Best Art Museums in the U.S.
When it comes to famous art and museums, you may be surprised to know that the U.S. is home to some pretty amazing art museums. We’ve put together a list of the best art museums in the U.S. from New York to Los Angeles. In these museums, you can find famous works from artists such as Leonardo da Vinci to pop art legend, Andy Warhol. Discover art from every medium and artistic era in the best art museums throughout the country. Art museums are great options for a romantic date or a family friendly outing if you are looking for things to do with kids.
1.Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, commonly known as “The Met”, is the largest art museum in the United States. In 2017, it was the 3rd most visited museum in the world with over 7 million visitors.
The Met is comprised of 3 separate buildings: The Met Fifth Avenue, The Met Breuer, and the Met Cloisters. It is home to more than two million pieces of art in its permanent collection curated from the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Europe.
Did you know?: Only 36 paintings by Johannes Vermeer are known to survive, and the Met has five of them.
Admission is donation-based for New York residents as well as students from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students. It is $25 for non- residents. Your ticket gets you admission for three consecutive days to all three museums.
You’ll want to see these works: The Egyptian Collection. The Vermeer collection. Couture designs by Chanel, Laurent, and Balenciaga.
2.National Gallery of Art – Washington D.C.
Receiving more than 5.2 million visitors annually, the National Gallery of Art is the United States collection of fine art and is located on the National Mall and is in close to proximity to several historical tourist attractions and national monuments in addition to the museum itself. The museum is divided into east and west buildings. The west building houses the museum’s American and European Collections, specifically its Kress collection that features works by Rembrandt, Leonardo da Vinci, and Raphael. The east wing consists mostly of modern art and special exhibits.
Admission is free.
You’ll want to see these works: Portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci by Leonardo da Vinci (below). This is the only Leonardo painting in the Americas. Samuel Kress Collection.
3.Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) – New York City, New York
The Museum of Modern Art saw 2.7 million visitors in 2017 and even more are expected after the finalization of the 400 million dollar renovation is complete this fall. The MoMA is located in midtown Manhattan and contains a large collection of Modernist art. Here, you will find some of the most recognizable paintings by artists such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Pollack, and Rousseau. MoMa is also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, The Modern. While The Modern does not accept reservations, it is only open to museum patrons.
Admission is $25 with discounts for students and seniors. You can get in free on Fridays from 4-8 p.m.
You’ll want to see these works: Andy Warhol’s Campbell Soup Cans; Number 31 by Jackson Pollack; Sleeping Gypsy by Henri Rousseau; and Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh is an absolute must.
4.Smithsonian American Art Museum –Washington D.C
Commonly known as SAAM, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is part of the collective Smithsonian Institution. Along with its sister branch, the Renwick Gallery, SAAM holds one of the world’s largest and most inclusive collections of art, from the colonial period to the present, made in the United States. The museum has more than 7,000 artists represented in the collection. Most exhibitions take place in the museum’s main building, the old Patent Office Building (shared with the National Portrait Gallery), while craft-focused exhibitions are shown in the Renwick Gallery.
Admission is free to all of the Smithsonian museums.
You’ll want to see these collections: Early American Art, Contemporary Art, Art by African Americans (it is one of the most extensive collections of African American art in the world).
5.Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest art museum in the United States and sees more than 1.6 million visitors each year. This museum is most well-known for its expansive collection of American art, African American art, antique Asian art, and early 20th-century furniture. However, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art are the highlights of the collection here. The Art Institute hosts one of America’s largest collection of Monet paintings.
Admission is $14. Chicago and Illinois residents can enjoy the museum for free from 5-8 p.m.
You’ll want to see these works: the Monet and Renoir Collections; American Gothic by Grant Woods; Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte
- Getty Center – Los Angeles, California
The Getty gets its name from oil Tycoon, Jean Paul Getty who left 700 million dollars of his fortune to the Getty museum upon his death. The Getty Center receives more than 1.6 million visitors annually. The collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum comprises Greek, Roman, and Etruscan art from the Neolithic to Late Antiquity; European art—including illuminated manuscripts, paintings, drawings, sculpture, and decorative arts—from the Middle Ages to the early twentieth century; and international photography from its inception to the present day.
Admission is free but parking is $15 per car. That rate is reduced to $10 after 3 p.m.
You’ll want to see these works: Irises by Vincent Van Gogh; Sunrise by Claude Monet; La Promenade by Pierre-Auguste Renoir; Spring by Edouard Manet.
- Museum of Fine Arts Boston – Boston, Massachusetts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has over 450,00 works and is renowned for its collections of American Art, Japanese Art, and Egyptian Art. Here you will find the most extensive collection of Japanese art and pottery outside of Japan. Music lovers will appreciate the gallery of 1,100 musical instruments that date as far back as Medieval times.
Admission is $25 with discounts for senior citizens and students.
You’ll want to see these works: Portrait of Paul Revere and Watson and the Shark by John Singleton Copley, the Monet Collection.
- Cleveland Museum of Art – Cleveland, Ohio
The Cleveland Museum of Art may not have the extensively sized collections compared to some of the other museums on our list but it is still quite deserving of making the list of one of the best art museums in the United States. Patrons can enjoy the 45,000 pieces in less crowded and larger spaced galleries. You can find works by Goya, Matisse, Van Gogh, and Botticelli. The Cleveland Museum of Art has art for all ages and is great if you are looking for something to do with kids.
Admission is free.
You’ll want to see these works: Parisian Gothic Table Fountain, 18th-century pre- and post-French revolution paintings. Francisco de Goya’s Saint Ambrose
- Detroit Institute of the Arts – Detroit, Michigan
Another smaller museum on our list but often ranking in the Top 5 museums to see in the U.S., the Detroit Institute of the Arts has about 65,000 pieces on display including exclusive collections of Early European paintings, ancient artifacts, and American art. Notable pieces include a copy of Rodin’s Thinker and Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Wedding Dance.
Admission varies by exhibit.
You’ll want to see these works: Rodin’s Thinker and Pieter Bruegel The Elder’s The Wedding Dance.
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