UK Art Museums

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Our Top Art Museums Worldwide

There are many museums of art all over the world with many of the best located in countries capital cities. It is no surprise then that our top choices include art museums located in London as the UK capital is renowned for its art and culture museums. Here we list out top choices when it comes to art museums in no particular order.

Shanghai Museum of Ancient Chinese Art

Shanghai Museum

The Shanghai Museum of Ancient Chinese Art was established in 1952 and has been based on many different sites before finding a permanent position on The Peoples Square in the centre of Shanghai. The museum boasts eleven galleries and three exhibition venues that house over one million artefacts and works of art.

What Can Visitors expect to See?

Items on display at the museum in Shanghai take us back in time thousands of years with some memorable pieces that really will set your imagination alight. Ancient Chinese Galleries we can view here include

  • Bronze Gallery with over four hundred amazing pieces to see
  • Ceramics Gallery with over five hundred items some Neolithic others from the various dynasties that ruled over the centuries
  • Paintings Gallery with one hundred and twenty pieces of art beginning with the Tang Dynasty through to more modern day pieces
  • Calligraphy Gallery
  • Ancient Sculpture Gallery from Warring States Period through to Ming Dynasty
  • Ancient Jade Gallery featuring centuries of Chinese jade culture
  • Chinese Coins
  • Furniture
  • Seals

Once you have visited all the galleries, which by the way will take you some hours to peruse, visitors can take a look at what's on in the exhibition halls. Running currently is the Indian Buddhist Art Exhibition, Noble Life of the Zhou showing ancient bronzes, Archaeological Discoveries and The Art of Yushan School. Most of these exhibitions run through to the end of March 2015, while further exhibitions will be listed on the website once they are commissioned.

Location Opening Hours and Prices

Both buses and trains run by the museum with Metro Lines 1, 2 and 8 being the lines servicing Peoples Square and Bus numbers 46, 71, 123, 574 and 934. Admission to the museum is free which is amazing!

The museum opens 9am to 5pm seven days a week all year round ensuring visitors whatever time of year they travel to Shanghai they are assured of being able to visit the museum unlike many prestigious museums in the worlds capital cities we have visited in the past that close on certain days. Further information regarding what's on and getting to the museum can be found at the website.

  • Shanghai Museum
  • No 201 Ren Min Da Dao
  • Huangpu District
  • Shanghai
  • 200003
  • P R China
  • Tele 86-21-63723500*132

Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam

Van Gogh Museum

The Van Gogh Museum located in Amsterdam features the largest collection of work created by the man himself. This year, July 2015, will be one hundred and twenty five years since the death Of Vincent Van Gogh therefore the museum, along with many museums throughout Europe, will be commemorating the anniversary with special events and exhibitions. In the UK our very own David Hockney was very much inspired by Van Gogh so look out for Hockney being involved somewhere along the line.

What's On at the Museum?

Visitors will enter the Van Gogh world by viewing his paintings, drawings and letters. His masterpieces are breath-taking, while it is also interesting to see what was on the great masters' mind by reading what he had to say.  The way that Van Gogh viewed life can be seen for real in his amazing artwork, while the setting has been recently upgraded making viewing his work even more spectacular.

Naturally visitors want to see Van Gogh's most famous paintings and they will not be disappointed. Masterpieces on show include

  • Sunflowers 1889
  • Almond Blossom 1880
  • The Potato Eaters 1885
  • Irises 1890
  • The Bedroom 1888
  • Wheatfield with a Reaper 1889
  • Wheatfield with Crows 1890
  • Wheatfield under Thunder Clouds 1890

Every Thursday afternoon the gallery puts on a free thirty minute talk for visitors to join if they so wish, while families are catered for well here with activities such as

  • An all-day treasure hunts
  • Children's workshops
  • Vincent's travelling case where kids will take part in fun Van Gogh themed assignments

The museum holds special Friday night events, while schools and groups are welcomed with guided tours available.

Location and Opening Times

The gallery opens daily from 9am to 5pm and 10pm on Fridays. The museum is a thirty minute walk from Central Station in Amsterdam, while it does cost to park on the street around the museum. Tickets can be ordered online and visitors under eighteen years of age gain free entry. Adult entry costs Fifteen euros rising to seventeen euros on April 1st 2015. Further details regarding bookings and entry can be found at the website.

  • Van Gogh Museum
  • Paulus Potterstraat 7
  • 1071 CX
  • Amsterdam
  • Tele +31 (0) 20 570 5200

The National Gallery London

National Gallery

The National Gallery in London is located in Trafalgar Square and is home to paintings dating from the thirteenth to the nineteenth century that portray Western European traditions. The building housing the museum was established in 1838 with a new wing added in 1876. The building alone is impressive to look at before you even set foot in the door, while free entry means that anyone and everyone has access to the exhibits plus is able to enjoy viewing spectacular works of art.

