Dali Theatre and Museum, Figueres
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In the early 1960s, with support from the local mayor, Dalí turned the burnt-out theatre in his home town of Figueres, Catalonia, into a museum for his work. The old theatre hosted Dalí’s first art exhibition, the same site where the Surrealist lived out his final years. He is buried in a crypt at the centre of the museum. The building has the largest collection of works by Dalí from the artist’s personal collection.
The Palace Museum, Beijing
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The Palace Museum is housed in the Indiana Jones sounding Forbidden City, which was the Chinese imperial palace from 1420 to 1911. It’s a complex of 980 buildings over 72 hectares, housing a huge collection of art and artefacts of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Works include ceramics, steles, sculptures, paintings, textiles, enamelware and jade.
J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
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Dedicated to inspiring curiosity and interest in the visual arts, the J. Paul Getty Museum has been collecting works of outstanding quality and historical importance since 1954. It was opened on American industrialist J. Paul Getty’s own property in Pacific Palisades. In 1974, he built a new museum on the property that was a recreation of the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum. The Museum now has two LA locations: the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades and the Getty Centre. It’s funded by the Getty Trust, to which Getty left much of his billion-dollar fortune.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
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On the Upper East Side of Manhattan, the Guggenheim exhibits a collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art. In 1939, Solomon R. Guggenheim conceived of the museum as a place to share his collection of European avant-garde art. It includes works by Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian and Amedeo Modigliani. The museum’s current home is a striking cylindrical building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1959. Its collection is shared with a sister museum in Bilbao, Spain.
Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow
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You may not know about Kelvingrove but you’ve surely heard of the artists whose works reside within its walls. Salvador Dalí’s Christ of Saint John of the Cross is here, joined by work from Impressionists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent van Gogh, plus pieces from The Glasgow School. The gallery opened in 1901.
The Louvre, Paris
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On any given day, an average of more than 20,000 people wander along the 14.5 kilometres of rooms and corridors of the Louvre. Among the 460,000 works, the one almost everyone comes to see is the diminutive Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. But the incredible collection also includes art by Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer and other luminaries. The museum is also rich in ancient Greek, Roman and Etruscan works of art. The landmark was originally built in the late 12th century as a fortress and was converted in 1546 into a royal palace. It became a museum after the French Revolution.
MoMA, New York
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New York’s Museum of Modern Art contains an ever-evolving collection of almost 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art. Photography, film and interactive pieces stand alongside paintings, drawings and prints, all spanning the past 150 years. It’s considered the most influential collection of modern art in the world. Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, Lillie P. Bliss and Mary Quinn Sullivan, who subsequently became known as “the ladies” or “the daring ladies” for their endeavour, founded the museum in 1929.
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Mona (Museum of Old and New Art) is the largest privately funded museum in Australia. Tasmanian millionaire David Walsh overhauled the former Moorilla Museum of Antiquities to the tune of $75 million and filled it with works from his personal collection. It almost singlehandedly turned Hobart into a must-visit Australian destination and its outdoor Mofo and Dark Mofo festivals are attended by thousands. Walsh’s disregard for current vogue or accepted art wisdom has often upset the arts establishment – but MoNA continues to draw crowds.
The National Portrait Gallery, London
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The NPG was the first portrait gallery in the world when it opened in 1896. Its collection includes paintings, photos, sculptures, miniatures, drawings and prints of important historical figures such as William Shakespeare, the Brontë sisters and Mary, Queen of Scots.
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The Netherlands’ largest art museum holds a collection of one million objects dating from the year 1200 onwards. It has more than 2000 pieces from the Dutch Golden Age by artists such as Frans Hals, Vermeer and Rembrandt. The collection has had various homes, including The Hague, the Royal Palace and the Trippenhuis. The building that now houses it was built in 1876 after Pierre Cuypers won a design competition.
The State Hermitage, St Petersburg
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Catherine the Great founded Russia’s grand art and culture museum in 1764. Of its enormous collection of more than three million pieces, only a small fraction are on permanent display in a complex of seven buildings along the Palace Embankment, including the former home of the Russian tsars, the Winter Palace. Its collection comprises European art from the 13th to the 20th centuries a well as decorative art, prehistoric art, Egyptian antiquities and jewellery. Much of the first floor of the Winter Palace is occupied by Russian art from the 11th to 19th centuries.
The Tate Britain, London
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The Tate Britain holds the national collection of British art from 1500 to the present day as well as international modern and contemporary art. Its remit with regard to British art is to represent artists based upon their contribution to British history and development as opposed to nationality alone. Some of its most popular pieces include David Hockney’s A Bigger Splash, John William Waterhouse’s Lady of Shallott and Damien Hirst’s Mother and Child (Divided).
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
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The Met is one of those museums that has to be visited more than once. The sheer enormity of its collection (more than two million pieces) means many visits are required to see it all. Its collection encompasses more than 5000 years of art and works include such diverse objects as a full-scale Egyptian temple, the Temple of Dendur (dating back to 10BC), located in the Sackler wing and a collection of 30,000 historic baseball cards.
The Prado Museum, Madrid
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The Prado Museum is Spain’s national art museum and houses the best collection of Spanish art in the world. It includes works by Francisco de Goya, Diego Velazquez, El Greco, Titian, Peter Paul Rubens, Albrecht Dürer and Caravaggio, among many others. The building itself was designed in 1785 and opened to the public for the first time as a museum in 1819. It will undergo an extension in 2017 under the auspices of architects Norman Foster and Carlos Rubio.
The Uffizi Gallery, Florence
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The rich history of the Uffizi began in 1560 when the Uffizi building was constructed as an office for Florentine magistrates at the behest of Cosimo I de’ Medici. It was used to display works from the impressive Medici collection and became a place where artists gathered. After the demise of the Medici family, the collection remained in Florence and in 1769 it was opened to the public. This is where visitors can see Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, Caravaggio’s Medusa and da Vinci’s Annunciation.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
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Often referred to simply as the “V&A”, this museum is the largest decorative arts and design museum in the world, with a permanent collection of 2.3 million objects. It represents art and design from the cultures of Europe, Africa, Asia and North America and spans 5000 years. Visitors can see such items as clothing, jewellery, sculpture, prints, ceramics and furniture. The V&A was opened by Queen Victoria in 1857 as the South Kensington Museum and renamed for Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, in 1899.
Galleria Borghese, Rome
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In the 17th century, Cardinal Scipione Borghese was a patron of Gian Lorenzo Bernini and collected works by Caravaggio, which he displayed in his Villa Borghese Pinciana. Now Galleria Borghese, it’s open to the public, along with its substantial gardens and parkland. The 20 rooms contain classical antiquities, frescoes, sculptures and paintings, many in the positions intended by Borghese.
Picasso Museum, Paris
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Spanish artist Pablo Picasso’s prodigious output can be seen in museums around the world but this collection is prized for its diversity, showcasing the artist’s many periods. It came into being after a French law decreed that inheritance taxes could be paid with culturally significant artworks instead of money (Picasso moved to Paris at the turn of the 20th century). After the death of Picasso, in 1973, and his wife, Jacqueline Roque, in 1986, their heirs paid inheritance tax with his art. The museum now has more than 5000 works on display and tens of thousands of archive pieces. It has also acquired works by artists Picasso admired, including Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne and Edgar Degas.
Up Next: The World’s Most Fascinating Objects Can Be Found at These Museums
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