Calling all art lovers! The United States is home to some absolute world class museums. In this guide, I cover the 25 best art museums in the country to inspire your art-filled travels.
These museums cover a vast range of artistic styles and periods, from ancient to contemporary art. There is something for every art geekery.
For each museum on my list, I give you an overview of the collections and identify some awe inspiring must see masterpieces.
Best Art Museums In The United States
Here are my picks for the 26 best art museums in the United States. I’ve put them in alphabetical order for ease of reference.
With their rich histories, breathtaking architecture, and well-curated collections, these museums are definitely worth a visit. Some of them, mostly in Washington D.C., are even completely free.
1. Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh PA
The Andy Warhol Museum is a single artist museum celebrating Pittsburgh’s hippest native son, who made himself a world famous Pop artist.
It’s the only Warhol art museum in the United States. The museum is a veritable treasure trove of Warhol art and archives, the largest in the world.
As the Prince of Pop, Andy Warhol was a hugely significant artist of the second half of the 20th century. Warhol cannily merged superficial commerce and fine art, popularizing robotic everyday images.
Opened in 1994, the Andy Warhol Museum is a chic urban venue. It’s an immersive and well-curated museum.
The museum has 7 floors in chronological order. You’ll see seminal works from the 1940s to Warhol’s death in 1987, with explanations of Warhol’s creative process. The museum also has a permanent room on the 4th floor for viewing Warhol films.
There’s gallery after gallery of paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, and Warhol’s personal knickknacks. Some of the drawings are by Warhol’s talented mother, Julia.
My favorite part of the museum is the floor dedicated to Warhol’s pre-factory formative years, when he became an award winning illustrator. You’ll find rare drawings, photographs, and vintage advertisements.
Here’s my detailed guide to the Warhol Museum.
- Address: 1117 Sandusky Street Pittsburgh PA
- Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Tuesdays
- Admission: $25
2. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago IL
The Art Institute of Chicago is absolutely world class!
It’s one of the best, and incredibly diverse, art museums in the United States. It has the top collection of Impressionist paintings outside Paris and a spectacular modern art section.
The museum’s collection of Asian art is also one of the largest in the United States. It has more than 35,000 objects spanning more than 5,000 years of history.
The American art collection includes works by famous artists such as Grant Wood, Edward Hopper, Mary Cassatt, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
The museum’s standout masterpieces include Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Georges Seurat’s Sunday on La Grand Jatte, Andy Warhol’s Liz #3, Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, Joan Mitchell’s City Landscape 1955, and Monet’s Stacks of Wheat.
- Address: 111 S. Michigan Avenue Chicago IL
- Hours: 11:00 am to 5:00 pm closed Tuesdays
- Admission: $25
3. Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia US
The Barnes Foundation is one of the best and most impressive museums in the United States.
It was founded in 1922 by art collector Albert C. Barnes. He loved art and was impassioned to share his appreciation.
Barnes spent a fortune buying up Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings from then up and coming artists like Henri Matisse, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, and Pablo Picasso.
As a result, the Barnes Foundation houses an unparalleled one-of-a-kind collection of rare Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art.
You’ll find masterpieces by Picasso, Matisse, Seurat, Van Gogh, Cezanne, and Chaime Soutine. There’s an astonishing 181 Renoirs alone.
The paintings are hung helter skelter on the walls, in a dense clutter amidst medieval artwork, relics, and furniture. Barnes intentionally left the paintings un-curated and unlabeled.
Here’s my guide to the Barnes Foundation and its rather colorful and controversial history.
- Address: 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway Philadelphia
- Hours: Thursday to Monday 11:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission: $25
4. Clark Institute, Williamstown MA
The vaunted Clark Art Institute is one of the United State’s best museums. It has a special focus European and American art.
The museum is unique in that it seeks to be both an art museum and a center of learning to expand public appreciation of art.
