The 10 Best Art Museums in the US

You’t have to be an art connoisseur to appreciate the sheer beauty and awe-inspiring nature of a great work of art. The strokes of a brush, the use of colors, and the creativity behind each piece can captivate anyone. And what better way to truly immerse yourself in this world of artistic wonder than by visiting one of America’s top-notch museums?

With cutting-edge modern art galleries showcasing the latest trends and thought-provoking pieces, to long-standing cultural landmarks that hold centuries of history and tradition, the art museums in the United States offer a diverse and enriching experience for art enthusiasts and curious minds alike. From the iconic paintings that have shaped art history to contemporary installations pushing the boundaries of creativity, these museums house treasures that will leave you in awe.

So, whether you’re drawn to the classics or seek the excitement of contemporary art, our guide to the best art museums in the US will take you on a journey through the vibrant and ever-evolving world of artistic expression. Get ready to be inspired, enlightened, and captivated as you explore these cultural gems that celebrate the beauty and power of human creativity.

Who Should Visit Art Museums?

Art are truly inclusive spaces, welcoming individuals of all ages and backgrounds. Whether you are a passionate art lover, a history enthusiast seeking knowledge, or simply in search of a delightful day out, art museums have an abundance of offerings for everyone.

Immerse yourself in the captivating world of art and embark on a journey of cultural exploration as you delve into diverse traditions, time periods, and artistic styles. Moreover, many museums extend their reach beyond exhibitions, providing educational programs and interactive workshops suitable for all ages. This makes art museums an ideal destination for families, fostering creativity and curiosity in children while offering an enriching experience for everyone involved.

What to Expect from Art Museums

Art museums are home to a wide range of artwork, from paintings and sculptures to prints and photographs. Exhibitions can range from contemporary art to ancient artifacts, with each museum offering a unique experience. Most museums have permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, so there is always something new to see. Additionally, many museums have cafes, gift shops, and gardens for visitors to enjoy.

When to Visit Art Museums

Most art museums are open year-round, providing visitors with a consistent opportunity to indulge in the world of art. However, it’s worth noting that there may be occasional exceptions for holidays or special events. Therefore, it is always recommended to check the museum’s website before planning your visit, ensuring that you have the most up-to-date information regarding their hours of operation.

In addition to regular hours, it’s worth exploring the possibility of discounted or even free admission on certain days. Many museums offer promotions or special events that can enhance your experience. By researching and staying informed about these opportunities, you can make the most of your visit and fully immerse yourself in the artistic wonders that await you.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Museum Visit

To get the most out of your museum visit, it is important to plan ahead. Research the museum’s exhibitions and collections beforehand to see what interests you the most. If you are interested in learning more about a particular artist or style, consider taking a guided tour or attending a lecture. Additionally, be sure to take breaks throughout your visit and enjoy the museum’s amenities, such as cafes and gardens.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Art Museums

Visiting art museums can be a meaningful and enriching experience. Not only do they provide an opportunity to appreciate the beauty of artwork, but they also offer insights into history, culture, and humanity’s creative capabilities. Furthermore, museum visits are often educational and entertaining for all ages. However, it’s important to note that there may also be some undesirable factors, such as long lines and large crowds during popular exhibition periods.


  • Opportunity to see and appreciate world-renowned artwork
  • Educational experience for all ages
  • Can help promote creativity and inspiration
  • Provides a fun day out with friends or family


  • Crowded on weekends or during peak season
  • Admission fees can be expensive
  • Some exhibitions may not be suitable for all ages
  • Visitors may experience sensory overload from too much art in one day

A Comprehensive Step-by-Step Guide to Planning Your Museum Visit:

  1. Research: Begin by researching the museum you plan to visit. Look for information on the exhibits, special events, and any restrictions or guidelines you need to be aware of.
  2. Schedule: Determine the best date and time for your visit. Consider factors such as peak hours, crowd levels, and any timed-entry requirements.
  3. Tickets: Purchase your tickets in advance, if possible, to skip the lines and ensure availability. Check if there are any discounts or special offers available.
  4. Map Out Your Route: Take a look at the museum map and plan your route accordingly. Identify the exhibits or areas you’re most interested in and create a loose itinerary to maximize your time.
  5. Plan for Breaks: Keep in mind that museum visits can be physically and mentally exhausting. Plan for breaks and allocate time to rest, recharge, or grab a snack at the museum café.
  6. Dress Comfortably: Wear comfortable shoes and dress in layers, as museums can often be cool or warm depending on the exhibit halls. Consider bringing a small bag to carry essentials like water, snacks, and a camera.
  7. Special Exhibits or Events: Check if there are any special exhibits, guided tours, or events happening during your visit. Take note of their timings and plan accordingly to make the most of your experience.
  8. Follow Guidelines: Familiarize yourself with the museum’s rules and guidelines, such as photography restrictions, bag checks, and any specific protocols related to COVID-19.
  9. Engage and Explore: Once you’re at the museum, immerse yourself in the experience. Take your time to read exhibit descriptions, interact with displays, and ask questions to enhance your understanding and appreciation.
  10. Reflect and Share: After your visit, take a moment to reflect on your favorite exhibits or moments. Share your experience with others, whether through social media, conversations, or even writing a review to inspire fellow museum enthusiasts.

