European Art Museums

These are the most Famous European Art Museums in Europe, recognized by their size and number of visitors, as well as for the importance of the pieces of art in their collections. There are museums of art in the old continent where there is the greatest concentration of Museums of Art in the World




Musee du Louvre Paris, France

Musee du Louvre Paris, France


What was once a fortified palace home to kings of France is today the world’s most famous museum, recognized for the amount of the finest pieces of art including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

It is a central landmark in the Capital of France, located on the right bank of the River Seine in the First arrondissement or borough. It proudly features around 35,000 pieces dating from pre historic times to the 21st century all in an area over 60,000 sq meters. It is visited by 8 million people a year.

The Louvre as it expanded needed more space and it was decided to move out of its premises the Ministry of Finance which had occupied the Richelieu wing for more than a century. Anyway the museum had many entrances and it was difficult for the visitors to find their way.

President Francois appointed the Chinese born American architect I. M. Pei to modernize the Louvre and integrate the different wings. Pei suggested excavating the Cour Napoléon or central courtyard, and to create a subterranean entrance hall, the Hall Napoléon, with access to the three different wings and space for shops, restaurants and other amenities.

After many considerations it was decided to build the glass pyramid which had lots of opposition at the beginning but it’s widely accepted today.




European Art Museums

Vatican Museums Vatican City, Rome, Italy

Vatican Museums Vatican City, Rome, Italy


The Vatican Museums is also one of the most famous art museums in the world.

Owned by the Catholic Church this immense museum  visited by more than 5 million people a year hosts arts by Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, an Michelangelo with the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel being his most renowned work.

Musei Vaticani, in Italian, is located in one of the smallest independent states in the world the Vatican City, all within the boundaries of the City of Rome, Italy. Pope Julius II founded the museums in the early 16th century.

The Sistine Chapel with its ceiling decorated by Michelangelo and the Stanze della Segnatura decorated by Raphael are on the visitor route through the Vatican Museums.

It celebrated its 500th anniversary in 2006 by opening the excavations of a Vatican Hill necropolis to the public.

European Art Museums


Museo del Prado Madrid, Spain

Museo del Prado Madrid, Spain

This one together with the Louvre is one of my loved museums. For business reasons we went to Madrid tens of times during many decades and always found some time to spend in the Prado Museum.

One of the most fantastic collections of art in the world, this museum is famous for art by Spanish artists such as Goya, Murillo, Velasquez and El Greco. The best known work by Velasquez is “Las Meninas” and by Goya “La Maja Desnuda”.

It is one of the most famous art museums in the world and of course, considered one of the greatest with one of the world’s finest collections of art from the 12th to the 19th centuries.

It was designed by architect Juan Villanueva in 1785 ordered by King Carlos III to house the National History Cabinet. Years later his grandson King Fernando VII and his wife Queen Maria Isabel de Braganza decided to use it as a Royal Museum and later the Museo del Prado opened to the public for the first time in 1819.


European Art Museums

Galleria degli Uffizi Florence, Italy

Galleria degli Uffizi Florence, Italy

The building of this palace that today hosts the Uffizi Gallery began in 1560 by Giorgio Vasari of the Medici family. It is one of the oldest museums of the world. The works were continued by Alfonso Parigi and Bernardo Buontalenti and ended in 1581.

Uffizi Gallery in English, features many works by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. It was officially opened to the public in 1765.

Because the form of the narrow construction and the lack of space many pieces of art have been transferred to other Florence museums. But now since 2006 there is a project to expand the actual building from 6,000 sq meters to 13,000 sq meters, thus allowing more space to accommodated the many pieces of art that have been in storage.

Today, the Uffizi is one of the most famous art museums in the world is a a popular tourist attraction in Florence.

In high season, in July, waiting time to enter could reach up to five hours. Those purchasing their tickets in advance may reduce the waiting time substantially.


European Art Museums


The Great Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia

The Great Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Russia


State Hermitage Museum St Petersburg, Russia

The collection of the State Hermitage of St PetersburgRussia, includes more than three million works of art and artifacts of the world culture. Among them are paintings, sculptures, graphic works, and works of applied art, archaeological finds and numismatic material.

The main architectural ensemble of the Hermitage situated in the centre of St Petersburg consists of the Winter Palace, the former state residence of the Russian emperors, the buildings of the Small, Old and New Hermitages, the Hermitage Theatre and the Auxiliary House.

The museum complex also includes the Menshikov Palace and the Eastern Wing of the General Staff building, the Staraya Derevnya Restoration and Storage Centre and the Museum of the Imperial Porcelain Factory.



European Art Museums

Musee d'Orsay Paris, France

Musee d'Orsay Paris, France

Built as a train station, la Gare d’Orsay, it was finished on time for the Universal Exhibition in 1900 with an amazing glass roof. To the design of three architects: Lucien Magne, Émile Bénard and Victor Laloux. It was the train terminal for the railways of southwestern France until 1939.

With the advance of train transportation it became small for interurban trains and was used for local services and became a mailing center during WWII. Only in 1986 it was opened what today is the Musse d’Orsay.

Specializing in 19th and 20th century’s art, it houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces in the world, by such painters such as Monet, Manet, Degas, Renoir, Cézanne, Seurat, Sisley, Gauguin and Van Gogh, among them, the famous “Starry Night” by Van Gogh.

The Musée d'Orsay in French is located on the left bank of the River Seine in Paris, holds collection of mainly French art dating from 1845 to 1915 including furniture, sculptures, paintings and photography.

European Art Museums

Tate Modern London, England

Tate Modern London, England

Tate Museum is located in a former Bankside Power Station, with views of the Thames River and Millennium Bridge in London. It is Britain’s National Gallery of Modern Arts and is part of the Tate is part of the Tate group, together with Tate Britain, Tate Liverpool, Tate St Ives and Tate Online.

It is one of the most Famous Art Museums in the world with close to 5 million visitors a year.

It was originally designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, and built in two stages between 1947 and 1963. The power station closed in 1981 and in 1992 the architects decided to remodel the old power station building instead of demolishing it.

The Tate Gallery at the British National Art Museum is an example of adaptive reuse, the process of finding new life in old buildings.



image credits for european art museums:

louvre by ben lieu song
vatican by f bucher
prado by fernando bueno
uffizi by chris wee
orsay by dalbera
tate by hans peter schaefer

all courtesy of wikimedia commons





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