Even if you’re not an art aficionado, you’d probably enjoy visiting a famed gallery here and there. So, we went on a search for the top five that experts consider to be the best art museums in the U.S. Each of the contenders offers visitors a chance to see and appreciate some of the most famous works of art in history. So, whether you’re a long-time art enthusiast or just starting to develop an interest, these museums are definitely worth a visit.
If you’re an art collector, you may feel like you have all you need at home. Forty-two percent of Americans say they own a piece of art by an independent artist that they feel is “museum worthy.” A poll of 2,000 adults found the most admired decorative pieces include landscapes and scenery (44 percent) and that nearly four in 10 seek out photography while 35 percent lean toward pieces with sentimental value, painted portraits and vintage posters or signs.
While you may or may not have your own art collection at home, you can always check out a museum. Even a virtual trip can help older people stay mentally and physically healthy, according to a new study. Researchers in Canada say regular online visits reduce a senior’s risk for strokes, heart disease, cognitive decline and early death. This is because such visits make the elderly feel less isolated, which earlier studies have shown can cause a range of health complications. Older people also ended up with a better quality of life and were less frail following the culturally enriching “trips.”
There are countless museums all over the U.S., each with its own unique collection of art and history. Famous pieces often move around the country for more exposure. That means you can visit museums more than once, as each visit will give you a fresh perspective. However, according to experts, the following five stand out as some of the best art museums in the U.S., and maybe even the best in the world! So, you may want to add these to your bucket list, or to your see-again list.
The List: Best Art Museums In The U.S., Per Experts
1. Metropolitan Museum of Art
TripSavvy recommends this New York City gem: “Bordering NYC’s Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the largest museum in the United States, housing more than two million pieces in its permanent collection curated from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”
“You’d be hard-pressed to find any more famous art museums in the USA than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Simply referred to as The Met, this incredibly celebrated museum is so vast that it’s almost impossible to see it all at once. Everything from the displays to the facilities is nothing short of world-class. Collections encompass classical antiques, Ancient Egyptian antiquity, Greek and Roman art, Islamic exhibits, Asian textiles, and iconic clothing. You’ll find 5,000 or so years of history stuffed into the walls of the Met,” Attractions of America raves.
Ranker describes what you’ll find inside this art museum: “Possesses some of the most famous works by Vermeer, Velasquez, Jacques Louis David, Rembrandt, and many others. Also an important collection of Renaissance art, Asian art and porcelains, and a world-renowned collection of musical instruments, costumes and couture from designers such as Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga.”
2. Museum of Modern Art
TimeOut definitely recommends taking the time to visit this museum: “The Museum of Modern Art, along with MoMA PS1 in Queens, attracts millions of visitors annually. Its permanent collection encompasses six curatorial departments: architecture and design, drawings and prints, film, media and performance, painting and sculpture, and photography. Highlights include Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory and masterpieces by Giacometti, Hopper, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol and many others.”
“In the centre of New York City, this huge museum of modern and contemporary art animates the cultural heart of the city. Their collection of international artworks offers an extensive variety of artistic genres. The exhibitions that unite art and politics have made this art museum a true representative of new artistic languages. The richness of this place lies in its aim to share a variety of art, giving a voice to all artistic visions that represent society. In this eclectic place, the artists are united by their differences,” Artsper writes.
3. The Art Institute of Chicago
BestLife thinks you’ll be impressed by this museum: “If you want to see some of the most recognizable pieces of art, there are few places better than The Art Institute of Chicago. Not only is the museum home to some of the world’s most famous paintings (like Grant Wood’s American Gothic and Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist), but it’s also well-known for showcasing modern works. Today, the museum, is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the world.”
Expedia also calls it world-class: “One of the premier art museums in the world, the Art Institute of Chicago is located in Grant Park and features some of the most iconic pieces of art in the world. Masterworks such as Geroges Seurat’s A Saturday on La Grande Jatte and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks are featured here. With over 300,000 pieces in its permanent collection, the Art Institute of Chicago is easily one of the most encyclopedia and impressive museums in the country.”
4. National Gallery of Art
The Art Career Project says this is an obvious pick for the list: “You can’t create one of these lists without the country’s preeminent art museum. It was created by Congress and financier Andrew W. Mellon as a gift to the people of the United States and it has kept giving ever since. Not only is admission free, but the Gallery has one of the world’s most impressive collections of art in all forms.”
“The National Gallery focuses on painting and sculpture, and they do it well. The collection is so large it requires two buildings. The East Building features modern art and traveling exhibitions; the West is all about Renaissance — early 20th century work; the two are connected by a groovy subterranean moving walkway. The NG is understandably proud to hold the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Western Hemisphere, Ginevra de’ Benci. The museum also boasts an entire gallery of Flemish art, as well as pieces by Renoir, Pierre-Auguste Rodin, Mary Cassatt, Eduard Manet, Picasso, El Greco, George Catlin, Botticelli, Alexander Calder, James NcNeill Whistler, John Singer Sargent, and many more,” TOP5.com writes.
5. The Broad
The final museum to make the list is in Los Angeles. Fodors says, “The Broad (rhymes with ‘road’) houses Eli and Edythe Broad’s formerly private collection of more than 2,000 works of modern art from the 1950s to the present day. The building itself is worth viewing; the undulating appearance of over 300 skylights is stunning in its uniqueness. Inside features pieces by Jeff Koons, Roy Liechtenstein, Julie Mehretu, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, and the largest collection of Cindy Sherman works on view worldwide.”
“Making up the top five is The Broad, a contemporary art museum based in downtown LA. Whilst it’s home to over 2,000 works of post-war and contemporary art, what it’s perhaps most well-known for, is its unusual exterior, designed by leading architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which really divides opinions,” Singulart summarizes.
Now that you’ve gone through a cross-country journey of the experts’ recommendations, tell us which art museums you recommend!
- Attractions of America
- The Art Career Project
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Barnes Foundation in Philly.
Detroit Museum of Art.
Cleveland Museum of Art.