The museum has been fully renovated and expanded in a mix of architectural styles, with an elegant new pavilion designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
The redo aims for grand scale intimacy. The museum was aiming to be the “Berkshires Bilbao.”
The Clark Institute looks nothing like the Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. But it does have a wow factor.
The museum is home to some beautiful works by American artist Winslow Homer like Undertow and Two Guides.
It also has a world class collection of French Impressionist paintings (30 Renoir paintings!) and some lovely British art by the likes of Sargent, Manet, Constable, Bonnard, and Turner.
Look for Degas’ Self Portrait and Dancers in the Classroom, Morisot’s The Bath, and Monet’s Tulip Fields. Another of my favorite pieces is Gilbert Stuart’s George Washington.
- Address: 225 South Street, Williamstown MA
- Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission: $20
5. Cleveland Museum Of Art
The Cleveland Museum of Art is not something you’d expect to find in northeast Ohio. It’s one of the finest museums in the United States. And best of all, it’s absolutely free (except for special exhibitions).
There’s something for everyone in this expansive collection. The art works stretch over 6,000 years, from antiquity to the present.
The first floor casts you back in time to the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Islamic periods. The most impressive pieces, I thought, were the Cleveland Apollo (a rare Greek bronze sculpture) and the statue of Marcus Aurelius (a Roman sculpture).
There’s also a goodly collection of Medieval and early Renaissance art. You don’t find those pieces terribly often in the United States. There are paintings by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli, Fra Angelico, and Filippo Lippi.
On the second floor, you’ll find an impressive collection of French, British, and American art and furnishings from the 16th to 18th centuries.
You’ll see works by Jacque-Louis David, Thomas Eakins, John Singer Sargent, and a stunning collection of Tiffany stained glass.
In the East Wing, you’ll find the museum’s modern art collections. There are pieces by Picasso, Van Gogh, Monet , Degas, Matisse, and Dali. There’s also quite a few pieces by the great French sculptor Auguste Rodin, including a version of his magnificent Age of Bronze.
Here’s my complete guide to the Cleveland Museum of Art.
- Address: 11150 East Boulevard, Cleveland OH
- Hours: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Mondays, open until 9:00 pm on Wednesday night
- Admission: Free
6. Denver Art Museum
The Denver Art Museum was founded in 1893 and is an encyclopedic American museum.
Thanks to a recent $175 million renovation, the museum is one that current day curators dream of. The design galleries are airy and bright.
With the extra space, the museum has reimagined its role, beefed up its contemporary works in each collection, and focused on including all types of media. It’s an almost new museum compared to the last time I visited.
The museum’s collections are divided into two interconnected buildings, the Hamilton Building and the Martin Building.
The Hamilton building contains the 19th century European and American paintings, a gallery for temporary exhibitions, Modern and Contemporary arts, and African art.
Designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti, the Martin Building is an 8 story with 21,000 square feet space.
The Martin building houses Indigenous art, Latin American art, Asian art, pre- 1800 European art, textiles, and Western American art. The top floor has a rooftop terrace with views of the Rocky Mountains.
Of its many collections, , I thought the DAM’s real strengths were in Indigenous, Asian, Western American art. Though, for Impressionism fans, there is much that will please.
Frederic Remington’s Cheyenne is one of the single most important Remington bronzes in existence.
Here’s my complete guide to the Denver Art Museum.
- Address: 100 W. 14th Avenue Parkway Denver CO
- Hours: Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Open until 9:00 pm on Thursday nights.
- Tickets: $18. Colorado residents $15. Under 18 free.
7. Detroit Institute of Arts Museum
The Detroit Institute of Arts has a vast collection of over 65,000 works of art spanning a wide range of cultures and time periods. It includes American, European, African, Asian, Ancient, and Contemporary art.
You’ll find works by Renaissance masters such as Titian, Raphael, and Botticelli. The contemporary works feature painters such as Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg.
The museum’s singular showstopper is a Van Gogh Self Portrait. It also owns a painting by one of my favorite Baroque artists, Artemisia Gentileschi.