What Can be Seen Here?

This prestigious museum houses some of the most important paintings in the world making it a popular attraction for travellers when visiting London. The museum boasts over two thousand three hundred works of art by medieval artists, Renaissance artists and French impressionists. Walking up the elegant entrance steps into the grand hallway we could see that we were surrounded by fabulous works of traditional art painted by masters, while visitors need at least two to three hours inside the museum in order to appreciate all there is to see.

The final few weeks of the Rembrandt exhibition is coming to a close but there is plenty taking place at the museum including

  • Inventing Impressionism Exhibition
  • Peder Balke Exhibition
  • Maggi Hambling Walls of Water Exhibition
  • Monet Exhibition
  • National Gallery Masterpiece Tour

Every month there is a picture of the month, details of which can be found at the National Gallery website. Each of the grand exhibition rooms and picture galleries has a central seating area where visitors can sit and drink in the atmosphere while looking at the paintings. Whether it’s a Cezanne or a Rubens a Botticelli or a Raphael the sumptuous surroundings in the gallery fit the masterpieces perfectly.

Audio tours are available, while families can take part in the activities designed to encourage children to take an interest in art including

  • Family tours and printed trails
  • Family walks and talks through the collections
  • Stories art play and song for the under 5's
  • Children's gallery
  • Free family fun on Sundays

Once visitors have toured the works of art they can take the weight off their feet in the on-site café, coffee bar or restaurant.

Location and Opening Times

The museum is located centrally in Trafalgar Square and can be accessed via buses, taxis, the tube and on foot, depending on where your starting point is. The museum opens Saturday to Thursday 10am to 6pm and Friday 10am to 9pm, while entry is free.

The National Gallery

  • Trafalgar Square
  • London
  • WC2N 5DN
  • Tele 020 7747 2885

The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was established in 1866 and comprises of two sites which are the main museum building on Fifth Avenue and the Cloisters building in Manhattan. The museum houses one of the world's most comprehensive collections of art with thousands of artefacts on view for the public to enjoy. The museum has expanded over the decades with the Cloisters Museum and Gardens opening in 1938.

The Fifth Avenue Museum

There is so much to see in this museum that it's hard to say where you should begin. Firstly visitors must set aside a whole day in order to visit the two sites, while some of the amazing exhibits in the Fifth Avenue Museum include

  • Roman artefacts including the museums first artefact that of a Roman Sarcophagus
  • 2,500 European Paintings by famous artists such as Anthony Van Dyck
  • Ancient Egyptian artefacts
  • Arms and Armoury
  • Asian Art including costumes drawings and prints
  • Greek Art
  • Old Masters
  • Musical Instruments
  • Korean Art

The museum also plays hosts to many exhibitions such as the Death Becomes Her Exhibition that covers a century of mourning clothes, Cubism Exhibition, Treasures of India, Thomas Struth Photographs and Madame Cezanne, while China Through the Looking Glass is an exhibition that runs from May to August 2015. Further details regarding temporary exhibitions can be found at the website.

The museum also holds many events throughout the year such as courses, workshops, concerts, and family events with teen programmes aimed at eleven to eighteen year olds. The museum has a fabulous restaurant, welcomes group visits and offers audio tours.

Opening Hours and Location

Located on Fifth Avenue the Metropolitan Museum opens seven days a week all year round except during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year periods. Admission covers entry to the museum plus entry to the Cloisters site within the week. Accompanied children get in free of charge, while Adults pay $25.00, Seniors $17.00 and Students $12.00.

  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • 1000 Fifth Avenue
  • New York
  • 10028-0198
  • Tele 212-535-7710

The Cloisters Museum and Gardens

Cloisters Building

The Cloisters is located in Fort Tryon Park in Northern Manhattan and is dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe from the 12th through to the 15th century. Over two thousand works of art can be seen therefore it is well worth moving on from the main museum to see the treasures here. The surrounding gardens are beautiful, while visitors who wish can take a guided tour of the museum, a gallery talk or join in one of the many family events held here.

The Audio Guided Tour is especially useful as visitors will hear interviews with the curators of the museum along with additional information from people in the know, while medieval music is also played in the background. The audio guide is available in a range of languages including English, French, German, Portuguese, Japanese and Mandarin.

The building itself is amazing with fabulous arches dating back to French medieval times. During the summer months visitors can eat snacks and enjoy drinks outdoors in the ambient garden setting that is welcoming to both adults and children.

Opening Hours and Location

The Cloisters is easy to get to via car, bus and subway with detailed instructions of how to find the museum available at the website. Cloisters visitors may park for free in the Fort Tryon Park. The opening hours for Cloisters are the same as for the main museum on Park Avenue, while admission prices are included in with admission costs to the main museum too. Express admission for both museums can also be bought online. See the website for further details.