With this comprehensive step-by-step guide, you’ll be well-prepared to make the most of your museum visit and create lasting memories.

Tips for Visiting Art Museums

  • Plan ahead by researching the museum’s collections and exhibitions.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.
  • Take breaks throughout your visit to avoid sensory overload.
  • Pack snacks and water to stay hydrated.
  • Enjoy the museum’s amenities, such as cafes and gardens, throughout your visit.

TOP 10 Best Art Museums in the US

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, NY

The Met is not only the largest art museum in the US but also one of the three biggest in the world. Its permanent collection includes over 2 million works spanning 5,000 years of world culture. From Egyptian temples to European masterpieces, the diversity and depth of the Met’s holdings are unparalleled. Exhibitions bring in legendary works from around the globe. The iconic Beaux-Arts building is itself a work of art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City, NY

  • Location:
    • The Met Fifth Avenue: 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 100281000
    • The Met Cloisters: 99 Margaret Corbin Drive, Fort Tryon Park, New York, NY 10040
  • Hours: Sunday–Thursday: 10am–5:30pm & Friday–Saturday: 10am–9pm
  • Closed: Every Wednesday ; Thanksgiving Day, December 25, January 1, and the first Monday in May
  • Special Features: Temple of Dendur, Egyptian Art Galleries, American Wing, Arms & Armor, The Costume Institute

2. National Gallery of Art – Washington, D.C.

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery has free admission and houses over 150,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs and more. The West Building showcases works by European masters such as da Vinci, Rembrandt and Monet. The East Building focuses on modern art with works by Pollock, Rothko and others.

  • Location:
    • West Building: 6th St and Constitution Ave NW
    • East Building: 4th St and Constitution Ave NW
    • Sculpture Garden: 7th St and Constitution Ave NW
  • Hours: 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily
  • Closed: December 25 and January 1
  • Special Features: Only da Vinci painting in the Americas, Sculpture Garden, Degas’ Little Dancer


3. The Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, IL

The second largest art museum in the US, the Art Institute has about 300,000 works. The impressive permanent collection covers artifacts from around the world, including paintings by Seurat, O’Keeffe, Hopper and more. The Modern Wing expansion added more gallery space for 20th & 21st century art.

  • Location:
    • Michigan Avenue Entrance: 111 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60603
    • Modern Wing Entrance: 159 East Monroe Street, Chicago, IL 60603
  • Hours/Closed: Click for information
  • Special Features: Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Miniature Rooms, Chagall’s America Windows

4. Museum of Fine Arts, Houston – Houston, TX

With over 65,000 works, MFAH has one of the largest art collections in America. Art from all over the world is represented, from antiquities to today’s artists. Photography, decorative arts, textiles and more are all part of the broad scope. Frequent special exhibitions add to the experience.

  • Location: 1001 Bissonnet St, Houston, TX 77005
  • Hours/Closed: Click for information
  • Special Features: Da Vinci painting La Belle Ferronnière, African American art, Glassell School of Art

5. Los Angeles County Museum of Art – Los Angeles, CA

With a collection of over 150,000 pieces, LACMA hosts impressive works of art from ancient times to present day. African, Latin American, Islamic and Asian art are all featured. The Pavilion for Japanese Art is a must-see. Outdoor art includes Chris Burden’s Urban Light.

  • Location: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90036
  • Hours/Closed: Click for information
  • Special Features: Urban Light installation, Pavilion for Japanese Art, Ancient Latin American ceramics

6. Museum of Modern Art – New York City, NY

MoMA is considered one of the most influential modern art museums globally. The continuously growing collection contains almost 200,000 works showcasing modern creativity. Exhibits emphasize innovation in painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design and film.

