Choose Your Destination: Best Vacation Spots for Art History Lovers

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As we are all in the full swing of summer and ready to explore, we look at the best destinations to visit for art history lovers during vacation. Get ready to add to your bucket list of travel!

Destination: Italy

Italy, as a whole, provides a great destination for art history fans, but two cities in particular stand out in terms of places to visit for some of the best art in the world.

Florence

destination florence -The Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
Art Vacation: Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy. Photo by Михаил Бернгардт via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Argued by many historians as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the beauty of the city of Florence is not just in the specific artworks but in the city as a whole. Just wandering the streets and appreciating the architecture reveals hidden and secret spots. The sunsets here are also some of the best in the world. Below is listed the must-sees for art lovers in Florence:

Uffizi Gallery – This museum is a must-see and one of the best galleries in the world by far, including highlights by Sandro Botticelli, Caravaggio, and Titian.

Accademia Gallery – Here you can see the famous Michelangelo’s David, among many other Renaissance treasures.

Palazzo Strozzi – This beautiful building provides a more modern collection of art, equally impressive as those above. For example, they currently have a pioneering exhibition on American art from the 1960s onwards.

The Brunelleschi Dome – Created by famous Renaissance architect and artist Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome of the cathedrak is the spot for magnificent views of the city, of Tuscany, and beyond.

destination art history florence -Florence Duomo, Tuscany, Italy.
Art Vacation: Filippo Brunelleschi, Florence Duomo, Florence, Italy. Photo by Petar Milošević via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Rome

Another art history paradise in the country of Italy is Rome. Whilst Florence is laid back, the hustle and bustle of Rome is exciting and dynamic in a different way. Home to arguably some of the most famous Renaissance artworks, including the decoration of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, you could easily combine Florence and Rome for the ultimate art history field trip. Some highlights in Rome are:

Vatican Museums – These are something that you have to see, which include Raphael’s School of Athens and Michelangelo’s decoration of The Sistine Chapel (make sure you book ahead for this).

Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, 1512, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Vatican City.
Art Vacation: Michelangelo, The Creation of Adam, 1512, Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museums, Vatican City. Wikipedia Commons (public domain).

St. Peter’s Basilica – Also located in the Vatican, the famous church is well worth a visit.

Santa Maria del Popolo – This beautiful and ornate church houses hidden works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, among others. Specifically, the chance to see artworks in a more natural habitat than a gallery is a great experience.

art history painting -The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, Caravaggio, 1601, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, Italy
Art Vacation: Caravaggio, The Crucifixion of Saint Peter, 1601, Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome, Italy.

The Santa Maria in Trastevere – This church, supposedly built as early as 350 AD, holds a beautiful mosaic altar worth seeing.

Destination: France

Paris

With so many galleries to choose from, dotted throughout the famous city of love, it is hard to narrow down the list of destinations within Paris, but here are some absolute must-sees.

Louvre – Needless to say, the Mona Lisa is why a lot of people flock here! But there is so much more. You can also enjoy the famous pyramid and beautiful Tuileries Gardens surrounding the museum or absorb the Parisian air and architecture.

destination art history paris -The Louvre, Paris, France
Art Vacation: Louvre, Paris, France. Photo by Alvesgaspar via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Musée d’Orsay – For impressionist lovers looking to see one of the biggest collections in the world, here is your place.

Centre Pompidou – This museum features lots of upcoming modern art, exhibitions, and performances.

Musée de L’Orangerie – This gallery is a favorite and also one of the most peaceful spots in the busy and crowded city. Located in the Tuileries Gardens, you are submerged into a Monet paradise and able to get up close and personal with the famous Waterlilies.

Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, France
Art Vacation: Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, France. Photo by Brady Brenot via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

On the topic of Monet, a train or bus ride out of Paris will take you to Monet’s Garden and House, located in Giverny, and it is arguably one of the most beautiful places to visit in the area as well.

Destination: USA

We cannot forget United States when listing the best destinations to get your hit of art history discoveries. Whilst New York might have more to offer, Washington also provides a huge amount for art lovers.

New York

destination art history New York -The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, USA
Art Vacation: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA. Photo by Hugo Schneider via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – With a renowned reputation worldwide, the museum is located in Central Park and holds some of the most esteemed artworks in the world.

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum -– The unique layout of this museum, far from a conventional gallery space, holds treasures of modern art for the viewer to behold.

Museum of Modern Art – Often shortened to MoMA, people flock here each year to see the masterpieces of the likes of Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and Monet’s Waterlilies.

The Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh, 1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA
Art Vacation: Vincent van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, USA.

Washington, DC

Washington’s National Gallery of Art – Boasting one of the most impressive collections in the US, the gallery holds a fascinating range of artworks, from Louise Bourgeois’s sculptures to Leonardo da Vinci‘s portrait of Ginevra de’Benci – one of the Renaissance genius’ best works.

Ginevra de' Benci, Leonardo da Vinci, 1474-1478, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C., USA
Art Vacation: Leonardo da Vinci, Ginevra de’ Benci, 1474-1478, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA.

The Smithsonian American Art Museum – Equally fascinating is the Smithsonian, which provides an enigmatic and energetic submersion into color and light.