Another iconic work in the DIA’s collection is the series of murals by Mexican artist Diego Rivera depicting Detroit’s manufacturing industry. The murals cover the walls of a large gallery and are a tribute to the city’s industrial heritage.
- Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit MI
- Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm, Friday,9:00 am to 9:00 pm, weekends from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm
- Admission: $14, parking $7
8. Frick Museum, New York City
The Frick Museum is situated in the opulent residence of Henry Clay Frick. It’s one of New York City’s few remaining Gilded Age mansions, spanning an entire city block along Fifth Avenue.
The stunning collection was assembled by Frick himself, who was a prime player in the “race for the great masters.”
Frick amassed an extraordinary collection of decorative arts and paintings, especially strong in old masters. He even arranged the paintings himself.
The Frick houses old master works from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. It’s home to paintings by Vermeer, Ingres, Goya, Fragonard, Velazquez, Whistler, Ingres, and Bellini. There are four Rembrandt paintings.
Amid the hustle and bustle of Manhattan, this is a tranquil spot to travel back in time and soak in some fantastic art.
Right now, the Frick Mansion is undergoing renovations. So, the collection has been temporarily moved to the Breuer Building on Madison Avenue. The museum re-opens in its original space in May 2023.
- Address: 1 East 70th Street, New York City, temporarily at 945 Madison Avenue
- Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Admission: $22, pay what you wish on Thursdays from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm
9. Getty Center, Los Angeles
The Getty Center showcases the best art that money can buy. LA’s hilltop acropolis houses the magnificent collection of billionaire oil magnate J. Paul Getty.
Perched on a hilltop, the Getty Center is a beguiling modern day temple made of rough surfaced travertine stone, aluminum panels, and glass. It’s a place where undulating lines follow the natural terrain of the Santa Monica Mountains.
The permanent collection is housed in four pavilions — North Pavilion, East Pavilion, South Pavilion, and West Pavilion. The galleries are minimalist, with skylights and vaulted ceilings that show off the art with natural light instead of electric light.
Opened in 1997, it has a wide ranging collection of paintings, drawings (including some by Michelangelo), and other art from the Middle Ages to the 20th century. There is no modern art save for the outdoor sculptures.
The most famous painting is Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises. It’s simply dazzling. You’ll also see seminal works by Manet, Monet, Cezanne, J.M.W, Turner, Fragonard, Mantegna, Bronzino, and Titian.
For more information, here’s my complete guide to the Getty Center. You may want to book this 90 minute guided tour, which focuses on either the highlights or a particular period of art history.
- Address: 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA
- Hours: Open Tuesday through Friday and Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. Saturday hours are 10:00 am to 8:00 pm. Closed Mondays.
- Admission: Free, but parking is $20 and you take a shuttle to the museum. To visit, you must book a timed entry ticket online (no fee). You’ll be turned away without a reservation.
10. Getty Villa, Los Angeles
The Getty Villa is a fantastic one-of-a-kind museum that brings ancient art and architecture to life.
The villa is a pristine recreation of a seaside Roman estate housing billionaire oilman J. Paul Getty’s collection of Greco-Roman antiquities.
Through the museum’s exhibits, you can track the history of the ancient world from 3,000 B.C. to the late Roman Empire in 400 A.D.
There are 33 galleries on two levels that are organized thematically. 5 galleries are dedicated to temporary exhibits.
There are 1,000 antiquities on display, including sculpture, busts, pottery, paintings, jewelry, mosaics, and frescos. If you’re a history buff, you could spend hours perusing these galleries.
The first floor showcases the Greek, Etruscan, and Persian collections. In addition, there’s an area explaining Getty’s love for collecting artifacts from antiquity as well as his life and legacy. The second floor is exclusively dedicated to Roman art.
For more information, you can check out my complete guide to the Getty Villa.
