Today, a museum exists for every type of traveler—art historian, fashionista, movie buff, history nerd. It’s just a question of knowing where to go. Be they about contemporary painting, ancient folk art, or mid-century design, cherished museums and art galleries around the world connect the masses to individual slices of culture. Regardless of whether you visit alone or with a group, museums and art galleries spark meaningful interaction with a destination, allowing you to leave better informed than when you arrived.
The best museums feature well-curated selections in addition to a fluid design, allowing visitors to wander at their own pace through the exhibits and installations. If checking out a local art exhibit is high on your list, this is your ultimate resource. Our correspondents and editors are always on the road, vetting newly opened art galleries and speaking to local artists about their hometown and creating guides that yield practical tips on when to visit, as well as up-to-date information on new shows and gallery openings. Use our guides to explore emerging art neighborhoods, as well as make informed choices about which art galleries are worth your time.
There’s no subject too small or too trivial to warrant its own museum. From London to Madrid, world-class institutions chart mankind’s cultural evolution through the lens of art, archaeology, fashion, music, literature, and science. Traveling with the kids? Look for museums that will capture your whole family’s imagination, whether it’s an anime gallery in Tokyo or 3.5-billion-year-old fossils at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C.
Museums cater to transportation buffs, too: an 872-foot-long WWII aircraft carrier in New York, for example, or an airplane museum in Europe’s aviation capital, Toulouse, France. Consider yourself a car lover? Automobile museums around the world showcase historic—not to mention drop-dead gorgeous—vehicles by well-known manufacturers throughout Europe and the U.S.
For a more unconventional experience, seek out those truly odd museums—like the underwater sculpture museum in the Canary Islands or a gallery of toilet seats in Texas—that challenge the concept of what a museum should be. Nontraditional museums, like New York’s medieval Cloisters Museum and Gardens, or Turkey’s hair museum, offer a fun side attraction, and make excellent topics of conversation when you return home.