I believe it’s destiny to come across some great piece of art, famous or not, and be touched with its deep essence. How can you actually appreciate art under the pressure of time and a tense itinerary? Stick to your plan: do a shopping spree and take a city tour at your metropolitan destinations; no attempt is needed to find world-class art galleries and museums lying beside a series of skyscrapers and bustling traffic. Some host numerous collections of classic paintings that you have met only in textbooks or social memes, while others house contemporary arts that provoke your thoughts and juggle with your emotions. However, it’s worth it for you to spend a while peeking inside one of them.
New York – The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Met is the must, I will say, as it is the largest museum and art gallery of the United States, and one of the most visited in the world. The Metropolitan Museum of Art contains over two million masterpieces and invaluable antiques from classical antiquity, ancient Egypt and medieval Europe, all curated into 17 art zones. The African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, Indian, and Islamic arts showcased here will stun you with their vast quantity and best quality. You can find its main building situated on the eastern edge of Central Park among a museum venue called Museum Mile, prominent with its flamboyant façade and staircases, which is regarded as a landmark on Fifth Avenue.
Pieter Bruegel the Elder’s The Harvesters
Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with Straw Hat
Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates
Johannes Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher
Goya’s Manuel Osorio Manrique de Zuñiga
Édouard Manet’s Boating
Jackson Pollock’s Autumn Rhythm (Number 30)
Paris – The Louvre
Once a royal fortress, The Lourve was decreed as a national museum during the French Revolution. Through countless restorations and expansions, the present appearance of the museum was finalised since the emergence of The Grand Pyramids guarding the entrance in the central courtyard, which is surrounded by three wings of the main building. Apart from the majestic panorama of the Seine on the south side of the museum, collections of classical antiques, decorative arts, sculptures, paintings, prints and drawings from various civilisations sectioned into eight departments will fulfil your trip to Paris, leaving you with an idea to revisit the world’s largest museum as soon as possible.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa
Winged Victory of Samothrace
Venus de Milo
Eugène Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People
Law Code of Hammurabi
London – The National Gallery
Once you exit The Mall out of Buckingham Palace to the spectacular fountain at the centre of Trafalgar Square, you will see The National Gallery of London stands loftily adjacent to the church of St. Martin-in-the-fields. The marvellous dome and neo-classical façade will lure you to take some photos before entering into an even fancier world. Inside, you’ll be astonished by a collection of over 2,300 paintings completely showing major developments in the history of Western arts. The gallery is charitable, first established by citizens and for citizens (and non-citizens) to visit it without any charge. Spare your time, not your money, and indulge yourself in the tides of classical aesthetic, offered for free.
Johannes Vermeer’s A Young Woman standing at a Virginal
Georges Seurat’s Bathers at Asnières
Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers
Hans Holbein the Younger’s The Ambassadors
Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin of the Rocks
Sandro Botticelli’s Venus and Mars
Rome – Sistine Chapel & Vatican Museums
Classical arts were much influenced by religions; many portray scenes from The Holy Book and have been decorated inside famous sacramental monasteries. So you can be assured to find one of the largest stores of renowned classical sculptures and masterpieces from the Renaissance Era here at this major domain of Christianity, Vatican City. The series of Vatican museums was first established in the early 16th century, routing through 54 galleries, which host over 20,000 pieces on display and 70,000 pieces on stock. The highlight is the Sistine Chapel, in which the Pope’s Election takes place, displaying one of the most exquisite murals and ceiling paintings in the history of arts.
Bramante & Giuseppe Momo’s The Spiral Staircase
Raphael’s The Transfiguration
Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus’s Laocoön and His Sons
Raphael’s The School of Athens
Michaelangelo’s The Creation of Adam
Amsterdam – Rijksmuseum
Though the national museum of the Netherlands stores over one million artifacts from the 13th to the 21st century, only 8,000 of them is now exhibited. But that is still a large enough number to attract more than 2.2 million visitors a year, ranking as the most visited museum in the country. With its own lengthy history, Rijksmuseum towers high and graciously at the Museum Square, boasting the Dutch architecture among other younger, neighbour museums like Van Gogh Museum and the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Do not miss to appreciate the recently renovated section of the controversial large arc and its passageway, which is friendly for both pedestrians and cyclists.