  • Location: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
  • Hours: Sun–Fri, 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m/Sat, 10:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Special Features: Starry Night by Van Gogh, Campbell’s Soup Cans by Warhol, The Dance by Matisse

7. J. Paul Getty Museum – Los Angeles, CA

Located on a hilltop complex, the Getty’s collections are housed in pavilions designed to showcase the artwork. European paintings, sculptures and decorative arts from medieval to 19th century are highlights. Modern and contemporary photography adds 20th century pieces. The Central Garden is a living work of art.

  • Location: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049
  • Hours/Closed: Click for more information
  • Special Features: Irises by Van Gogh, A Self-Portrait by Rembrandt, Sculpture Garden

8. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – New York City, NY

The Guggenheim’s spiral architecture provides a distinctive backdrop for its 20th century artworks. Artists featured include Kandinsky, Picasso, Chagall, Pollack and more. Special exhibitions add to the modern and contemporary art on display.

  • Location: 1071 5th Ave, New York, NY 10128
  • Hours: Sunday–Friday 11 am–6 pm; Saturday 11 am–8 pm
  • Closed: September 3 and November 15. Closes 2:30 pm on October 28; November 23 (Thanksgiving) and December 25 (Christmas).
  • Special Features: The Building, Kandinsky Retrospective, Picasso’s Woman Ironing

9. Cleveland Museum of Art – Cleveland, OH

This gem houses over 45,000 pieces from around the world, from ancient to contemporary times. The collection includes art from Asia and Europe and has expansive holdings in Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities. The museum completed a major 4-year renovation and expansion in 2013.

  • Location: 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio 44106
  • Hours: Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday: 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m./Wednesday, Friday: 10:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Monday; November 23 (Thanksgiving) and December 25 (Christmas).
  • Special Features: One of the largest Rembrandt collections, Indian and Southeast Asian art

10. National Portrait Gallery – Washington, D.C.

Part of the Smithsonian Institution, this museum is dedicated entirely to portraiture. Photographs, paintings and sculptures represent people who have influenced America’s development and culture. Past and current political leaders, athletes, activists and more are featured.

  • Location: 8th St NW & G St NW, Washington, DC 20001
  • Hours: Open 7 days a week 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m.
  • Closed: Dec. 25
  • Special Features: America’s Presidents, First Ladies dresses, Rosa Parks section

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A. Are art museums expensive to visit?

Admission fees can vary depending on the museum, but many offer discounted or free admission on certain days. It is important to research the museum’s website beforehand to confirm their admission fees and any promotions.

A. Can I take photographs inside art museums?

Many museums allow photography in certain areas, but it is important to respect any restrictions or guidelines set by the museum. Additionally, flash photography may be prohibited in order to protect the artwork.

A. Are art museums suitable for children?

Many art museums offer educational programs and workshops for children of all ages. However, some exhibitions may not be suitable for all ages, so it is important to research the museum’s offerings beforehand.

A. How long does it take to visit an art museum?

The amount of time needed to visit an art museum can vary depending on the size of the museum and the visitor’s interests. It is recommended to plan for at least a few hours in order to fully appreciate the museum’s collections and exhibitions.

A. Can I bring food into art museums?

Many museums allow visitors to bring snacks and water, but it is important to check the museum’s guidelines beforehand. Some museums may also have cafes or restaurants on-site for visitors to enjoy.

A. Do art museums have gift shops?

Yes, many art museums have gift shops where visitors can purchase souvenirs and art-related items such as books, prints, and postcards.

A. Can I bring a backpack or large bag into an art museum?

Some museums may have restrictions on the size of bags allowed inside the galleries. It is recommended to check the museum’s website beforehand or leave large bags at home to avoid any issues.

A. Are audio guides available at art museums?

Many art museums offer audio guides that provide additional information about the artwork on display. Audio guides may be available for a fee or included in the museum admission price.

A. Can non-art enthusiasts still enjoy visiting art museums?

Absolutely! Art museums offer a variety of exhibitions and collections that can appeal to a wide range of interests. Additionally, many museums offer educational programs and interactive experiences that can enhance the visitor’s experience.

A. What should I wear when visiting an art museum?

There is no specific dress code for visiting art museums, but it is recommended to wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Some museums may have temperature-controlled galleries, so it is also suggested to bring an extra layer to stay comfortable.


Visiting art museums can be a great way to broaden your horizons and appreciate different forms of art from around the world. Before visiting, it is important to research the museum’s website in order to familiarize yourself with their admission fees, hours and special features. Additionally, art museums often provide audio guides and other interactive experiences that can make the visit more enjoyable. Whether you are an art enthusiast or simply want to explore a new destination, visiting art museums can be an enjoyable and educational experience.

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