Thanks to artists, art collectors, donors, and government funds, exploring the world of art has never been more accessible in America. Art museums are not just venues where we can peruse paintings, artifacts, and sculptures; these museums also tell the stories of the past, present, and future – places that allow our imagination and creativity to soar.
Ready to explore the art museums in America? Here are 10 we recommend:
1. Smithsonian American Art Museum
The Smithsonian has 11 museums and galleries in DC, six museums and the National Zoo outside of DC and two museums in New York City.
Go to Washington DC for the nation’s first collection of American art at Smithsonian America Art Museum. It is also home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Browse through early American art, 19th century, 20th century, contemporary art, and more.
2. Metropolitan Museum of Art
Did you know the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has three locations? The Met Fifth Avenue, Met Breuer, and Met Cloisters. The Met Cloisters is dedicated to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. The Met Breuer is a museum for modern and contemporary art.
Met Fifth Avenue is the largest museum in the US, featuring over two million artwork from around the world. This iconic institution located by Central Park and Fifth Avenue is a five-story Beaux-Arts building with over two million square feet of interior space. Find the world’s most renowned artwork, from ancient times to the present at the Met.
3. Art Institute of Chicago
Since 1891 when Bertha and Potter Palmer acquired 20 paintings by Monet, the Art Institute of Chicago has kept up with the collection by this French artist. Today the Art Institute of Chicago has the most extensive collection of Monet’s painting outside of Paris, with 33 paintings and 13 drawings by the artist.
Besides a space dedicated to Monet’s art, the Art Institute of Chicago is best known for Grant Wood’s American Gothic, The Bedroom by Van Gogh, and Nighthawks by Edward Hopper.
4. MassArt Art Museum
MassArt Art Museum in Boston is the newest art museum in the US. This contemporary art museum is a non-collecting museum (Kunsthalle), meaning there are no permanent exhibitions.
It’s a teaching museum, and there’s also a creative lab where visitors can participate in creating their artwork.
5. Salvador Dali Museum
The Dali Museum in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida, has the largest collection of Dali’s art outside of Spain. There are over 2,400 pieces of his work, which include 300 oil paintings, watercolors and drawings, and 2,100 prints, textiles, photographs, sculptures and posters.
Most of the art pieces were privately owned by A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse until the mid-1970s when the couple donated the entire collection to the people of St. Petersburg.
6. Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum has over 1.5 million works housed in the 560,000 square feet Neo-classical revival style building in Brooklyn, one of the boroughs of New York City.
Some of the famous pieces include Woman in Gray by Picasso, Standing Woman, a sculpture by Gaston Lachaise, and about 140 objects about Coney Island.
7. Dallas Museum of Art
The sprawling Dallas Museum of Art houses over 24,000 works from Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas spanning 5,000 years. It is one of the ten largest art museums in the US. Some of the must-see art pieces are Snowscape with Barn by Jonas Wood, Sheaves of Wheat by Van Gogh, and For a Dreamer of Houses.
8. Detroit Institute of Arts Museum
Since opening in 1927, the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum has been showcasing some of the most iconic art pieces in America. There are over 100 galleries with 65,000 artwork, but among the most interesting are the murals by Mexican muralist Diego Rivera. Diego Rivera illustrated the four walls with 27 paintings portraying the geological, technological, and human history of Detroit.
Among the prized possessions are Self Portrait by Van Gogh, The Conversation of the Magdalene by Caravaggio and Judith and Her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes by Gentileschi.
9. Cleveland Museum of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is considered one of the top art museums in America. The museum has 100 images of Marilyn Monroe presented by Andy Warhol, stained glass lamps by Louis Comfort Tiffany, and over 61,000 unique pieces from around the world.
10. Philadelphia Museum of Art
Besides having 240,000 pieces of art spanning 2,000 years, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has a 14th century Buddhist Temple, a one-acre outdoor sculpture garden, and an impressive collection of suits of armor.