France may have the Louvre and the Tate Modern in London, but the United States is also home to countless world-class art institutions. Here at Paste, we’ve covered quirky museums, overlooked museums, and even music-themed museums. This week, we’re bringing you nine must-see American art museums. Although you don’t have to leave the country, and you may not even have to leave your home country to visit these institutions, the pieces they contain will take you on a visual journey through the world and throughout history, one work at a time. . If you haven’t seen a Pollock, Warhol, Picasso or Monet in person yet, these museums are for you and your to-do list.
Paste Travel Bucket List Columnist Lauren Kilberg is a Chicago-based freelance writer. Her travels have taken her camping near the Pakistani border of India and conquering volcanoes in the Philippines.
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the New York one Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met for short, is spread across three locations: Met Fifth Avenue, Met Breuer and Met Cloisters. Representing over 5,000 years of art from all corners of the globe and over two million works in its permanent collection, it is officially the largest art museum in the United States. The Met opened in 1872, in a different location, and today its galleries include musical instruments, paintings, weapons, clothing, sculptures and more.
Notable works: Vincent van Gogh (Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat), Claude Monet (The Houses of Parliament, Fog Effect), Edgar Degas (The Dancing Class), Rembrandt (Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer), Pablo Picasso (The Windmill oil), Jackson Pollock (Autumn Rhythm, Issue 30)
Photo by Timothy Neesam, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The J. Paul Getty Museum mission “seeks to inspire curiosity, enjoyment and understanding of the visual arts by collecting, curating, exhibiting and interpreting works of art of exceptional quality and historical significance.” The two-site museum was founded by oil magnate J. Paul Getty and consists of the Getty Center and the Getty Villa in Los Angeles. The main location of the museum houses a collection of pre-20th century art with works dating back to the Middle Ages. It is housed in a campus designed by Richard Meier that also includes the Getty Foundation, the J. Paul Getty Trust, the Getty Research Institute, as well as the Getty Conservation Institute. The Villa Getty, a tribute to the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum on the personal property of the founder, houses a collection of almost 45,000 rotating works from ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. It occupies 64 acres on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean and includes a 2,500 square foot pavilion, two formal gardens with Roman sculptures, and a 450-seat open-air Greek theater.
Notable works: Vincent van Gogh (Iris), Claude Monet (Sunrise, Marine), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (La Promenade), Paul Gauguin (The Royal End), Rembrandt (An Old Man in Military), Canaletto (The Grand Canal in Venice from the Palazzo Flangini in Campo San Marcuola)
Photo by Damien Halleux Radermeck, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
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Formally the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, this world-class art collection was established in 1937 through a non-profit organization of the same name. When it officially opened in 1939, it was known as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, but was later renamed in honor of its founder. Since 1959, it has been housed in an iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building on New York’s Upper East Side. The iconic cylindrical building, inspired by a nautilus shell, features a unique spiral gallery that extends from the ground floor to the top floor. The New York location shares a collection with a network of Guggenheim Museums around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Spain. The collection includes important works of modern and contemporary art.
Notable works: Fernand Léger (Nude model in studio), Franz Marc (The yellow cow), Paul Klee (Red balloon), Jean Metzinger (Woman with a fan)
Photo by Yann Pinczon du Sel, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The National Art Gallery in Washington, DC is located on the National Mall. This free national art museum is spread over three sites, the western neoclassical building designed by John Russell Pope, the modern building is designed by renowned architect IM Pei, and a 6-acre outdoor sculpture garden. The museum’s original collection was a gift from Andrew W. Mellow, who also helped fund its construction in 1937. The National Gallery of Art’s permanent collection includes works dating from the Middle Ages, with a significant collection from the Renaissance Italian. Its collection of prints alone numbers 75,000 works.
Notable works: Raphael (Cowper Madonna), Rembrandt (Self-portrait with beret and raised collar), Vincent van Gogh (Self-portrait), Paul Gauguin (Self-portrait), Henri Rousseau (The equatorial jungle), John Singer Sargent (Rue de Venise), Jacques-Louis David (Napoleon in his study), Leonardo da Vinci (Ginevra de’ Benci)
Photo by OZinOH, CC BY-NC 2.0
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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) houses an impressive collection of some 33,000 works of modern and contemporary art and includes paintings, sculpture, photography, media art and more. It was founded in 1935 and was officially the first museum dedicated to 20th century art on the West Coast. In 1965, SFMOMA hosted Jackson Pollock’s first solo museum exhibition. The museum has been housed in a Mario Botta-designed building in downtown San Francisco since 1995. After being closed for three years due to a major expansion, SFMOMA reopened in May of last year.
