There are a huge number of museums in the world – according to some sources, more than one hundred thousand. Of course, it is completely impossible to see everything, but if you want to start somewhere, then here is a list of the largest and most interesting museums and galleries that you can get to absolutely free of charge, and not on certain days of the month, but whenever you like.
London National Gallery, London, UK
Working hours: daily from 10:00 to 18:00, on Fridays until 21:00
Famous exhibits: “Sunflowers” by Van Gogh, “Portrait of the Arnolfini Couple” by Van Eyck, “Holy Family” by Titian
You can get into one of the largest art galleries in Great Britain for free – and see more than two thousand paintings from the XII to the XX century. It is difficult to walk past the gallery: it is located in the very center of London, on Trafalgar Square.
This is a significant place in the history of painting: masterpieces of all European schools of painting are collected under one roof. It is impossible to see everything in one go, so in order not to get lost in the world of paintings, plan your route in advance: choose certain paintings or painters you want to get acquainted with. If you don’t know where to start, you can check out the list on the gallery’s website and see 30 of the most significant paintings.
Museum of Contemporary Art of the City of Paris, Paris, France
Working hours: daily from 10:00 to 18:00, on Thursdays until 22:00
Famous exhibits: “The Light of Electricity” by Raoul Dufy, “Parisian Dance” by Matisse.
The museum is located in the 16th arrondissement of Paris, in the building of the Tokyo Palace. The collection includes over 8000 pieces representing various trends in 20th century art. Here you can get acquainted with the avant-garde trends – Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism, Surrealism – and more modern works.
The permanent exhibition is divided into two large sections. The first includes works of art created from the early twentieth century to the 1960s. In these halls you can see the masterpieces of Braque, Chagall, Delaunay, Derain, Dophi, Modigliani, Picasso. Furniture and interior items from that era are also displayed here. The second section includes various currents of contemporary art created after 1960. There are also separate rooms, one of which is dedicated to the works of Matisse, and the second – to the huge fresco “The Light of Electricity” by Raoul Dophi.
The museum is associated with one of the largest thefts of recent years: in 2010, five works belonging to the brush of Picasso, Léger, Matisse, Modigliani and Braque were stolen from here. Their total cost is about $ 100 million. The paintings have not yet been found.
Getty Museum, Los Angeles, USA
Working hours: 10:00 – 17:30, Saturdays until 21:00
Notable exhibits: “Irises” by Van Gogh, “Walk” by Renoir, the statue of Cybele
The largest art museum in California is free to visit any day of the year. It was founded by oil tycoon Jean Paul Getty, who at the time of his death in 1976 was the richest man on the planet. After his death, he left his private collection and all his fortune to the museum, which made it possible to buy works of old masters and antique sculpture at prestigious auctions. At some point, the enthusiasm of the employees even led to the creation of an artificial excitement in the art market and a sharp increase in prices.
Today, the Getty Museum consists of two complexes: the Getty Villa in Malibu (a huge palace built during the billionaire’s lifetime) and the Getty Center in Los Angeles, which was built in 1997 by the famous American architect Richard Meier. All the most famous works of art are kept in the center, and the collection of the antique period remains in the villa.
If you are not going to California yet, it will not hurt to get acquainted with the exhibits of the museum: since 2013, more than 4,600 digitized images are available to anyone with access to the Internet.
National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark
Working hours: from Tuesday to Sunday from 10:00 to 17:00; Monday closed
Notable exhibits: belongings of the Egtveda girl, sun wagon
Anyone wishing to get acquainted with the history of Denmark can do it for free. But do not think that you will find yourself in a simple museum of the type of local history: the country’s most important cultural and historical museum has been operating since 1892 and during this time has collected a lot of interesting exhibits about Denmark in all eras of its existence.
You are here if you, for example, are a fan of the Vikings – the museum contains the richest collection of artifacts of that period, including stones with the oldest images of runes. You can see the Trunnholm chariot, the golden horns from Gallehus and the carriage from Daibjerg.
