Need a break from the chaos of this year? Then why not spend an evening out at an art museum, or better yet, take a virtual museum tour from the comfort of your home! This article will give you insights on some of the best U.S. cities to visit art museums as well as 15 incredible virtual museum tours you can visit anytime, from anywhere in the world on your smartphone, tablet or computer.
Top U.S. Cities to Visit Art Museums
An art museum is a building or space for the display of art, usually from the museum's own collection that can be publicly or privately owned. Although primarily concerned with visual art, art museums are often used as a venue for other cultural exchanges and artistic activities, such as performance arts, music concerts, or poetry readings. Art museums also frequently host themed temporary exhibitions, which often include items on loan from other collections.
Some well-known U.S. art museums include the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) in New York as well as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the Chicago Art Institute. Below is a list of the top U.S. cities to view and experience art based on the total number of art museums in each city. Data source: Wikipedia
- New York City, New York – 19 art museums
- Washington, D.C. – 11 art museums
- Houston, Texas – 9 art museums
- Chicago, Illinois – 8 art museums
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania – 7 art museums
- Santa Fe, New Mexico – 7 art museums
- Miami, Florida – 6 art museums
- Boston, Massachusetts – 5 art museums
- Dallas, Texas – 5 art museums
- Los Angeles, California – 5 art museums
- San Francisco, California – 5 art museums
15 Best Virtual Art Museum Tours
Interested in visiting an art gallery or museum, but you don’t live near one or would prefer to stay in the comfort of your own home? No problem! One positive thing to have come out of this year is the increased availability of virtual museums and online art gallery tours. Through an incredible collaboration with Google Arts and Culture, many of the virtual tours mentioned in this article are offered for free at the click of a button. With over 2,000 museums partners around the world, Google Arts and Culture is an online platform that showcases high-resolution images and videos of world-renowned masterpieces and invaluable cultural artifacts. Below is a list of our 15 favorite virtual museums and art gallery tours to get you started!
Art Institute of Chicago - Chicago, Illinois
The Art Institute of Chicago’s collection includes iconic works such as Georges Seurat's A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso's The Old Guitarist, Claude Monet's Water Lillies and Grant Wood's American Gothic. Its permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art is augmented by more than 30 special exhibitions mounted yearly that illuminate aspects of the collection and present cutting-edge curatorial and scientific research.
British Museum - London, England
The British Museum is a public institution dedicated to human history, art and culture. Its permanent collection of some eight million works is among the largest and most comprehensive in existence, having been widely sourced during the era of the British Empire. Some of its most famous pieces include the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone.
Denver Art Museum - Denver, Colorado
The Denver Art Museum (DAM) is one of the largest art museums in the Midwest and is known for its collection of American Indian art. The museum has nine curatorial departments: Architecture, Design and Graphics; Asian Art; Modern and Contemporary; Native Arts; New World; Painting and Sculpture; Photography; Western Art; and Textile Art and Fashion.
Guggenheim Museum - New York City, New York
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, early Modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year.
J Paul Getty Museum - Los Angeles, California
The Getty Center features pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts and photographs from the inception of photography through present day from all over the world.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art - Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum in the western United States and holds more than 150,000 works spanning the history of art from ancient times to the present. Several of its notable holdings are its collections of Latin American Art, Asian Art and Islamic Art.
Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) is the largest art museum in the United States. The permanent collection consists of works of art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art.
Musee d’Orsay - Paris, France
The Musée d'Orsay is a French art museum housed in the former Gare d'Orsay, a Beaux-Arts railway station. The museum holds mainly French art dating from 1848 to 1914, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of Impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world, by painters including Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin, and Van Gogh.
Museum of Modern Art - New York City, New York
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) plays a major role in developing and collecting modern art, and is often identified as one of the largest and most influential museums of modern art in the world. MoMA's collection offers an overview of modern and contemporary art, including works of architecture and design, drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and artist's books, film and electronic media.
National Gallery of Art - Washington, D.C.
The National Gallery of Art’s collection of paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, medals and decorative arts traces the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present, including the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas.
Philadelphia Museum of Art - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses collections containing over 240,000 objects including major holdings of European, American and Asian origin. The various classes of artwork include sculpture, paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, armor and decorative arts.
Uffizi Gallery - Florence, Italy
The Uffizi Gallery is one of the largest and most important Italian art museums in the world. Open since 1765, it holds a collection of priceless works from the period of the Italian Renaissance that once belonged to the Medici family.
Van Goh Museum - Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Van Gogh Museum is a Dutch art museum dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his contemporaries. The museum houses the largest Van Gogh collection in the world with 200 paintings, 400 drawings and 700 letters by the artist.
Vatican Museums - Rome, Italy
The Vatican Museums display works from the immense collection amassed by the Catholic Church and the papacy throughout the centuries including several of the most renowned Roman sculptures and most important masterpieces of Renaissance art in the world. Two of its most famous works of art include the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo and the Stanze di Raffaello by Raphael.
Whitney Museum of American Art - New York City, New York
The Whitney Museum of American Art (Whitney) focuses on 20th- and 21st-century American art with a permanent collection comprising of more than 25,000 paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints, photographs, films, videos and artifacts of new media by more than 3,500 artists. It places particular emphasis on exhibiting the work of living artists as well as maintaining an extensive permanent collection of important pieces from the first half of the last century.
Whether you are fascinated by ancient Egyptian artifacts or have an affinity for modern works of art, there is a virtual art museum tour for absolutely everyone on this list! And just when you think you've seen them all, don't forget to check out the additional 1,900+ museum partners at Google Arts and Culture.