Destination: Spain

Spain offers so much for art lovers; from the beautiful architecture of Antoni Gaudí to the cobbled streets filled with character, there are so many opportunities to appreciate the beauty of Barcelona. Equally, Madrid boasts numerous museums worth visiting.

Barcelona

destination Barcelona -Detail of the facade of The Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain
Art Vacation: Detail of the facade of The Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain. Photo by Brianza2008 via Wikipedia Commons (CC0).

Sagrada Família – If you are travelling to Barcelona, you cannot miss this! The grand and imposing structure of the basilica is the work of genius Antoni Gaudí, whose structural masterpieces can also be spotted around the city as a whole. An interesting fact about the basilica is that work on it was begun in 1882, and the construction work still continues today!

Museu Picasso – This museum offers an outstanding collection of Picasso‘s artworks, from early drawings to later paintings, including the notable series Las Meninas. Set in the beautiful setting of the Career de Montcada, make sure to add this to your list if you are in the city.

National Art Museum of Catalonia (MNAC) – The museum provides, along with a beautiful view of the city below, a summary of Catalan art from as early as the 12th century. Definitely add this to your destination list.

Madrid

The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain
Art Vacation: Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, Spain. Wikipedia Commons (CC0).

Museo Nacional del Prado – This museum holds the largest collections of the works of artists such as Titian, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez and other great masters. It reflects the great collection amassed by the Spanish Monarchy and dates back around 200 years.

art history destination Madrid -The Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, Spain
Art Vacation: Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum, Madrid, Spain. Photo by Kyle Magnuson via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum – Housed in what was once an aristocratic mansion, this museum has artworks that you would instantly recognize by the artists Monet, Picasso, and Rembrandt, among others. With these paintings from art history placed amongst pop art pieces and modern installations, the variety is what makes this museum so unique.

Destination: UK

Whilst London is immediately assumed as the destination for art history lovers, the English countryside also holds impressive collections nestled away in beautiful heritage houses across the country.

London

The National Gallery – Rated the eighth most visited art museum in the world, London’s National Gallery has a collection so large that even if you have visited before, you always spot something new. With free admission, it is a must-see if you are in London for paintings dating from the 13th century.

Tate Modern – Just walking up to the Tate Modern, the views of the old Power Station that has been transformed into a large collection of modern and contemporary art are impressive. With views of the Thames, the gallery offers the chance to see artworks such as Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych.

destination london -The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, England
Art Vacation: The Turbine Hall, Tate Modern, London, UK. Photo by Hans Peter Schaefer via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Victoria and Albert Museum – This museum offers a real variety of objects to enjoy, and has a permanent collection of over 2.27 million. It has a fascinating range of textiles, architecture, furniture, paintings, jewellery, ceramics, and much more. Be aware, you will need a good few hours to see it all! It also has a stunning art library pictured below.

art history library - The Art Library, The Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
Art Vacation: The Art Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK. Photo by Junho Jung via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0).

English Countryside

The Tate St Ives – If you have travelled right to the bottom of England, to stunning Cornwall, the Tate Gallery in St Ives is worth a visit. With beautiful sea views overlooking Porthmeor Beach, it includes modern artworks by the likes of Mark Rothko and Barbara Hepworth. The Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Gallery, also in St Ives, is an intimate look into the life and works of the English artist and sculptor.

destination st ives -Sphere with Inner Form, Barbara Hepworth, 1963, The Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall, England
Art Vacation: Barbara Hepworth, Sphere with Inner Form, 1963, The Barbara Hepworth Museum, St Ives, Cornwall, UK. Photo by Rowena Ford via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge – Located in the beautiful city of Cambridge, the Fitzwilliam holds an impressive collection of artworks from a range of periods.

Chatsworth House – Nestled away in rural Derbyshire is one of the largest and most significant collections of art in the UK. Each Duke who inhabited this Palladian structure of a house added to the significant collection of art, which has now amassed to a huge size.

Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, England
Art Vacation: Chatsworth House, Derbyshire, UK. Photo by Rob Bendall via Wikipedia Commons (Attr.).

Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery – Birmingham Museums Trust has the most prestigious collection of Pre-Raphaelite art in the world, holding over 3000 objects from this period. This quintessential British Museum should be on the list for anyone searching for great art in the UK, making it the perfect destination.

Turner Contemporary – Another seaside gem, the Turner Contemporary gallery is only 10 years old but has built up a reputation of one of the best in the UK. Celebrating the work of J. M. W. Turner, an English Romantic artist, the gallery also showcases work by upcoming artists who continue to be inspired by Turner’s legacy.

destination England -Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, England
Art Vacation: Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, UK. Photo by Benjamin Baker via Wikipedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0).

So whether you are planning a trip soon, as restrictions continue to lift around the world, or if you are simply fantasizing about the future, there is endless art out there to see. From modern works to some of the oldest and most treasured canvases ever created, there are overwhelming amounts of opportunities to learn about art history whilst on your travels.


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Choose Your Destination: Best Vacation Spots for Art History Lovers was first posted on August 13, 2021 at 5:00 pm.
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