- Address: 17985 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Pacific Palisades CA
- Hours: Open Wednesday through Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Tuesdays
- Admission: Free, except that you have to pay $20 for parking (or $15 after 3:00 pm).
11. Guggenheim Museum, New York City
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City is famous for its unique architecture and collection of modern and contemporary art.
The museum was designed by the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. While at first controversial, today it’s recognized as a masterpiece of modern architecture.
The museum’s design features a unique cylindrical shape that’s wider at the top than the bottom. It has a continuous ramp that spirals up to the top of the building.
The museum is home to some incredible masterpieces from the Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, Modern, and Contemporary art periods. There are works by Pablo Picasso, Wassily Kandinsky, Jackson Pollock, and Mark Rothko, among many others.
Some of the Guggenheim’s most famous works include Kandinsky’s Composition 8, Jackson Pollack’s Alchemy, Picasso’s Woman with Yellow Hair, and Edouard Manet’s Before the Mirror.
The Guggenheim also has a useful blog, with in-depth analyses of artists and art works.
- Address: 1071 5th Avenue, New York City
- Hours: Open daily from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, open late on Saturday night until 8:00 pm
- Admission: $25
12. Harvard Art Museums, Boston MA
The Harvard Art Museums are a conglomerate of three separate museums — the Fogg Museum, the Biusch-Reisinger Museum, and the Arthur M. Sackler Museum.
After renovations by Renzo Piano from 2008-14, the museums were recently combined under a single glorious glass roof and renamed the Harvard Art Museums.
The museums contain a range of collections from antiquity to the present day. The 250,000 exhibits are spread out over 7 levels. There’s also a theater and cafe.
The Fogg Museum houses a very good collection of Western art and Italian Renaissance paintings, including works by Botticelli and Ghirlandaio.
You’ll also find paintings by a roster of French Impressionist luminaries in the Maurice Wertheim Collection — Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Manet.
My favorite pieces are tucked away in Room 2520 — 15 bozetto (terracotta models) by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini was the greatest sculptor of the Baroque period.
You’ll also find paintings by a roster of French Impressionist luminaries in the Maurice Wertheim Collection — Van Gogh, Picasso, Gauguin, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Manet.
Founded in 1901, the Busch-Reisinger Museum is dedicated to the art of the German speaking countries of Central and Northern Europe. The works cover the periods of the Austrian Secession, German Expressionism, and the Bauhaus design school.
The Bauhaus works resulted from a partnership with Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius, a former chair of Harvard’s Department of Architecture. On level 1, check out the vintage Club Chair.
The Arthur M. Sackler Museum is the newest of the trio, opening in 1985. It’s dedicated to Asian, Indian, Islamic, and Byzantine art. Highlights include beautiful Greek vases, carved jade from India, and a limestone Buddha.
- Address: 32 Quincy Street, Cambridge MA
- Hours: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, open until 9:00 pm the last Thursday of the month
- Admission: $20, free on Sundays
13. Hirshhorn Museum, Washington D.C.
The Hirshshorn Museum is Washington D.C.’s contemporary art museum. It was the first national museum dedicated to post–World War II art and the first modernist building on the National Mall.
Opened in 1974, the museum was founded with a gift from Joseph H. Hirshorn, an oil and mining tycoon. He donated over 12,000 works of art amassed over 50 years of collecting — paintings, sculptures, drawings, and mixed media pieces.
The museum’s permanent collection includes modern and contemporary works of sculpture, paintings, digital media, photography, video, performance-based pieces.
There are works by Yayoi Kusama, Joan Mitchell, Damien Hirst, Laurie Anderson, Edward Hopper, and Willem de Kooning. The most beloved are Kusama’s Infinity Mirror rooms.
The Hirshhorn also has a magnificent Sculpture Garden with works by August Rodin and Henry Moore. It’s closing in the spring of 2023 for a multi-year renovation.
Here’s my complete guide to the Hirshhorn Museum.
