Did Your Favorite Museum Make Our Top 10 List?

The Louvre, ParisLouvre MuseumLouve Museum, Paris
The Getty Center in Los Angeles, CalifThe Getty Center - Los AngelesThe Getty Research Center - Los Angeles
NYC: Metropolitan Museum of ArtTemple of Dendur in Metropolitan Museum of ArtMetropolitan Museum of Art Great Hall
Hermitage in Saint-PetersburgAncient art in State Hermitage. Saint PetersburgInterior of State Hermitage. Saint Petersburg
Courtyard of Vatican MuseumStaircases of the Vatican MuseumsArchway in the Vatican Museums
Victoria and Albert Museum in Kensington, LondonVictoria and Albert Museum Art GalleryVictoria and Albert Musuem
The British Museum in LondonBritish Museum London EnglandBritish museum in London
Art Institute of Chicago - the Modern Wing.The Art Institute of Chicago Art Institute of Chicago - the Modern Wing.
Guggenheim Musem, NYCCeiling of the Guggenheim Museum in New York CityThe Guggenheim, New York City
Moma museum, New YorkMuseum of Modern ArtMOMA interior
The National Gallery, Washington DCNational Gallery of Art , Washington DCEast Building of the US National Gallery of Art in Washington DC.
Van Gogh Museum in AmsterdamVan Gogh Museum in AmsterdamVan Gogh Museum – Amsterdam
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
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The Louvre museum, in Paris, was once a fortress, then a palace, before it housed one of the world's most beautiful art collections.

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

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Even the architecture at the Louvre is eye-catching and beautiful.

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

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The Getty combines old-world art with views of the Pacific Ocean.

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The Getty's design is as inspiring as its art collection.

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York City, houses the largest art collection in the U.S.

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The Met's Temple of Dendur is a favorite of visitors.

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The Great Hall at the Met features fresh flower displays that change with the seasons.

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The Hermitage, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was founded by Catherine the Great.

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The Hermitage combines ancient collections with masterpieces of European art.

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The Hermitage occupies several buildings that were once part of the Russian emperors' property.

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The Vatican Museums, in Vatican City, offer one of the most extensive art collections on earth.

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Staircases of the Vatican Museums.

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A noteworthy archway in the Vatican Museums.

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

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The Victoria and Albert Museum is a magnet for art and history buffs.

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

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The British Museum in London boasts a collection drawn from Britain's colonial history.

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Detail of the facade of the British Museum, with the bas reliefs on its top entrance and its ionic columns.

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Admission to the British Museum is free!

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The Art Institute of Chicago's modern wing.

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The Art Institute of Chicago is located in Grant Park.

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Another view of the Art Institute of Chicago's imaginatively designed modern wing.

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

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The ceiling of the Guggenheim is worth a neck-craning look up.

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The Guggenheim is just up the avenue from the Met, part of New York City's famed Museum Mile.

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

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MOMA draws crowds to its retrospective exhibitions, films, and other events.

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Recent expansions have created more space to show the extensive collection at MOMA.

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The pyramid of the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, DC.

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The west building at the National Gallery of Art.

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The dramatic facade of the National Gallery's east building.

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The garden at the Van Gogh Museum, in Amsterdam, draws visitors year-round, but especially in spring.

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There's always a bustle in Museum Square, with the Rijksmuseum and Van Gogh Museum to attract the crowds.

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

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Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

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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.

There's nothing like a relaxing afternoon spent basking in the glory of world-famous paintings and sculptures—not to mention picking up a brag-worthy keepsake in the museum shop. Here, some of our favorite collections of art (check out the photo gallery, above), along with suggestions for must-see masterpieces.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City

Van Gogh, Vermeer, and Pollock in Central Park

The Met's collection of paintings, sculptures, and other visual art has been wowing visitors since 1870, but the museum's beautifully designed galleries and generous views of the changing seasons in Central Park help to foster an environment that's even more than the sum of its already considerable parts. Spend a day, a week, or a month here exploring art from prehistory to the present and you'll never see it all; stroll the exquisite Greek and Roman galleries during (relatively) quiet evening hours; or just plant yourself in front of a massive spattered 20th-century canvas and watch the crowds ebb and flow, some inevitably whispering, "My five-year-old could do that."

Must-see masterpieces: Vincent Van Gogh's Wheatfield with Cypresses, Johannes Vermeer's Young Woman with a Water Pitcher, and Jackson Pollock's Autumn Rhythm. If you're with kids, you'll have trouble pulling them away from the stately knights in the Arms and Armor Collection.

Learn more: metmuseum.org

And while you're in New York, also visit: The Museum of Modern Art and the Guggenheim.

2. LOUVRE

Paris

The most famous smile in the world is just the beginning

A medieval fortress, a sumptuous palace, and finally, since 1793, a museum, the Louvre may be the most historically storied building ever to house an art collection (a collection, we should add, that was the backdrop to the Carters' incredible "Apeshit" video). And what a collection it is, with more oh-I-recognize-that paintings and sculptures than perhaps any other museum. Ideally, you should take a day or two to fully immerse yourself in this collection, but if you're pressed for time (ah, Paris!), take the self-guided, 90-minute Masterpieces tour that touches on the most revered items in the joint.