One of the most interesting exhibits is the things of a girl from Egtved, found near the village of the same name in 1921. The burial dates back to about 1370 BC, and over the past millennia, the body has completely decomposed, but all jewelry and clothing (including a mini-skirt) have been preserved almost in their original form. It is still the best-preserved garment of northern Europe from the Bronze Age.
And the most famous exhibit is the Solar Carriage. It is a large bronze horse harnessed to a chariot in the shape of a sun, one side of which is gilded. The sculpture dates back to about the same time as the girl from Egtved. Most likely, some religious rituals were associated with the chariot.
National Museum of China, Beijing, China
Working hours: from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 to 17:00; Monday closed
Famous exhibits: Ding Sacrificial Tripod (3000 years old), Yuanmou Man (1.7 million years old), Jade Prince
It is the largest museum in the country and the most visited museum in the world. At the same time, it is not very popular with foreign tourists, so the Chinese themselves make the main cash register. But it’s worth a look, especially if you are interested in the history of China – nowhere else in the world you will find so many exhibits. More than 620 thousand of them are stored here!
The museum covers 5000 years of the country’s history, from ancient times to the present. The upper floors, where the exposition about the modern history of China, the revolution and the Communist Party is located, is not very interesting for foreigners, but it is definitely worth seeing the halls with antiquities.
The museum contains truly priceless exhibits. For example, you should go here to look at the soldiers of the terracotta army – however, there are only a few of them. The sacrificial tripod Din – a ritual vessel that was used for sacrifice to the spirits of ancestors – definitely deserves your attention. It is over 3000 years old, and this bowl weighs 833 kilograms, which makes it the world’s largest bronze product of antiquity.
Another exhibit that attracts attention is the Jade Prince, a beautifully preserved robe, sewn with gold threads from fragments of polished jade. Prince Zhongshan was buried in it several thousand years ago.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Working hours: daily from 10:00 to 17:45, on Fridays until 22:00
Famous exhibits: “Portrait of Esmeralda Brandini” by Botticelli, “Daydream” by Rossetti
A visit to one of the finest museums in London and the museum with the richest collection of decorative and applied arts in Europe will cost you absolutely free. Just keep in mind that you need to spend at least a couple of days to inspect all the halls, and that will be a rather superficial acquaintance with the beautiful: in the 140 halls of the museum there are more than four million items.
The museum displays rare exhibits covering 5000 years of mankind’s pursuit of beauty. Here are the household items of the ancient Egyptians, and the latest examples of home design. British halls are very popular with children because they have a lot of interactive installations. Adults will surely enjoy the exhibitions of costumes, including theatrical ones, while art lovers will definitely appreciate Raphael’s sketches for the Sistine Chapel tapestries. And also furniture, musical instruments, decorations and even elements of building facades are presented here – and all this is not only from Europe, but also from Asia and Japan. You can also view Britain’s largest collection of early British photography.
National Gallery of Art, Washington, USA
Working hours: from Monday to Saturday from 10:00 to 17:00, on Sundays from 11:00 to 18:00
Famous exhibits: “Portrait of Ginevra de Benci” by Leonardo da Vinci, “Walk. Lady with an Umbrella “Claude Monet,” A Family of Comedians “by Pablo Picasso
The National Gallery in Washington DC has one of the world’s finest collections of art. Here you can look at the world famous paintings by European and American masters – there are more than 1200 paintings in total. It houses one of the world’s finest collections of Italian Renaissance paintings. Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Bellini, Giorgione, Fra Beato Angelico, Pietro Perugino – the gallery has something to be proud of. And, of course, the works of the three greatest masters of the Renaissance – Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo – are also here. Michelangelo’s work, however, is represented by only a few drawings, but one of the most famous works of Leonardo, the portrait of Ginevra de Benci, is kept in the National Gallery. Incidentally, this is the only work of the artist on the American continent.
The gallery consists of two buildings connected by an underground passage. The Western Building – an older one, built in neoclassical style with columns and a massive dome – houses sculptures and works of great masters of the past. The eastern building is newer, and contains collections of paintings by contemporary artists. There are also training and research centers.
A huge Sculpture Garden is open at the gallery, where you can look at modern sculptures, relax on benches, and in winter ride an ice rink that opens in the center of the garden.