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Louvre, Paris, France © Rainer Mirau, AdobeStock

The 10 most beautiful museums in the world

If you love art and culture and want to make them part of your next trip, you should make a note of these ten museums.

Museums contribute to cultural life in many ways. While some museums present local and regional history or perhaps even specialise in a particular cultural asset, there are also many museums that present collections from all over the world. This means you can discover art, history and culture from all over the world in just one place.

AECOM, a consulting company for infrastructure projects worldwide, recently summarised the world's most famous museums in its own top ten list. The travel portal Urlaubsguru took a closer look at the results and added a few travel tips.

1. The Louvre in Paris

The Louvre, located in the French capital, is still the most popular museum. The former royal palace now boasts around 380,000 works of art. In addition to a large selection of French art, the collection of antiquities with pieces from Greece and Rome is particularly outstanding.

Around ten million visitors flock to the Louvre every year to marvel at the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo and many other breathtaking works of art. This makes the famous museum the most visited in the world and definitely a highlight of any holiday in Paris.

Incidentally, there has been a partnership between Paris and Abu Dhabi since 2017, which has enabled the creation of a second, smaller Louvre in the city on the Persian Gulf.

2. The Chinese National Museum in Beijing

The world's largest museum building is the Chinese National Museum in Beijing. It houses two merged museums in one. This is because the Chinese History Museum and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution merged in 2003. The main focus of the exhibitions is therefore on the political and historical history and development of China. After being remodelled in the 2000s, the building complex was reopened in 2011. Entry to the museum is free of charge.

3. National Air and Space Museum in Washington

In Washington, the National Air and Space Museum is a must-visit for aviation enthusiasts. The museum showcases a vast collection of exhibits about flight, including many original aircraft and detailed information on the history of aviation and space travel in the USA. With this museum, Washington boasts three entries on the list of top museum cities.

Pop culture fans will also find plenty to enjoy. The original model of the Starship Enterprise from Star Trek has been restored and is on display, with its internal lighting periodically turned on. Science fiction enthusiasts can immerse themselves in a room inspired by "2001: A Space Odyssey," capturing the retrofuturistic vibe.

For those who love miniatures, the "Women of NASA" exhibit features famous women as Lego figures. Additionally, there is a display of 1960s toys that teach historical knowledge in a fun and engaging way.

4. Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly known as "The Met," is the largest art museum in the USA, making it a key destination for art and culture in North America. Since its founding in 1872, the comprehensive collection has grown significantly, leading to the relocation of its medieval, religious, and contemporary art sections to separate locations.

WELTWEIT AdobeStock 238539513
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © susanne2688, AdobeStock

At The Met, you can explore different historical periods and enjoy a variety of temporary exhibitions. This is especially great for expats and world travellers who have settled in the "Big Apple." Residents of New York State benefit from a "Pay-what-you-wish" admission policy.

5. Vatican Museums in the Vatican City

The Vatican is a must-visit destination, especially for its incredible Vatican Museums. The museums consist of twelve sections with over 1,300 rooms, so it's impossible to see everything in one visit. It's a good idea to plan ahead and decide which exhibits you want to explore.

Some of the most famous attractions include the painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel and the Pinacoteca, which showcases paintings by Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other renowned artists. A helpful tip: admission is free on the last Sunday of every month.

6. Schanghai Science & Technology Museum in Schanghai

The Shanghai Science and Technology Museum in China is a fascinating place to visit, with its impressive architecture and engaging exhibits. Inside, children will love the interactive displays, and there’s plenty for adults to enjoy too. The exhibitions focus on how nature, humans, and technology interact.

On your way to the museum, you can also explore a well-known market in the subway, which is great for a leisurely stroll and discovering unique items.

7. National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

The National Museum of Natural History, like all Smithsonian museums, is free to enter. However, special exhibits like the Butterfly Pavilion or the 3D dinosaur show have a small additional fee of six dollars.

The museum has a wide range of exhibits on natural science topics, such as marine life, evolutionary biology, minerals, and more. You can also see the famous Hope Diamond. The museum employs 185 scientists, the largest number of scientists in any museum in the world.

To avoid feeling overwhelmed by the museum's size, visit the information desk for advice on which sections to explore based on your interests.

8. British Museum in London

The British Museum started as England's largest library and still holds about 350,000 books today. Its exhibits cover the cultural history of humanity, with a special focus on Greek and Egyptian antiquities.

The museum is also famous for its architecture. The courtyard has a stunning glass-domed roof, making it the largest covered public square in Europe.

9. Tate Modern in London

The Tate Gallery of Modern Art is located on the Thames in a former power station. It is one of the largest museums for contemporary and modern art in the world. The museum features works by artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dalí, as well as avant-garde and American contemporary art.

What sets the Tate Modern apart is its organisation. Instead of grouping artworks by time periods, they are arranged by themes. This helps visitors compare different interpretations of a subject across various eras. The themes are: States of Flux, Idea and Object, Poetry and Dream, and Matter and Gestures.

10. National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. is split into two sections, showcasing art from the Middle Ages to modern times. This division is also reflected in the architecture of its two buildings. The neoclassical West Building, designed to resemble the Roman Pantheon, houses works by artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Monet, and Leonardo da Vinci.

WELTWEIT AdobeStock 135982073National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. © diegograndi, AdobeStock

In contrast, the geometric East Building, with its mirrored and glass facades, displays contemporary art, including pieces by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Picasso, and Matisse. The two buildings are connected by an underground tunnel. Additionally, there is a sculpture garden located behind the East Building.

Stay safe abroad with BDAE

Just as travel destinations vary, so do the needs for protection while traveling. Whether it's an active or relaxing vacation, working abroad, or even permanently emigrating, high-quality health insurance is essential.

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For those who plan to stay abroad for a longer period—or possibly forever—high-quality international health insurance is more important than ever. Ideally, this should also cover pre-existing conditions and ongoing treatment needs. BDAE offers an excellent product with the globally valid long-term travel health insurance EXPAT INFINITY. Those who choose this option enjoy insurance coverage worldwide. The monthly premium is determined by the country of residence, age, and chosen deductible, ensuring a fair contribution structure.

Here you will find an overview of our travel health insurance plans.

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This article is from the 3/2024 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.