We’ve all been there: you’re traveling to a new city (or revisiting an old one) on a time crunch, and you’ve only got a couple days to take in as much of the culture as possible. While art museums can seem daunting, they are one of the best ways to spend a couple hours acclimating yourself to the history of the city. With this in mind, here are some of the best institutions across Europe for an immersive cultural experience!
No visit to Rome is complete without exploring the treasures atop the Capitoline. While the Vatican Museums are larger, the Capitoline holds an equally impressive amount of Roman artifacts. Even better, it’s location is perfect if you’re interested in site-seeing. It’s just a short walk to the Colosseum, the Theatre of Marcellus, Piazza Venezia and more!
Villa Farnesina is located in Trastevere. Once a residence for a rich banker, it’s decorating with floor-to-ceiling frescos from Renaissance master Raphael and other extraordinary artists. Its location is also perfect for someone looking to go a little further into Roman culture than just visiting the Vatican: Trastevere is full of small pubs, restaurants, and boutiques best known to locals.
We’re cheating a little bit here, because in the same area resides the Alte Pinakothek, Neue Pinakothek, and the Pinakothek der Moderne. All three museums are worth a visit. The Alte Pinakothek houses Old Masters works, the Neue Pinakothek 18th and 19th century art, and the Pinakothek der Moderne art and architecture of the 20th century until today.
For more contemporary art, Haus Der Kunst is a non-collecting public art museum that explores global perspectives. It’s located on one end of the English Gardens, another must-see in the city best known for Oktoberfest.
Paris (you already know you should go the Louvre - but check out these others, as well)
Built as a multicultural center for Paris, the Centre Georges Pompidou houses the a museum of modern and contemporary art. Its collection of over 100,000 works from the 20th and 21st centuries is one of the largest in the world, housed in a building designed by renowned architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers.
This self-described “anti-museum” is a transformative space that presents exciting contemporary exhibitions and performances. The center shows emerging and established artists from France and around the world.
The Thyssen Museum is interesting because it houses two collections from the same family. Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza’s collection was acquired by the Spanish government and has been on permanent display since 1992, his widow’s collection has been held in deposit at the museum since 2004. With over 1000 works of art (focused on European painting from the 13th to the 20th centuries), this museum is well worth the visit.
La Reina Sofia Collection houses more than 21,000 works. Perhaps the most famous of them is Picasso’s Guernica, but there are plenty of other paintings and sculptures to keep you busy at this landmark institution.
Who isn’t familiar with the Post Modern master Vincent Van Gogh? Probably no one. Despite his work appearing in almost every major institution in the world, it’s worth a visit to the museum dedicated specifically to him. The staff is constantly adding to their knowledge of Van Gogh, and invites you to take a look into his life and artistic process.
As we mentioned in our last article, the Rijksmuseum is a national symbol of culture. It houses works by Dutch masters like Rembrandt, Frans Hals, and Johannes Vermeer. The main building was closed in December 2003 for a major renovation and was completed a decade later, so even if you’ve visited before it’s worth a second look.