- Address: Independence Ave SW & 7th St SW, Washington DC
- Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 5:30 pm
- Admission: Free, but you do need to make a timed entry reservation for special exhibitions
14. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston MA
If you’re an art lover, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is a must visit attraction in Boston Massachusetts. The museum has an almost fanatical following.
The museum is housed in an exquisite Venetian-style palazzo. It’s thought to be salvaged from Ca d’Oro, when that palace in Venice got a facelift.
The museum boasts utterly gorgeous Italian Renaissance and Dutch Golden Age paintings. And it’s mostly the work of one extraordinary woman — Isabella Stewart Gardner.
Born in New York in 1840, Isabella Stewart Gardner was an arts patron, philanthropist and socialite. While traveling in Europe, Gardner developed a passion for Italian Renaissance art.
Over time, and after inheriting her father’s fortune, she amassed a collection of more than 7,500 paintings and objects spanning antiquity to the 1920s.
On the first floor, highlights include the Spanish Cloister, the Blue Room, and the Yellow Room. On the second floor, there’s the Dutch Room, the Raphael Room, the Early Italian Room, and the Tapestry Room. On the third floor, you’ll find the the Veronese Room and the Titian Room.
Some of the must see masterpieces are Titian’s Rape of Europa, Piero della Francesca’s Hercules, Sargent’s El Jaleo, and Rembrandt’s Self-Portrait at Age 23.
There’s also some lovely Botticelli and Raphael paintings, a huge number of Sargent pieces, and a rare drawing by Michelangelo.
You’ll want to sit dreamily on the stone walls surrounding the central courtyard. Listen to the fountain trickle and gaze at the statues of famous women from antiquity.
Here’s my complete guide to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. It’s also included in the Go City Boston Pass.
- Address: 25 Evans Way, Boston MA
- Hours: $15
- Admission: $20
15. Kimbell Art Museum, Ft. Worth Texas
Opened in 1972, the Kimbell is a wonderful US art museum housed in an iconic building designed by architects Louis Kahn and Renzo Piano.
It’s the perfect example of supreme quality over quantity in a museum, truly one of the best museums in the US. The collection was compiled by self made Texas millionaire Kay Kimbell, who gifted it to Ft. Worth.
The permanent collection has a particulary good old masters presence, with works by Caravaggio, Fra Angelico, Rembrandt, Titian, and Goya.
But it also has modern works by Monet, Cezanne, Picasso, and Matisse.
Look for Caravaggio’s Card Sharps, Georges de la Tour’s The Cheat with the Ace of Clubs, Caravagggio, Card Sharps, 1505, and Bellini’s Christ Blessing.
The Kimbell is also home to the only Michelangelo painting in the United States, The Torment of Saint Anthony. It’s a small painting Michelangelo created when he was only 12 or 13, revealing his burgeoning talent.
- Address: 333 Camp Bowie Bad, Fort Worth TX
- Hours: Tuesday through Thursday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday from 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Sunday 12:00 pm to 5:00 m, closed Mondays
- Admission: $18
16. LACMA, Los Angles
With over 150,000 works, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the largest art museum in the western United States.
The museum is located in the heart of LA and boasts an excellent collection spanning most of art history, with a special emphasis on Asian and Latin American art.
The museum has more than 150,000 objects in its collection, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, and decorative arts.
This is where you’ll find art works by Mexican artists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, and Jose Clemente Orozco.
There are also contemporary pieces by Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons.
The museum itself is a work of art, with striking contemporary design elements. In the museum’s outdoor public spaces, you find the Urban Light sculpture Chris Burden and Levitated Mass by Michael Heizer.
- Address: 5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
- Hours: 1:00 am to 6:00 pm Monday through Friday, except closed Wednesday, weekends from 10:00 am to 7:00 pm
- Admission: $20
17. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the largest and most comprehensive art museums in the world, with over 2 million works of art.
The Met is best known for its vast and diverse collection of art and artifacts spanning more than 5,000 years of world culture.
