Photos: World's Most Beautiful Museums

No big city vacation is complete without a visit to a beautiful museum. Our favorite collections combine great locations—like Central Park, central Paris, or the Pacific Coast—with iconic, inspiring works of art.

  1. The Louvre museum, in Paris, was once a fortress, then a palace, before it housed one of the world's most beautiful art collections.

    (Europhotos /
  2. The Louvre features more oh-I-recognize-that pieces of art than any other museum in the world.

    (Erik De Graaf /
  3. Even the architecture at the Louvre is eye-catching and beautiful.

    (Alvaroennes /
  4. The J. Paul Getty collection in Los Angeles is a relative youngster among beautiful museums founded in the 1970s.

    (Franco Ricci /
  5. The Getty combines old-world art with views of the Pacific Ocean.

    (Bambi L. Dingman /
  6. The Getty's design is as inspiring as its art collection.

    (Bambi L. Dingman /
  7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, houses the largest art collection in the U.S.

    (Lee Snider /
  8. The Met's Temple of Dendur is a favorite of visitors.

    (Sean Pavone /
  9. The Great Hall at the Met features fresh flower displays that change with the seasons.

    (Sean Pavone /
  10. The Rijksmuseum, in Amsterdam, reflected in a pool.

    (Cbomers /
  11. The Rijksmusem has an unparalleled collection of Dutch masters' paintings.

  12. Cyclists enjoy a ride past the newly renovated Rijksmuseum.

    (Radu Razvan Gheorghe /
  13. The Hermitage, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was founded by Catherine the Great.

    (Dmitriy Yakovlev /
  14. The Hermitage combines ancient collections with masterpieces of European art.

    (Iakov Filimonov /
  15. The Hermitage occupies several buildings that were once part of the Russian emperors' property.

    (Iakov Filimonov /
  16. The Vatican Museums, in Vatican City, offer one of the most extensive art collections on earth.

    (Toniflap /
  17. Staircases of the Vatican Museums.

    (StockPhotoAstur /
  18. A noteworthy archway in the Vatican Museums.

  19. The Victoria and Albert Museum in the Kensington neighborhood of London.

    (Anthony Shaw /
  20. The Victoria and Albert Museum is a magnet for art and history buffs.

    (Peter Spirer /
  21. London's Victoria and Albert Museum is named for its long-reigning 19th-century queen and her husband, Prince Albert.

    (Peter Spirer /
  22. The British Museum in London boasts a collection drawn from Britain's colonial history.

    (Celso Diniz /
  23. Detail of the facade of the British Museum, with the bas reliefs on its top entrance and its ionic columns.

    (Alexandre Fagundes De Fagundes /
  24. Admission to the British Museum is free!

    (Celso Diniz /
  25. The Art Institute of Chicago's modern wing.

    (Benkrut /
  26. The Art Institute of Chicago is located in Grant Park.

    (Maxym022 /
  27. Another view of the Art Institute of Chicago's imaginatively designed modern wing.

    (Benkrut /
  28. The Guggenheim in New York City has one of the most distinctive designs of any structure in the world.

    (Sean Pavone /
  29. The ceiling of the Guggenheim is worth a neck-craning look up.

    (Rebecca Kennison/Wikimedia)
  30. The Guggenheim is just up the avenue from the Met, part of New York City's famed Museum Mile.

    (Manon Ringuette /
  31. The Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, traces the evolution of art from the 19th century to the present day.

    (Adriano Castelli /
  32. MOMA draws crowds to its retrospective exhibitions, films, and other events.

    (Ericro /
  33. Recent expansions have created more space to show the extensive collection at MOMA.

    (Mircea Nicolescu /
  34. The pyramid of the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC.

    (Jorg Hackemann /
  35. The west building at the National Gallery of Art.

    (Wangkun Jia /
  36. The dramatic facade of the National Gallery's east building.

    (James Blinn/Dreamstime)
  37. The garden at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, draws visitors year-round, but especially in spring.

    (Radu Razvan Gheorghe /
  38. There's always a bustle in Museum Square, with the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to attract the crowds.

    (Natalia Bratslavsky /
  39. The Van Gogh Museum is a memorial to the distinctive artist whose work heavily influenced 20th-century modernism.

    (Van Gogh Museum – Amsterdam/Wikimedia)
  40. The iconic sphinx outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

    (Luciano Pomponi /
  41. Though many treasures of ancient Egypt were taken to far-flung museums the world over, the Egyptian Museum's collection is thorough and captivating.

    (Gérard Ducher/
  42. The Egyptian Museum was founded in 1858.

    (Dennis Jarvis/

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