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A good museum is a masterpiece in itself – and often just as Instagram-worthy as the artwork it houses. From baroque to contemporary architecture, these are 16 of the most picturesque museums.
1. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
Thanks to its Habsburg heritage, Vienna is home to some of the most extensive art collections in the world. Yet it wouldn’t be Vienna without its splendid architecture, and the Kunsthistorisches Museum is an excellent example.
2. V&A, London
No list would be complete without this London institution. Home to design artefacts from around the world, the museum regularly hosts world-renowned art, photography and fashion exhibitions inside walls so magnificent it can be hard to know where to turn your attention.
3. Schloss Sans Souci, Germany
The closest Germany gets to Versailles, Sans Souci Castle near Berlin is all gilt ornamentation, polished marble floors in yellow and white, rich furnishings and stuccoed allegories of the arts and sciences. Inside the picture gallery – and the oldest royal museum in Germany – you’ll find the works of masters including Caravaggio and Rubens.
4. Riverside Museum, Glasgow
This dramatic building is home to Scotland’s Museum of Transport and Travel not only gives insight into the city as a former maritime powerhouse, but highlights Glasgow‘s growing role as one of the UK’s most advanced destinations for art, design and architecture.
5. Guggenheim Museum, New York
A hub for contemporary art and one of the first examples of a non-traditional museum layout, this Manhattan landmark has been one of the most photographed gallery buildings in the world since its genesis in the 1950s. Inside, the Bauhaus-style masterwork’s spiral ramp leading up to the dome provides even further snap material.
6. Stedelijk, Amsterdam
While the museum’s original red-brick building has been renovated and given a curved white extension (part of which is underground) it’s the majestic staircase that steals the show. Complete with natural lighting and towering ceilings, you don’t just come here to gawp at Kandinsky, Picasso, Pollock and Mondrian.
7. Musée des Confluences, Lyon
Sitting on a manmade peninsula at the confluence of the Rhône and Saône rivers, this faceted steel and glass building has made Lyon a popular destination among lovers of futuristic architecture. Housing the city’s natural history museum, the state-of-the-art design continues inside, where different spaces are connected via eccentric bridge-like structures.
8. Belvedere, Vienna
While many visitors initially come to Belvedere to see Klimt’s “Kiss”, which sits alongside significant artworks of the Vienna Secession combined with contemporary installations, they soon find themselves in awe of the opulent architecture.
9. Zeitz Mocaa, Cape Town
The first major not-for-profit contemporary art museum dedicated to 21st-century art from Africa, Zeitz MOCAA is housed in a behemoth of a building carved out of a former grain silo. A gargantuan steel and concrete cathedral spans 9,500 square metres, reaching up nine floors and climaxing in a rooftop sculpture garden with views over the sprawling city and coastline.
10. Foundation Louis Vuitton, Paris
This dazzling centre for contemporary art and culture comes with a shell like no other – wrapped in dozens of glass forms, all differently angled and overlapping. Architect Frank Gehry couldn’t have created a more on-point look for the fashion house’s foundation?
11. British Museum, London
The two-acre foyer of the British Museum – the largest covered public square in Europe – and its glass and steel roof created out of 3,312 panes rival the collection of international art. Outside and within the quadrangle building, you’ll find more Instagram-material, such as the Weston Hall and reading room inspired by Ancient Greece.
12. Ragnarock Museum, Denmark
Unlike the minimalism we love about Scandinavia, the design of this museum for pop, rock and youth culture screams extravaganza. Inside and out, gold and bright-red panels cover the surface and walls, referencing outfits worn by rock stars.
Although rather small compared to other Paris galleries, this museum dedicated to symbolist painter Gustave Moreau meets all requirements for an Insta-worthy staircase.
14. Versailles, France
This Louis XIV symbol of absolute monarchy cannot fail to impress. Sparkling chandeliers, intricate frescoes, marble floors, gilt finishes and paintings from the masters will leave you wondering what to snap first. From the gardens to the Hall of Mirrors, you’re spoilt for choice.
15. Design Museum Holon, Israel
Adding to Tel Aviv‘s contemporary approach to architecture, the country’s first museum dedicated to design is a sculptural work in itself. Wrapping the two main galleries, steel layers in different hues of red are meant to embody Holon’s longstanding dedication to culture, design and education.
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