Life-changing art museums you need to visit

Photos source: Wealth of Geeks

By Melanie Allen | Wealth of Geeks

Humanity has been creating art for millennia. The earliest known artworks predate civilization by 40,000 years. Artistic expression is clearly important for the human condition.

Our obsession with art only grew as we formed communities, then cities. As humanity learned the benefits of specialization, our artistic abilities flourished.

We cultivated talent, created schools focused on fine-tuning skills, dedicated state funds to promote artistic culture, and built massive museums, allowing us to store the most iconic artworks ever created for posterity.

These top art museums store some of humanity’s greatest treasures.

The Louvre

Paris tops many travelers’ bucket lists, and the Louvre is a top attraction. The museum features some of the most famous artworks of all time, including Leonardo da Vinci’s mysterious “Mona Lisa” and the timeless Greek beauty “Venus De Milo.”

Karee Blunt, travel expert with Our Woven Journey, says anyone visiting Paris should add the Louvre to their itinerary. “When we went, the ‘Mona Lisa’ was in a room with only one other painting, ‘The Wedding at Cana’. The juxtaposition in the sizes of these two famous artworks was striking. One was enormous, and the other was shockingly small.”

Blunt recommends you plan Louvre visits later in the afternoon when the crowds start to thin, as that gives guests the best opportunity to see the “Mona Lisa” without a crushing crowd of people trying to take selfies.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the MET, is the largest art museum in the United States and the fourth-largest in the world. It houses nearly 500,000 objects spanning centuries of human creation, from ancient Egyptian masterpieces to modern art.

Impressive works gracing the walls of the MET include “George Washington Crossing Delaware,” the iconic image capturing Washington’s perseverance in the American Revolution, Vincent Van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat,” and Jackson Pollock’s “Autumn Rhythm (Number 30).”

The museum shines in showcasing arts and styles from across time and cultures; some of humanity’s oldest surviving works, dating from the eighth millennium B.C., are housed under the same roof as works created this decade.

The Art Institute of Chicago

Massive bronze lions guard the entrance to Chicago’s iconic art museum, striking visitors with awe before they even enter the gallery. The Institute houses over 300,000 works ranging from ancient Egyptian vessels to contemporary sculpture.

Margarita Ibbott, Travel and Arts Writer at DownshiftingPRO, calls the Art Institute of Chicago one of the most memorable and influential museums in the United States. “The most awe-inspiring work of art is Georges Seurat’s ‘A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,’ which depicts Parisians enjoying all sorts of leisurely activities,” says Ibbott. “Seeing this huge painting up close lets you see how intricate it is — a series of points of colors used to create an image,” she adds, describing Seurat’s use of pointillism to create the work.

The Art Institute of Chicago also features one of the largest collections of impressionist paintings in the United States, a stunning hall of medieval armor, and a massive contemporary wing showcasing the best of modern art.

The Musee d’Orsay

Impressionist lovers can’t miss the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. The museum focuses on art from 1848-1914 and houses thousands of works from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist periods, including more than 300 works by the iconic Vincent Van Gogh.

Highlights include Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” and “Starry Night” — sometimes referred to as “Starry Night over the Rhone” to differentiate it from the more popular version of the painting on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York — and James Whistler’s “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1,” better known as “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother.”

The Musee d’Orsay also features a wide range of works by Monet, Monat, Renoir, and Degas.

The National Gallery

London’s National Gallery may only have 2,000 works of art, but it represents the world’s finest sampling of European works.

The museum features pieces from the world’s most famous artists from the Renaissance through Post-Impressionism. Visitors will find works from household names like da Vinci, Michelangelo, Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, and Paul Gauguin gracing its walls, among many others.

It also hosts exhibitions and special programs supporting living artists, making it a hot spot for London’s contemporary art scene.

Uffizi Gallery

Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, still proudly stands as one of the world’s most prominent art cities. It’s home to the Uffizi Gallery, one of the world’s finest art galleries and research institutions.

The gallery features nearly 200,000 works, including a robust collection of drawings and prints preserved for educational and research value. It also features a study room, which allows professionals to review works in a controlled setting.

Despite the Uffizi Gallery’s institutional importance, its works are the show’s true stars. Here, visitors can view Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” in all her splendor alongside da Vinci’s “Adoration of the Magi,” Raphael’s “Madonna of the Goldfinch,” and Rembrandt’s “Portrait of an Old Man.”

The Uffizi also features a wide range of Byzantine art, offering a glimpse into the changes in art culture from the 11th to the 15th centuries. The 12th and 13th-century art on display highlights religion’s massive societal impact during that era, with all works depicting Biblical imagery. The shift to the 14th and 15th centuries brought the Renaissance, allowing artists to explore mythological motifs and bold color patterns unheard of in previous centuries.

Art’s Lasting Influence

The craft’s profound impact on society means these featured museums offer far more than paintings on a wall — gallery halls connect visitors with the past, offering a glimpse of bygone beliefs and ways of life.

These museums house humanity’s story, told by creators and artists through the ages. They give spectators space to appreciate works’ historical, artistic, and cultural impact and allow visitors to participate in something far greater than themselves, if just for a brief moment. Guests who appreciate galleries from this perspective can experience life-changing visits.

This article was produced by Media Decision and syndicated by Media Decision.