Rembrandt’s Night Watch
Johannes Vermeer’s Milkmaid
Vincent Van Gogh’s Self-portrait
Bartholomeus van der Helst’s Banquet at the Crossbowmen’s Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Münster
Jan Willem Pieneman’s The Battle of Waterloo
St. Petersburg – The State Hermitage Museum
The Soviet Union was one of the most influential nations of the world, and that may explain why The State Hermitage Museum, the world-famous museum of art and culture in Saint Petersburg, contains over three million objects in stock and the largest collection of paintings in the world. Five of six buildings of the museum are open to the public, holding arts from Egyptian and classical antiquities, along with prehistoric arts, jewellery and decorative arts, Renaissance, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, and Russian arts, featuring those of legendary masters of each movement. You can get free admission on every first Thursday of the month, and don’t forget to play with an army of comely cats living there, which is well known as the Hermitage Cats.
Michelangelo’s Crouching Boy
Raphael’s Madonna Conestabile
Leonardo da Vinci’s The Madonna Litta and The Benois Madonna
Statues of Atlantes
Tokyo – Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
Surrounded by the lush greenery and fresh air of Ueno Park, Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum becomes the spacious public space for urbanites who love art. Its two-storey-high modern Japanese building with three underground floors hosts numerous exhibitions, taking turns to display various works of art from classical to contemporary in order to make arts more approachable to locals. The museum also urges amateur artists and students to use the space as a first stage for their ideas and creativity, so you can find the museum will always be occupied with showcases, art meetings, and activities.
Taipei – National Palace Museum
Walking through the roofs and columns of Chinese archways into an expansive oriental garden is a heavenly experience. Taipei’s National Palace Museum boasts its beauty through Chinese architecture, inviting you to explore its vast collection of Chinese artifacts within. It has a permanent exhibition of almost 700,000 pieces covering an 8,000-year-long history of Chinese art from the Neolithic age. You will be amazed with Chinese antiques, statues of worship, invaluable paintings, calligraphy, and a library of rare tomes and manuscripts which had been gathered by Chinese emperors from generations.
Giuseppe Castiglione’s One Hundred Horses
The remake of Along the River During the Qingming Festival
Chen Zuzhang’s Boat Carved from an Olive Stone
Jadeite Cabbage & Meat-shaped Stone
Melbourne – National Gallery of Victoria
The humongous building of National Gallery of Victoria towering high in the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the most visited museum in Australia. It is home to international art collections encompassing paintings, fashion and textiles, photography, prints and drawings, decorative arts, sculptures, and antiquities from various regions around the world. A semi-circular entrance looks like a tiny hole to the massive grey brick walls, welcoming visitors to the world of unlimited arts. You can also find a temporary exhibition or two, and enjoy contemporary arts from local and foreign artists.
Tom Roberts’ Shearing the Rams
Frederick McCubbin’s The Pioneer
Nicolas Poussin’s The Crossing of the Red Sea
Claude Monet’s Vétheuil
Jan van Eyck’s Ince Hall Madonna
Bangkok – Bangkok Art & Culture Centre
Situated in the bustling area of Siam Square, the white hall of Bangkok Art & Culture Centre stores plenty of contemporary art exhibitions, shops, restaurants, auditoriums, and an art library. Numbers of paintings, deco arts, and installation arts are displayed along the corridors which encircle the interior of 3rd floor upwards, and are one of the highlights here. Events like film screenings, performance arts festivals, and academic seminars are usually held in auditoriums and its surrounding areas, making this place to be more than an ordinary art gallery.
Singapore – National Gallery Singapore
The building of City Hall and the Supreme Court of Singapore has recently been turned into the National Gallery in 2015, easily approached by taking SMRT to St. Andrews Road. The gallery hosts artistic evidence of the nation’s glory, conveying the stories of Singapore and other countries from Southeast Asian region through paintings, sculptures, calligraphies, and installation arts, mingling between historical pieces and contemporary works. Under the neo-classical dome, visitors could have a break at the cafés and restaurants provided in the Garden Gallery section, or participate in some workshops which inspire the artist within you.