Some of the key highlights of the Met’s collection are Egyptian, European, American, Asian, Islamic, and African art and artifacts.
Some of the must see masterpieces at the museum include Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, Johanne Vermeer’s Portrait of a Woman, and John Singer’s Sargent’s Madame X.
Another popular exhibit is the Temple of Dendur. It’s an ancient Egyptian temple that was built around 15 B.C. during the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar.
It’s housed in a specially designed room that recreates the original setting of the temple, with a reflecting pool and a wall of windows overlooking Central Park.
The temple consists of a central sanctuary, two outer halls, and a roof terrace. The walls are decorated with reliefs and inscriptions that tell the story of the gods and pharaohs of ancient Egypt.
You should also check the museum’s website before your visit to see what exhibitions or events are taking place. It’s a very large museum. Click here to book a 2.5 hour skip the line guided tour.
- Address: 1000 5th Avenue, New York City
- Hours: Sunday to Tuesday & Thursday from 10-:00 am to 5:00 pm, Friday & Saturday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, closed Wednesdays
- Admission: $30
18. Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art
The Museum of Asian Art is an underrated museum in Washington D.C., where you can escape the usual Smithsonian crowds.
The museum is in two parts, the Freer Gallery and the Sackler Gallery.
The Freer Gallery contains the collection of railroad tycoon Charles Freer, who bequeathed his art to the nation upon his death.
Opened in 1923, the museum was the first American public collection devoted primarily to the art of Asia. The Sackler, with its own collection, opened next to the Freer in 1987.
The Sackler Gallery has exhibits from China, South Arabia, Yemen, the Near East, and Iran. A highlight is a Tibetan Buddhist shrine.
The stupendous Freer collection includes fine arts from the classical antiquity of China, the Far and Near East, Japan, Korea, Tibet, India, Iran, Syria, and Egypt. You will see examples of bronze, jade, pottery, lacquer, sculpture, glass, metalwork, and Japanese screens.
Freer also collected paintings by American artists, includes James Whistler, Winslow Homer, Child Hassam, and John Singer Sargent.
The highlight of the Freer Collection is the famous Asian-inspired Peacock Room decorated by Whistler. It’s one of the most extravagant 19th century interiors in existence.
The room’s centerpiece is Whistler’s wondrous The Princess of the Land of Porcelain. The shelves are filled with the Chinese porcelain and the walls are decorated and gilded with peacocks.
Here’s my guide to the Museum of Asian Art.
- Address: 1050 Independence Ave. SW
- Hours: Open daily 10:00 am to 5:30 pm.
- Admission: Free
19. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston MA
The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is an absolute world class museum. It can be daunting to visit because it’s so massive.
Established in 1870, the MFA is the fourth largest museum in the United States. The museum is housed in a Beaux Art building. The museum was later expanded by architect I.M. Pei.
The collection has everything from Egyptian mummies to minimalist Mondrians. The museum’s collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist work is among the world’s finest, second in the United States only to Barnes Foundation.
Some of the must see masterpieces in the museum include Van Gogh’s Postman Joseph Roulin, Monet’s Poppy Field in a Hollow Near Giverny, Goya’s Seated Giant, and Rembrandt’s Portrait of a 62 Year Old Woman.
If viewing fatigue sets in, head to the peaceful Shapiro Rotunda on Level 2 with classical murals by John Singer Sargent.
The MFA Boston is included in the Go City Boston Pass.
- Address: 465 Huntington Ave, Boston, MA
- Hours: Open Sunday to Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, except closed Tuesdays. Open late on Thursday and Friday nights until 10:00 pm.
- Admission: $27
20. Museum of Modern Art (“MoMA”) New York City
The venerable MOMA was the first museum in the United States solely dedicated to modern art.
It has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of modern and contemporary art in the world. A $450 million expansion in 2019 added 45,000 square feet of space.
