From the Louvre to the Metropolitan Museum of Art via the Vatican Museums: an overview of the most popular museums in the world. In the context of a pandemic, don’t forget to contact customer service to find out about the rules and also to reserve your place. Some places may be closed, but virtual tours or videos are available.
This must-see Paris landmark rose to the top spot of the world’s most popular museums in 2017 in the Theme Index and Museum Index , which ranks museums around the world based on their popularity. In 2018, the museum had welcomed more than ten million visitors in one year, a record in the history of museums.
The Louvre, the largest museum in the world, houses 380,000 works of art. It would be humanly impossible to see everything in a single visit… or even in 100! Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa is certainly one of the biggest attractions of this ancient castle.
National Museum of China
Located in Beijing, the National Museum of China was the most popular museum in 2016 before falling to second place in 2017. With eight million visitors, the museum logically chose to ditch paper tickets and visitors no now have more to wait in a line that could stretch nearly two kilometers long before enjoying the exhibits.
Run by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China, the museum’s mission is to promote the arts and history of this country.
National Air and Space Museum
Located in Washington, DC, the National Air and Space Museum is part of the Smithsonian. Founded in 1946 as the National Air Museum, its first major collectible was the biplane used for the Wright brothers’ successful first flight in 1903.
The museum has been under renovation for several years; although it remains open year-round, some of its larger artifacts have temporarily moved to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, located in Chantilly near Dulles Airport.
Traveling without moving is possible! Do not hesitate to try one of these virtual excursions to do from your home.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Known around the world simply as the “Met”, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is one of the largest and finest art museums in the world, with a collection that includes more than two million works of art spanning over 5,000 years of history.
The works come from all over the world, such as the Temple of Dendur, which dates from the year 10 BC. J.-C., or the Portrait of Madame X by John Singer Sargent.
The museum is one of the must-see places in New York!
Located in Vatican City, the Vatican Museums display works of art collected by popes over the centuries. Here you will find masterpieces of painting, sculpture and many other works of art. Notably, the Sistine Chapel, the Niccoline Chapel, Raphael’s Rooms and Loggias and the Borgia Apartment.
The Vatican’s double helix staircase is one of the most vertiginous staircases in the world.
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
Opened in 2001, the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum is dedicated to popularizing science with the theme of “harmony of nature, man and technology”.
It offers 13 permanent exhibition rooms and four cinemas dedicated to science. Some of its most notable attractions include the world of robots, space travel, the information age, and the animal world.
National Museum of Natural History
Located in Washington, this Smithsonian museum houses more than 126 million specimens and cultural objects, including 30 million insects and 400,000 photographs. One of its main attractions is the Hope Diamond, a legendary 45-carat blue diamond that once belonged to King Louis XIV.
Founded in 1753, the British Museum was the world’s first national public museum. Located in the Bloomsbury district of London, it houses many works of art, including the famous Rosetta Stone. Its neo-Greek facade, with its 44 columns of the Ionic order, was built to evoke the temple of Athena Polias at Priene.
Forty million visitors have already passed through the doors of this London museum, inaugurated in 2000. The Tate houses masterpieces of international modern art, including The Three Dancers by Pablo Picasso and Cannibalism of Autumn by Salvador Dali.
National Gallery of Art
This museum located in Washington, DC, has more than 130,000 works tracing the development of Western art. It also houses Leonardo da Vinci’s only painting in America, Ginevra de’ Benci , which is displayed in the West Building.
Located in Trafalgar Square in central London, the National Gallery features one of the largest collections of Western European paintings in the world. Dating back to 1824, it houses more than 2,300 paintings, including notable works by artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Van Gogh, Botticelli, Rembrandt and Monet.
American Museum of Natural History
Founded in 1869, the American Museum of Natural History is located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in Theodore Roosevelt Park, directly across from Central Park.
This museum explores human cultures, the natural world and the universe, with more than 33 million specimens of plants, animals, fossils, minerals, rocks, meteorites, remains and human cultural objects, of which only a small fraction can be exposed at a time.
National Palace Museum
Located in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, the National Palace Museum houses some of the finest collections of Chinese art, including the famous jadeite cabbage dating from the Qing Dynasty.
The National Palace Museum and the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City in Beijing are often confused, which is understandable. They were once a single museum, but were separated following the Chinese Civil War in the 20th century.
Natural History Museum
Located in South Kensington, London, the Natural History Museum took seven years to build, inaugurated in 1881. It houses 80 million specimens dating from the formation of the solar system to the present day and covers a period of 4 .5 billion years.
Founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great, this museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, was opened to house 255 paintings purchased in Berlin, Germany, by the woman who has ruled this country the longest.
The Hermitage now exhibits more than 2.7 million works of art.
The China Science and Technology Museum
This large science museum established in 1988 in Beijing, China, aims to promote ancient Chinese technologies such as astronomical devices, the compass and bronze casting.
Among the main exhibits are the spacesuits of Yang Liwei, China’s first astronaut.
Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum
This Spanish museum located in Madrid presents more than 20,000 works dating from the end of the 19th century to the present day. It was originally a local hospital which was turned into a museum in 1992 to become the Spanish National Museum. Picasso’s Guernica, which is exhibited there, is one of the painter’s most important works.
National Museum of American History
Located in Washington, DC, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History features more than three million artifacts from American history. These range from the top hat that Abraham Lincoln wore on the night of his assassination in 1865 at the Ford Theater, to the “Star-Spangled Banner”, the famous star-spangled banner, the original flag of the United States, which inspired Francis Scott Key the American anthem, through the collection of inaugural dresses of the First Ladies and the puppets of the “Muppet Show”.
Victoria and Albert Museum
Founded in 1852, this museum is named after Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of the United Kingdom. Mainly themed in the architectural and decorative arts, the Kensington Museum in London highlights their love and patronage of the arts and sciences.
The whole museum houses a permanent collection of more than 2.3 million objects ranging from ancient Chinese ceramics to the clothes of Vivienne Westwood, the “enfant terrible of fashion”, to posters of David Bowie.