Choose Your Destination: Best Vacation Spots for Art History Lovers
min Read30 June 2022
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 for holidays. Get ready to add these places to your travel bucket list!
1. 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.
Argued by many historians as the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, the beauty 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 secret spots. The sunsets here are also some of the best in the world. Below you have the must-sees for art lovers in Florence:
Palazzo Strozzi – This beautiful building provides a more modern collection of art, equally impressive as those above.
The Brunelleschi Dome – Created by famous Renaissance architect and artist Filippo Brunelleschi, the dome of the cathedral is the spot for magnificent views of the city, Tuscany, and beyond.
Another art history paradise in the country of Italy is Rome. Whilst Florence can be considered laid back by some, the hustle and bustle of Rome cannot be missed, in fact, the two cities are exciting and dynamic in different ways. 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 you must see, they host incredible artworks, including Raphael’s School of Athens and Michelangelo’s decoration of The Sistine Chapel (make sure you book ahead for this).
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 works by Raphael, Caravaggio, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, among others. It is a chance to see artworks in a more natural habitat than in a gallery and it is a great experience.
The Santa Maria in Trastevere – This church, supposedly built as early as 350 AD, holds a beautiful mosaic altar worth seeing.
2. Destination: France
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 and surround yourself with the Parisian air and architecture.
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. It is located in the Tuileries Gardens. Inside you are submerged into a Monet paradise and able to get up close and personal with the famous Waterlilies.
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.
3. Destination: USA
We cannot forget the United States when listing the best destinations to get your hit of art history discoveries. Whilst many think that New York might have more to offer, Washington also provides great places for art lovers.
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.
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’ sculptures to Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Ginevra de’Benci – one of the Renaissance genius’ best works.
The Smithsonian American Art Museum – Equally fascinating is the Smithsonian, which provides an enigmatic and energetic submersion into color and light.
4. 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.
Sagrada Família – If you are traveling 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 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.
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.
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. These iconic paintings from art history are placed amongst Pop Art pieces and modern installations, the variety is what makes this museum so unique.
5. 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.
The National Gallery – Rated the eighth most visited art museum in the world, London’s National Gallery has such a large collection 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. The gallery offers the chance to see artworks such as Andy Warhol’s famous Marilyn Diptych.
Victoria and Albert Museum – This museum offers a real variety of objects to enjoy and has a permanent collection of over 2.27 million objects. It has a fascinating range of textiles, architecture, furniture, paintings, jewelry, 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.
The Tate St Ives – If you have traveled right to the bottom of England, to the 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.
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 house added to the significant collection of art, which has now amassed to a huge size.
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 as 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.
So whether you are planning a trip soon or if you are simply fantasizing about the future, there are endless artworks 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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