Must-see masterpieces:Aphrodite (commonly known as Venus de Milo), Leonardo da Vinci's Portrait of Lisa Gherardini (yes, you know it as the Mona Lisa), and Winged Victory of Samothrace.

Learn more: louvre.fr/en

3. MUSEO NACIONAL DEL PRADO

Madrid

Spanish masters, of course—plus treasures from the Netherlands and Italy

Originally intended to house a natural history collection in the late 18th century, the Museo Nacional del Prado became the home of Spain's royal museum of painting and sculpture in 1819. With an exceptional collection of Dutch and Spanish artists (among many other nationalities and styles), the Prado is the place to see the seminal works of the painters Francisco de Goya and Diego Velazquez, who helped bring major works of Italian masters, such as Titian, to Madrid.

Must-see masterpieces: Diego Velazquez's Les Meninas, Hieronymous Bosch's The Garden of Earthly Delights, and Francisco de Goya's The Third of May: The Executions on Principe Pio.

Learn more: museodelprado.es/en

4. RIJKSMUSEUM

Amsterdam

The Netherlands' made-over art mecca

For some art lovers, including the author, nothing matches the power and beauty of the Dutch masters. The Rijksmuseum puts them front and center in its gorgeously renovated—10 years and $500 million in the making—with contemporary lighting and design that has restored the 1885 structure to its 19th-century glory while at the same time gently nudging it into the 21st century.

Must-see masterpieces: Rembrandt van Rijn's The Night Watch, Johannes Vermeer's The Milkmaid, and Jan Steen's The Feast of Saint Nicholas.

Learn more: rijksmuseum.nl/en

And while you're in Amsterdam, also visit: The Van Gogh Museum.

5. HERMITAGE

Saint Petersburg, Russia

Masterpieces of southern Europe, way up north

What if Catherine the Great founded a museum that eventually took over the emperor's palace and grew to be the largest collection of paintings in the world? The result would look a lot like the Hermitage, Russia's preeminent museum. Including major works of antiquity, the Italian Renaissance, and the Impressionist and Modern periods, this is a must-stop for visitors to Saint Petersburg, whether you're there as a port of call or for a longer stay.

Must-see masterpieces: Michelangelo's Crouching Boy, two Madonnas attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, and Antonio Canova's The Three Graces.

Learn more: hermitagemuseum.org

6. VATICAN MUSEUMS

Vatican City

Michelangelo and Raphael in the heart of the Holy See

Sure, each of the beautiful museums on our list boasts a handful of iconic pieces of art. But the Vatican Museums pull out all the stops with an unforgettable ceiling painted by Michelangelo (bring binoculars, but put away your camera—photography is not allowed in the Sistine Chapel), whole rooms dedicated to Raphael, and an overall unrivaled wow factor. As Budget Travel has reported, one way to bypass the crowds is to opt for a Friday evening visit, starting May 3rd.

Must-see masterpieces: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling, the Raphael Rooms, and the Pio Clementino Collection.

Learn more: mv.vatican.va

7. BRITISH MUSEUM

London

The sun never sets on this collection of antiquities

The British Museum first welcomed visitors in 1759 to a building on the site of the present-day museum. While some visitors may find the globe-spanning holdings here an unpleasant reminder of Britain's dominance of its former colonies, there's no denying that the opportunity to come face-to-face with works of art steeped in myth and legend is utterly jaw-dropping.

Must-see masterpieces: The Rosetta Stone, the marble reliefs from the Parthenon, the mummified remains of Cleopatra.

Learn more: britishmuseum.org

And while you're in London, also visit: The Victoria and Albert Museum.

To see Egyptian art in Egypt, visit: Cairo's Egyptian Museum.

8. ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO

Chicago

Spend a Sunday in the park with Georges Seurat—or a late night with Edward Hopper

The second largest art collection in the U.S., after the Met, the Art Institute, located in Grant Park, touches on all major time periods and movements but is especially known for its 19th- and 20th-century holdings, including works by French Impressionists and American modernists.

Must-see masterpieces: Georges Seurat's A Sunday on the Island of La Grande Jatte, Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, and Vincent Van Gogh's Bedroom in Arles.

Learn more: artic.edu

9. THE J. PAUL GETTY MUSEUM

Los Angeles

Old-world wonders overlooking the Pacific Ocean

A relative youngster among the world's most beautiful museums, the Getty was founded in the '70s in a villa in Pacific Palisades. Now with a major building in Los Angeles as its headquarters, an easy trip from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, and other parts of L.A., the Getty offers a collection to rival any in the world in a decidedly unique location in Tinseltown.

Must-see masterpieces: Fra Bartolommeo's Rest on the Flight to Egypt, Titian's Venus and Adonis, and Vincent Van Gogh's Irises.

Learn more: getty.edu/museum

10. NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART

Washington, DC

Rodin and da Vinci on the mall

The National Gallery of Art opened in 1937 and continues to hold its own even with such famous neighbors as the Capitol and the Washington Monument. Its extensive collection of Italian Renaissance masterpieces and works by Impressionists and early 20th-century painters is worth a stop—and it's free.

Must-see masterpieces: Leonardo da Vinci's Ginevra de'Benci (the only da Vinci painting in the U.S.), Johannes Vermeer's A Lady Writing a Letter, and Paul Gaugin's Self Portrait.

Learn more: nga.gov

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