  • Cloisters Museum and Gardens
  • 99 Margaret Corbin Drive
  • Fort Tryon Park
  • New York
  • 10040
  • Tele 212-923-3700

The Louvre Paris Art Museum

The Louvre Paris Art Gallery

The world famous Louvre Museum in Paris is home to many amazing works of art and is sited in a magnificent palace that has been its home in the centre of Paris since 1793. The building has been added to and expanded over the centuries with none more controversial than the addition of the famous Pyramid structure in 1989 that dominates the front of the building. Many hated the structure when it was erected worrying that it had taken away the majesty of the original building. The pyramid has gradually grown in popularity and when we visited the Louvre this summer we thought it looked both elegant and appropriate.

What Treasures Lie in the Louvre?

One of the most famous paintings in the world is located in the Louvre namely the Mona Lisa. Travellers cannot visit Paris and leave without seeing the famous lady and we were no exception. The Mona Lisa lived up to expectations although was smaller than we anticipated plus was held behind a glass screen so the pubic couldn't touch her which we suppose is fair enough as ten million visitors pass through the museum every year.  Other treasures not to be missed include the Venus de Milo, The Wedding Feast at Cana and the Oath of Horatii. Those who wish to touch exhibits can do so in the special "Tactile Gallery".

The Louvre has over thirty five thousand works of art on display, which is amazing, while one piece dates back seven thousand years! Collections include

  • Greek Antiquities
  • Roman Antiquities
  • Egyptian Antiquities
  • Islamic Art
  • Sculptures
  • Paintings
  • Prints and Drawings

Audio guides are available along with guided tours, visitor trails and special educational tours for schools. Along with events the Louvre hosts temporary exhibitions such as

  • Medieval Morocco Exhibition
  • Greek Artwork from Museum of Rhodes and Copenhagen
  • The Animal Kingdom from Ancient Egypt

We enjoyed touring the Louvre on our own at our own pace using the superb audio guide. This way we missed nothing and learned an awful lot. Those who wish to be taken on a tour may book to do so. One thing we must inform visitors of is the fact that strangely the museum closes on Tuesdays! We were unaware of this expecting the Louvre to be open seven days a week as many museums worldwide are,  especially prestigious museums like the Louvre.

Naturally if we had done our research we would have realised this fact but we just assumed which was unfortunate as Tuesday was our planned day to visit the museum. We did return the following morning early Wednesday and were glad we did, not only because we could not leave Paris without visiting the Louvre but also as by the time we left in the afternoon lengthy queues had gathered all around the pyramid entrance.

Location and Prices

There are plenty of ways to get to the Louvre. We chose to walk but buses, the metro, cars and taxis are also convenient ways to get to the museum. The museum opens at 9am six days a week and closes Tuesdays. Entrance ticket charges are as follows

  • Entrance to the Permanent Collections (not Napoleon Hall Exhibitions) 12 Euros
  • Napoleon Hall tickets 13 Euros
  • Combined ticket 16 Euros
  • Under 18s free

Further information regarding what's on at the Louvre plus admission prices and opening times can be found at the museum website.

  • The Louvre
  • 75001
  • Paris
  • Tele +33 1 40 20 50 50

The Tate Britain Art Gallery

Tate Britain

The Tate Gallery was established in 1897 and has four major sites throughout the UK. Today we will focus on Tate Britain in London, while the other major sites include:

  • Tate Modern
  • Tate Liverpool
  • Tate St Ives

Tate Britain houses two major displays namely "Walk through British Art" that displays work by some of the most famous British artists and "Spotlights" where visitors can focus on one particular artist. Famous artists included in the Walkthrough include:

  • Hockney
  • Turner
  • Bacon
  • Moore
  • Blake
  • Lowry
  • Hirst
  • Gainsbrough

The Turner Collection housed here is one of the largest in the world and there are two permanent Henry Moore galleries to peruse too. With over seventy thousand items to view visitors will need most of the day to look around if they are to appreciate properly what is on offer. Take a look at art created during World War I or the Surrealism exhibition featuring the work of Salvador Dali, Man Ray and Max Ernst. The Turner Prize exhibition is also held at the Tate Britain with short listed entries to the competition displayed prior to the announcement of who has won that year.

Guided tours of the museum are available as well as tours for two, while private tours for groups can also be arranged. The museum has a great shop along with a café where visitors can relax and enjoy a drink or snacks after touring the museum. Tate welcomes children with many activities arranged to keep them occupied while at the same time encouraging an interest in art.

Opening Times and Location

Tate Britain is located at Millbank and can be accessed via Tube, Bus, Train, Boat, Taxi and Car. Admission to the museum is free except for entry to special exhibitions that typically cost around the £16.00 mark. The museum opens every day to 6pm including Bank Holidays. Further information regarding travel details can be found at the Tate website.

  • Tate Britain
  • Millbank
  • London
  • SW1p 4RG
  • Tele +44 (0)20 7887 8888