One of my non-negotiables when traveling is visiting museums. Most of the people I’ve traveled with know this—it’s been an essential part of my itinerary ever since I started to venture out into exploring new places.
I still remember my first museum visit in Musee de Louvre 5 years ago. I had initially wanted to go to the Louvre (who wouldn’t?!), but we were on a tight schedule (tour problems tbh). Luckily, some of our tourmates wanted to go as well, so my sister and I tagged along with their family. The lines were long and we waited three hours in the cold to get in; coincidentally, I brought out a tiny journal and started drawing. That was also the first time I discovered my love for documenting my trips.
Above: my first ever travel journal spreads, 2013.
Anyway, back to the Louvre. Apart from seeing the famed Mona Lisa (which was small…and surrounded by so many tourists), I had goosebumps the whole time as I walked in the halls and saw different forms of art. We didn’t explore all floors but I managed to revisit in 2015, and I fangirled seeing a Monet painting on the third floor, among other things.
In the years that followed, I have associated my liking for art as I spent more time reading up on artists and people I generally look up to: Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet, Frida Kahlo, Yayoi Kusama, Juan Luna, Andy Warhol, etc. And because of this, I promised myself that I would be able to see their work in person someday. So far, I have seen most of them—but I’d like to see more and immerse myself further in the world of art.
Here’s a list of museums I’ve visited so far all over the world, which have become my favorites. A disclaimer though, I have criteria that I weigh in apart from the art collections per museum—such as location, architecture, and museum shop (lol #priorities). I also rounded up a list of museums I want to visit in the coming years…and months. If you find something that piques your interest, maybe you can add it to your list as well. Enjoy!
National Gallery of Singapore
Location: Singapore | http://www.nationalgallery.sg/
By default, NGS has been a staple because it’s the nearest one from Manila. Lol. Apart from that, I’ve always loved its architecture both inside and out. Also going to say their museum shop is a trap—lots of books and tastefully curated merch for you to hoard! There are also restaurants and a cafe inside the building, and the location is relatively near Raffles City (mall), beside City Hall MRT.
This museum just opened three years ago, but the variety of exhibitions here are amazing. I was able to see Yayoi Kusama’s Life is the Heart of a Rainbow (June 2017) and Century of Light (February 2018). Their permanent collection features Southeast Asian art (also works by Filipino artists) and do check out their ongoing exhibitions. They change every few months!
Also: get a glimpse inside the exhibitions I was able to see inside NGS below.
Location: Singapore | https://www.marinabaysands.com/museum.html
The ArtScience museum is a visual treat for both art and science lovers. As someone who is generally fascinated with all things art (by default) and science (particularly Physics and things about the universe), I loved the Future World exhibition. The architecture of ArtScience museum is shaped like a flower of sorts, and as you head to the escalator, you’ll see a display of sketches and behind the scenes of the museum’s construction (obvs I geeked out…photo below).
Catch their ongoing temporary and permanent exhibitions and be immersed in the different installations inside the museum. Loved the surrounding walls full of quotes on art and science!
Museum of Modern Art
Location: Manhattan, New York | https://www.moma.org
One of the most famous museums in the world—and for good reason. I was ecstatic entering the MoMA, partly because I am well-aware that the selection of paintings here are by my favorites. How does it feel walking into a room filled with works by Dali, Basquiat, Warhol, Kahlo, and Richtenstein, among others? Quite overwhelming, really. Not to mention a huge Waterlilies painting by Monet and a crowd favorite, Starry Night by Van Gogh welcoming you into one of the halls. My personal favorite was a special gallery dedicated to Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect responsible for the beautiful Guggenheim Museum.
Cross to the other side for the standalone MoMA store if you’re looking for unique items to take home. The MoMA store inside is pretty impressive too; I got a MoMA Highlights book as a souvenir (also a reason to read up more on modern art).
Whitney Museum of American Art
Location: Manhattan, New York | https://whitney.org/
I met up with my book editors on a weekday, and after lunch we went to the Whitney. Newly relocated at the end of the High Line, this museum is definitely hard to miss with its beautiful white architecture.
Featuring a selection of American art, there’s something worth seeing on every floor of the Whitney. Don’t miss the view on the top floor overlooking NYC, and get yourself some exclusive merch at the ground floor before leaving! Also, go up the High Line and spend some time exploring the area—Chelsea Market is right around the corner.
Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum
Location: Washington, DC | https://airandspace.si.edu/
First thing’s first, this museum has no entrance fee! But what drew me in more is the fact that it’s all about air and space—two things I love fondly. Airplanes and flights have always been special to me because I love traveling, and inside the museum is an in-depth look into the history of flight (from the Wright Brothers to Amelia Earhart to the different wars encompassing this period) and everything about space (and the concept of time). The interiors are reminiscent of being in a space facility, and the real remnants of airplane models are displayed are part of the museum’s interiors.
Also: my ephemera-loving self was so happy to see vintage packaging, posters, and a series of design work from airlines and different facets of air and space. Spent only an hour here (huhu) but I’ve already bookmarked this museum on my next trip to DC this September! I think I need a full day to see everything inside. #geekmode
Musee de Louvre
Location: Paris, France | https://www.louvre.fr/en
Housing a beautiful (and extensive) collection of European art from different time periods, the Louvre is a go-to museum for people visiting Paris. The highlight is of course, seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa amidst a crowd (because it’s always packed in that area) of visitors. Personally though, I found the other paintings more significant than the Mona Lisa.
Don’t miss the iconic triangular structure outside the Louvre, as well as the stores inside the building. There’s also a food court in case you go hungry. I forgot where exactly we commuted but the Metro isn’t far from the Louvre (and if you can, come early on a weekday!).
Location: Manila, Philippines | www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/
The first thing you’ll find as you enter the National Museum is the Spoliarium by national artist Juan Luna—a sight to see with its enormous size filling the room. In the different galleries are artworks, sculptures, and paintings by Filipino artists—all talented and amazing. Look for Fernando Amorsolo’s workspace which showcases his tools of the trade!
Also: Don’t miss the new wing of the National Museum! I haven’t seen it yet but I hope to visit again soon.
The National Art Center
Location: Tokyo, Japan | www.nact.jp/english/
One of my favorite modern architecture buildings! The National Art Center in Roppongi Hills is a visual treat—check their calendar for exhibitions before going. I got to see Yayoi Kusama’s My Eternal Soul (April 2017) in the NAC and it was such a memorable experience.
That’s it for my current roundup. Which ones did you add to your bucket list? 🙂
I feel like one of my life’s missions is to get to visit as many museums as I can, and take in all the beautiful art. I have an ongoing list, which I hope to complete (half???) this year. (Below)
- Neue Pinakothek (Munich, Germany)
- Buchstabenmuseum (Berlin, Germany)
- Bauhaus-Archiv / Museum für Gestaltung studies (Berlin, Germany)
- Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (Bilbao, Spain)
- Van Gogh Museum (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
- Musée d’Orsay (Paris, France)
- Guggenheim Museum (Manhattan, New York)
- New York Transit Museum (Manhattan, New York)
- MoMA PS1 (Queens, New York)
- Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago, Illinois)
- Museum of Science & Industry (Chicago, Illinois)
- Smithsonian National Postal Museum (Washington, DC)
- Smithsonian Institution Building (Washington, DC)
- Newseum (Washington, DC)
- Smithsonian American Art Museum & Renwich Gallery (Washington, DC)