12 Greatest Art Museums in Europe You Need to Visit

12 Greatest Art Museums in Europe You Need to Visit

Europe has some of the greatest art museums that even uncultured swines will appreciate. The Louvre, Uffizi Gallery, Hermitage… check out everything on this list!

Not only is Europe filled with stunning historic cities and brilliant coastlines, the continent also has some of the very best art museums in the world. The following list features the twelve greatest ones, from the Louvre in Paris to the Hermitage in St. Petersburg and the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

1. Rubens House, Antwerp

Image Credits: CucombreLibre

The Rubens House in Antwerp is the former home and studio of Peter Paul Rubens. Rubens spent most of his life living and working in this very building. It is now a fascinating museum, showcasing furniture and decorations from the 17th century and dozens of paintings made by Rubens himself and his apprentices.

2. Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

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Situated at Museum Square in Amsterdam, the Van Gogh Museum is dedicated to the works of Vincent van Gogh and his colleagues. It features the world’s largest collection of works by van Gogh, including about 200 paintings, 400 drawings and sketches, and 700 letters. More than 1.5 million people visited the museum in 2014, making it the second most visited art museum in the Netherlands, after the Rijksmuseum, also in Amsterdam (see below).

3. Musée d’Orsay, Paris

Image Credits: Dimitry B.

The Musée d’Orsay is located in a striking building in central Paris, in a building that used to be a train station. This particular museum was founded to fill the gap between the older works of art in the Louvre and modern works in the National Museum of Modern Art. So, now the Musée d’Orsay houses French artworks from the mid-18th century to World War I. It’s the tenth most visited art museum in the world.

4. Tate Modern, London

Image Credits: Nick Garrod

While the National Gallery holds the collections of earlier paintings, London’s Tate Modern is Britain’s national gallery of modern art. It houses the British collection of art dating from 1900 until the present, thus featuring both contemporary and modern art. Drawing in more than 4.5 million visitors per year, it is the world’s most visited museum of modern art.

5. Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao

Image Credits: Andrea Ciambra

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Portugal, is housed in one of the most spectacular museum buildings on earth. Described as the greatest building of our time, this museum of contemporary art displays works by artists, such as Rothko, Serra and Warhol. In addition to the permanent exhibitions, it also features several traveling exhibitions from the Guggenheim Foundation. Other renowned Guggenheim Museums are located in Venice and in New York City.

Also Read: Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – There’s Art in Chaos

6. The Gemäldegalerie, Berlin

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Berlin’s Gemäldegalerie has one of the most significant collections of European paintings on the planet. All artistic eras are there, from early works by Flemish masters like Brueghel and van Eyck to Italian Renaissance icons like Raphael and Caravaggio. It’s those regions – the Low Countries and Italy – that are extremely well represented.

7. Uffizi Gallery, Florence

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Home to the world’s greatest collection of Renaissance paintings, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the most important art museums in Europe. It’s filled to the brim with Renaissance masterpieces – all Italian geniuses are represented, including da Vinci, Botticelli, Bellini, Titian, Michelangelo, Raphael and Caravaggio. It’s a downright spectacular museum.

8. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Image Credits: Wouter de Bruijn

Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum is filled with approximately 900,000 items, including a huge collection of paintings from the Dutch Golden Age and a significant collection of Asian art. Especially the works by Dutch painters like Frans Hals, Rembrandt van Rijn, Jan Steen and Johannes Vermeer are what makes this museum so great. In addition to art, the Rijksmuseum houses numerous historical objects as well.

Also Read: Amsterdam Hitlist: The Top 10 Places To Visit

9. Prado National Museum, Madrid

Image Credits: Mike Norton

Exhibiting a wealth of classical masterpieces, the Prado National Museum got its collection from the Spanish royal family, who, for centuries, commissioned paintings from the most renowned European artists. The museum houses works by artists like Titian, Raphael and several Flemish painters, but also a huge collection of works by Spanish artists, such as Velazquez, Ribera and Goya.

10. The National Gallery, London

Image Credits: Andrew Newdigate

Unlike the Louvre or the Prado, the National Gallery in London didn’t get its original collection from an already existing royal collection. Instead, it is an institution created by the British government, which bought the museum’s initial 36 paintings from a wealthy banker. Nowadays, two-thirds of the entire collection comes from private donations. Located on Trafalgar Square, it houses about 2,300 paintings from between the 13th century and the end of the 19th century.

11. The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

Image Credits: Dennis Jarvis

St. Petersburg’s enormous Hermitage was founded in 1764 by czarina Catherina the Great. Since its foundation, the museum has expanded greatly and now comprises six large buildings along the River Neva, the most important of which is the Winter Palace, once the residence of the czars of Russia. The Hermitage houses the world’s largest art collection, encompassing more than three million works of art. Focusing on western European art, the Hermitage has no less than 120 rooms filled with works spanning a period between the Middle Ages and the present. Artists represented there include Rembrandt, Goya, Picasso, Matisse, Raphael, da Vinci, Rubens, van Gogh and Cézanne. Unsurprisingly, it’s the most popular museum in Russia.

12. Louvre, Paris

Image Credits: Kay Gaensler

Before it became a museum, the Louvre building was a fortress and palace of the French kings. There has been a building on the site since the 12th century, a building that evolved into a marvelous royal palace over the course of the following centuries. During its time as royal palace, the Louvre was already home to an impressive art collection – the French royal collection. The building became a public museum and its collection public property after the French Revolution. Nowadays, it’s arguably the world’s most famous and greatest art museum. Absolute highlights include da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’, the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’ and ‘Venus de Milo’.

Also Read: 15 Cities in Europe So Beautiful You Need To Visit Them All

About Author

Bram Reusen

Bram is a freelance writer, translator and travel photographer. He was born and grew up in a small town in Belgium and currently lives in a small town in Vermont, USA. He likes to try different travel styles and he has backpacked across Australia, cycled from Belgium to the North Cape and back, spent three months immersing himself in the Irish culture, hiked across England, climbed numerous mountains in New England, and visited many a handful of European cities. Besides writing and traveling, Bram spends his days reading, working out and trying to live a healthy life.


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