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.
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.
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 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
Hi, I’m Kemp Alexander and I’m an adventurous travel blogger. I’m a passionate explorer who loves discovering new cultures, experiencing unique customs, and capturing my journeys through stories. Whether it’s trekking through the mountains of Thailand or eating local delicacies in South America, every journey is an opportunity to uncover something new. I’m a vibrant traveler with a knack for capturing the beauty of each destination in all forms: visually, mentally, emotionally. Through my blog I take readers on unforgettable trips to far-off places around the world while providing helpful insight for their own journeys. Follow me on my incredible adventures!