintings by Rembrandt, Rubens, Vermeer and Hals, but the star attraction is Rembrandt’s leviathan, The Night Watch.
National Air & Space Museum
Take off with the Wright brothers or take a tour of the International Space Station without ever leaving the ground in Washington, D.C. With dozens of historic aircraft on display and compelling interactive exhibits, you’ll satisfy your appetite for flying at this popular (and free) Smithsonian museum. If you can’t get enough air and space, head to the Udvar-HazyCenter, the museum’s annex at Dulles Airport.
What are your favorite museums to visit? Tell us in the comments below, or tweet us at @goaheadtours.