The museum’s collection includes over 200,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and design objects, with a particular emphasis on works from the 20th and 21st centuries.
It’s seminal masterpieces include works by Jackson Pollack, Salvador Dali Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Frida Kahlo, and the ever popular Impressionists.
MOMA’s most famous piece is Van Gogh’s Starry Night, one of the world’s most beloved paintings. A close second is Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, which basically kicked off modern art.
MoMA also has an outdoor sculpture garden designed by Philip Johnson. You’ll find works by Picasso, Miro, and Giacometti, as well as a Paris subway entrance by Hector Guimard.
Click here to pre-book a skip the line ticket for the museum.
- Address: 11 West Street, New York City
- Hours: Open daily from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm, open until 7:00 pm on Saturdays
- Admission: $25
21. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
The National Gallery of Art is one of the best museums in the United States and my personal favorite. It’s a preeminent cultural institution with a massive and revered collection of American and European art.
In my opinion, the NGA is the #1 attraction in Washington D.C., especially for art lovers. The museum opened in 1941. It’s young in comparison to other world class museums like the Louvre in Paris or the National Gallery Art in London.
The collection is encyclopedic. The NGA is home to some of the world’s greatest masterpieces.
The NGA is a two part collection. It’s comprised of a West Wing (European and American art until the 19th century) and an East Wing (modern and contemporary art).
The collection includes over 140,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, and decorative arts from the 13th century to the present. The art ranges from Byzantine/Medieval altarpieces to Pop and Conceptual art.
In the East Wing, you’ll find works by Picasso, Rothko, Pollack, Modigliani, and Matisse. In the West Wing, you can admire masterpieces by Fra Angelico, Botticelli, Rembrandt, Raphael, Vermeer, Manet, Monet, and Van Gogh.
To top that off, the museum displays the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the United States — Ginevra de’ Benci.
Here’s my complete guide to the NGA and its masterpieces. If you’re an art lover, you may want to book a guided tour to see all the masterpieces.
- Address: Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC
- Hours: Open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Admission: Free
22. Nelson-Atkins Museum, Kansas City MO
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is in downtown Kansas City. Known for its architectural beauty and artistic influence in the Midwest, this US art museum welcomes over half a million visitors every year.
The museum houses an encyclopedic collection of more than 35,000 works of art spanning many historic periods. You’ll find everything from Egyptian to Warhol. You can visit for the paintings, historical artifacts, the Asian collection, or sculptures.
The museum houses paintings by Rembrandt, Vermeer, and Caravaggio. Some of the must see masterpieces include Caravaggio’s St. John the Baptist in the Wilderness, Monet’s Boulevard des Capucines, and Sargent’s Mrs. Cecile Wade.
The museum’s American art collection features works by artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Mary Cassatt, and John Singer Sargent.
One of the most popular works is the giant shuttlecocks on the lawn outside the museum, which are part of a sculpture installation by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
When you’re done admiring the art inside, stroll The Donald J. Hall Sculpture Park. It features over 30 sculptures by artists such as Henry Moore, Isamu Noguchi, and Auguste Rodin.
- Address: 4525 Oak St, Kansas City MO
- Hours: Monday, Thursday, Saturday & Sundays open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Tuesday & Wednesday, Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm
- Admission: Free
23. Philadelphia Museum of Fine Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the third largest art museum in the United States. The bronze Rocky statue, of Philadelphia’s favorite fictionalized character, is at the bottom of the museum steps.
Once up the steps, you enter Philadelphia’s crown jewel. Opened in 1929, the PMA is housed in a beautiful building, resembling a Greek temple and boasting world class art. It’s one of the premiere museums in the United States, with over 200 galleries.
There are some amazing pieces in the PMA’s permanent collection. The art works span all ages—from medieval relics to seminal Impressionist works to riveting and colorful modernist pieces.
The museum has works by artistic luminaries such as Picasso, Van Gogh, Manet, Renoir, Cassatt, Brancusi, Kahlo, Duchamp, and more.
