So, you decide to visit Europe and you happen to be an art freak who loves art; perhaps specifically European art history. Even complete art noobs will enjoy a stroll through the rich and historic halls of museums that stand as testament to where we were and what brought us here.
Europe’s 3rd Best Art Museum – The Guggenheim
Standing in Bilbao, Spain, the magnificent ‘work of art’ starts you of with a treat right from the outside. The edifice itself is a sight to admire. The work of celebrated architect Frank Gehry, the words ‘contemporary museum building’ always brings up the Guggenheim.
At 256,000 square feet, this relatively young museum (opened in 1997) has some outstanding permanent collections that are the envy of museums the world over. You will most certainly find works by Andy Warhol, Mark Rothko, and Richard Serra inside.
Some of the best traveling exhibits come around to this museum, courtesy the Guggenheim Foundation. Though it has become quite full, the day Spain’s Guggenheim opened saw the museum enjoying more space than its Venice and New York counterparts do.
Called ‘the greatest building of our time’ by architect Philip Johnson, this is one of the best art museums to visit in Europe.
Europe’s 2nd Best Art Museum – The Vatican Museum
Perhaps rumours of a vast art and history treasure being hoarded by secretive higher officials in the Vatican has drawn great interest to what this holy place could be hiding underneath its foundations. Be that as it may, you are certain to get lost in wonder and beauty as you stroll through the Holy See’s museum.
The Roman Catholic Church has collected Art and antiquities for centuries. Currently over 500 years old, the Vatican Museum in Rome, Italy, was opened to the public by Pope Julius II who commemorated the historic event in 1506 and when he placed a Laocoon and his Sons sculpture on exhibit.
As more and more collections came out into the light, more and more buildings merged until one extensive museum was the result. Egyptian and Etruscan artifacts (art from the past) are also on display thanks to Vatican-sponsored archeological excavations.
The walls themselves are art history. Two the more familiar works include Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel (the chapel’s ceiling is the focus) and Raphael’s Stanze della Segnatura.
Europe’s Ultimate Art Museum – The Louvre
Few museums have been more celebrated, quoted, referenced, lauded, and used as sources of creativity like France’s very own ‘La Louvre’. One of the most gorgeous and popular of them all, this is also the world’s largest museum; spread across 650,000 square feet.
Ever since Philip II constructed a fortress on the very site, the edifice became part of French history and culture all the way from the 12th century to date. The evolution of the building saw to it transforming into a grand palace that housed the royal family. Then, Sun King Louis XIV chose to shift (in 1682) to a new home, namely the Palace of Versailles.
The royal collection was on display in The Louvre after that. Greek and Roman sculpture was also exhibited, and let’s not forget ‘The Mona Lisa’ (one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s greatest most culturally influential masterpieces).
When the French Revolution encouraged the National Assembly to officially declare the building a museum, its collections grew to an enormous extent. 1792 had come and Louis XVI was imprisoned, after which the Louvre’s royal collection became public property and was open for viewing the following year.
Today, La Louvre is the proud owner of more than 380,000 objects dating from prehistory to modernity. Even the glass pyramid (designed by American architect Leoh Ming Pei; finished in 1989) stood outside is part of history and has earned its fair share of controversy.
You cannot think ‘Paris’ without recalling ‘La Louvre’.