10 Midwestern Art Museums You Shouldn’t Miss


Nelson Atkins Museum of Art | Kansas City

Driving distance: 4 hours

From Degas’ “Ballet Rehearsal” to Van Gogh’s “Oliver Trees,” Nelson-Atkins houses an impressive collection of French paintings, many donated by Marion and Henry Bloch. The Bloch galleries include works by Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Pierr-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley, etc. In total, the museum’s collection has more than 33,500 works of art, including its famous Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park, featuring those four iconic frills. 4525 Oak, Kansas City.

Indianapolis Museum of Art in Newfields | Indianapolis

Driving distance: 4 hours

In 2017, the Indianapolis Museum of Art partnered with Fairbanks Park, The Garden, Lilly House, and Elder Greenhouse to create the campus now known as Newfields, a place for nature and the arts. The IMA houses the most comprehensive Neo-Impressionist collection in North America, and the museum houses everything from pop art to ancient Greek classics. 4000 Michigan, Indianapolis, Indiana.

Memphis Brooks Art Museum | Memphis

Driving distance: 4.5 hours

Founded more than a century ago, the private Midtown Memphis Museum is the oldest and largest art museum in Tennessee. The Beaux-Arts building houses a permanent collection that includes works by Renoir, Thomas Hart Benton, Robert Motherwell, and Nancy Graves, as well as the late Memphis artist Carroll Cloar. Then there are the current exhibits, including eye-catching art by Andy Warhol, narrative artist Ke Francis and “Art of the African Diaspora”. 1934 Poplar, Memphis, Tennessee.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | Bentonville

Driving distance: 5 hours

The building itself might be the most impressive work of art. The modern Moshe Safdie-designed museum is located in the heart of the Ozark Mountains, with a series of pavilions atop two stream-fed ponds. Founded by Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, and an avid supporter of the arts in northwest Arkansas, Crystal Bridges features works by Norman Rockwell, Mary McCleary, Agnes Pelton, Chuck Close, Jasper Johns , Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and Mary Cassat. And beyond the museum itself, visitors can explore the Bachman-Wilson House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, as well as sculptures scattered throughout the surrounding 120 acres of forest. 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas.

The Art Institute of Chicago | Chicago

Driving distance: 5 hours

Recognized as one of the oldest and largest museums in the world, AIC dates back to 1879 and was part of the effort to rebuild Chicago after the Great Fire of 1871 destroyed much of the city. The institute was founded as a museum and a school, and it still retains its academic beginnings with a research library and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Today, the permanent collection contains 300,000 works of art. Notable works include “The Bedroom” by Vincent van Gogh, “A Sunday on the Grande Jatte” by Georges Seurat, “The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso, “Rue de Paris; Rainy Day” by Gustave Caillebotte, etc. 111 S. Michigan, Chicago, Illinois.

Des Moines Art Center + John and Mary Pappajohn Sculpture Park | monks

Driving distance: 6 hours

Focused on contemporary art, the Des Moines Art Center collection includes works by Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Hopper, Henry Ossawa Tanner, and more. Don’t miss the Pappajohn Sculpture Park (1330 Large). The 4.4-acre park features artwork by more than 24 artists and is open from sunrise to midnight. 4700 GrandsDes Moines, Iowa.

American Art Museum of the Midwest | Elkhart, Indiana

Driving distance: 6 hours

Located in a neoclassical building, the MMAA houses four decades of American art. With over 7,000 works, the permanent collection includes hand-signed lithographs by Norman Rockwell and the world’s largest collection of Overbeck Art Pottery. The current exhibition, Norman Rockwell: American illustrator, is visible until September 25. 429 S. Main, Elkhart, Indiana.

Detroit Institute of the Arts | Detroit

Driving distance: 8 hours

Mexican muralist Diego Rivera is said to have considered his murals at the DIA his finest work. The 27 paintings depict workers working at the Ford Motor Company and cover the four walls of the museum’s garden courtyard. The DIA was the first museum in the United States to purchase a painting by Vincent van Gogh. The “Self-Portrait, 1887” is one of approximately 1,000 paintings in the European Paintings section, which dates from the 1100s to 1950s. 5200 Woodward, Detroit, Michigan.

Cleveland Museum of Art | Cleveland

Driving distance: 9 hours

Auguste Rodin’s famous “Thinker” welcomes visitors. It is one of 25 such works in the world and can be found guarding the entrance. The museum opened in 1916, but its mission – to be a place “for the benefit of all forever” – was established even earlier, when the land was donated in 1892. Today, the museum collection covers all periods and regions of the world. It is housed in two buildings which are connected by an atrium. 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio.

Weismann Art Museum | Minneapolis

Driving distance: 9 hours

The museum’s geometric stainless steel facade shimmers along the Mississippi River. Designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, it has become a landmark for the Twin Cities and the University of Minnesota. The museum houses 20th century American art and an extensive collection of contemporary art. 333 E. River, Minneapolis, Minnesota.


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