Some of the superstars to keep an eye out for are The Large Bathers by Paul Cézanne, Thomas Eakins’ The Gross Clinic, Picasso’s Three Musicians, and Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2.
Another wildly popular exhibit is the Japanese Tea House. It’s an authentic, 17th century-style Japanese tea house and garden, situated on a beautiful site overlooking a pond. If you are lucky, you may see a tea ceremony.
- Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia PA
- Hours: Monday, Thursday, Saturday & Sunday open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, closed Tuesday & Wednesday, Friday from 10:00 am to 8:45 pm.
- Admission: $25
24. Phillips Collection, Washington D.C.
The Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. was the first art museum in the United States dedicated to Modern Art. It has a breathtaking collection of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist and Modernist art works.
Founded in 1921, the museum is housed in a Georgian Revival house. It was once the family home of the museum’s founder, Duncan Phillips.
The Phillips boasts one of the best small art museums in the United States, with just 6,000 works. The museum’s prize possession is Renoir’s Luncheon at the Boating Party.
But the Phillips also holds Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern works. You’ll find paintings by Van Gogh, Cezanne, Morisot, Bonnard, Utrillo, O’Keefe, and Picasso.
The museum’s Rothko Room is a beautiful art space. You can sit on a lone bench and be surrounded by four massive Rothko pieces.
If you need some caffeine, stop in at Tryst, one of D.C.’s most beloved coffeehouses, inside the Phillips’ Vradenburg Café.
Here’s my complete guide to the Phillips Collection.
- Address: 1600 21st Street NW, Washington DC
- Hours: Open daily from Tuesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm
- Admission: $16
25. Rhode Island School of Design, Providence RI
Founded in 1877, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, nicknamed RIZ-dee, is a fantastic US museum.
The acclaimed museum gives you a crash course in art history. RISD houses everything from ancient artifacts to contemporary works by notable masters of the art world.
The museum has more than 100,000 art works. About 1/4 of that total is on display at any given time.
You can admire paintings by luminaries like Monet, Manet, Turner, Picasso, Georges de La Tour, Degas, and other Impressionists. One of my favorites is Manet’s Lady in Black.
You’ll also find Egyptian and Asian artifacts, a 12th century 10 foot tall Buddha, mid-century modern Eames furniture, and Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass.
READ: One Day Itinerary for Providence
- Address: 20 Washington Place, Providence RI
- Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday & Sunday open from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Thursday & Friday from 12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
- Admission: $17. Admission is free on Sunday and on Thursday & Friday night from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
26. Walker Art Center, Minneapolis MN
The Walker Art Center is another of the most diverse art museums in the United States, with a constantly evolving collection.
It has an especially fine modern and contemporary art collection. You’ll find pieces by Andy Warhol, Frida Kahlo, Jasper Johns, Yoko Ono, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, and Cindy Sherman.
Jasper Johns’ Flag is widely considered one of the most important works of post-war American art.
The museum also has a performing art center, theater, lecture hall, and puts on temporary exhibitions.
The Walker is also a joint founder of the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, which is right nearby. The garden is free, requires no tickets for admission, and is open from 6:00 am to midnight every day.
- Address: 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis MN
- Hours: Open daily 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, except closed Monday & Tuesday. Open until 9:00 pm on Thursday night
- Admission: $15
I hope you’ve enjoyed my guide to the best art museums in the United States. You can check my Museums page for more ideas. You may enjoy these other US city itineraries:
- 1 day itinerary for Portland Maine
- 2 day itinerary for Philadelphia
- 2 day itinerary for San Diego
- 3 day itinerary for Boston
- 1 day itinerary for Cambridge
- Guide to Salem Massachusetts
- Guide To Boulder Colorado
- 2 day itinerary for Denver
- 1 day itinerary for Denver
- 2 day itinerary for Cleveland Ohio
If you’d like to visit the best museums in the Untied States, pin it for later.