Notable works: Frida Kahlo (Frieda and Diego Rivera), Edward Hopper (Entracte), Chuck Close (Agnes), Alexander Calder (Double Gong), Cy Twombly (Second Voyage to Italy, Second Version), Andy Warhol (Triple Elvis)
Photo by sswj, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
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The Boston Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) was founded in 1870 and opened in 1876. It currently contains over 450,000 works, including Egyptian artifacts, Chinese paintings, Japanese pottery, French impressionist paintings and more. Having undergone several transformations and expansions over the decades, it now includes the Art of the Americas Wing and the Linde Family Wing for Contemporary Art.
Notable works: Rembrandt (The artist in his studio), Gilbert Stuart (George Washington), Edgar Degas (Racehorses at Longchamp), Claude Monet (Poppy field in a hollow near Giverny), Mary Cassatt (Tea), Francisco Goya ( Seated Giant), Childe Hassam (At Dusk, Boston Common at Twilight), Vincent van Gogh (Postman Joseph Roulin)
Photo by Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0
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Housing some 150,000 works from Antiquity to the present day, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is officially the largest art museum in the western United States. The multi-building campus covers 20 acres in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park, adjacent to the La Brea Tar Pits. It was established in 1961 before opening to the public in 1965. Previously, it was part of the Los Angeles Museum of History, Science and Art, founded in 1910. The campus consists of three main buildings: the Art of the Americas Building (Ahmanson Building), Frances and Armand Hammer Building (Lytton Gallery), as well as the Bing Center. The museum’s courtyard features a garden of 100 palm trees and the Urban Light installation designed by Chris Burden, which consists of just over 20 antique cast iron streetlights from various parts of Los Angeles.
Notable works: Paul Cézanne (Still Life with Cherries and Peaches), Claude Monet (Water Lilies), Rembrandt (The Raising of Lazarus), David Hockney (Mulholland Drive: The Workshop Road), Roy Lichtenstein (Cold Shoulder)
Photo by edwardhblake, DC BY 2.0
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Founded in 1979, the Chicago Art Institute is the second largest and one of the oldest art museums in the country. It covers nearly one million square feet in Chicago’s Grant Park, right next to Lake Michigan. The museum’s main entrance is guarded by two iconic bronze lion statues by Edward Kemeys, which have been a beloved symbol of Chicago since their grand opening in 1894. The museum’s east entrance features a stone arch entrance, designed by Louis Sullivan, of the former Chicago Stock Exchange. The Art Institute houses a permanent collection of some 300,000 works spanning 5,000 years. After its original building was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire, the museum called the former World Congress Auxiliary Building built for the World’s Columbian Exposition since 1893. In 2009, the Art Institute expanded to include the modern wing designed by Renzo Piano, which houses works by Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and many more.
Notable works: Georges Seurat (A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte), Pablo Picasso (The Old Guitarist), Gustave Caillebotte (Rue de Paris, Rainy Day), Pierre-Auguste Renoir (Two Sisters, On the Terrace) , Vincent van Gogh (Bedroom in Arles), Grant Wood (American Gothic), Edward Hopper (Nighthawks), Georgia O’Keeffe (Black Cross, New Mexico) Ivan Albright (Photo by Dorian Gray), Marc Chagall (White Crucifixion), Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (At the Moulin Rouge), Diego Rivera (Portrait of Marevna)
Photo by Mark Heard, CC BY-NC 2.0
9 out of 9
Officially the modern Art Museum, but often referred to simply as MoMA, this museum contains one of the best and most influential collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. Founded in 1929 and currently located in Midtown Manhattan, the museum’s collections include paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, books, electronic media and much more, comprising more than 150,000 works of art, 300,000 books and 22,000 films.
Notable works: Andy Warhol (Campbell’s Soup Cans), Vincent van Gogh (The Starry Night), Frida Kahlo (Self-Portrait with Bobbed Hair), Jackson Pollock (Number 31), Marc Chagall (Me and the Village), Roy Lichtenstein (The Girl who is drowning), Claude Monet (Reflections of the clouds on the waterlily pond), Paul Cézanne (The Bather), Henri Matisse (The Dance), Salvador Dali (The persistence of memory), Andrew Wyeth (Christina’s World) , Jasper Johns (Flag)
Photo by htmvalerio, CC BY-ND 2.0