“You’re not a museum person, are you?” My friend looked at me accusingly. We had spent a few days in Lisbon, walking around Portugal’s capital, drinking sweet port wine and the little beers they call “Minis”, taking day trips to the sea and castles around, but never once setting foot inside a museum. In fact, I hadn’t considered it until she asked.
I felt a little offended – after all, I love culture, I love the arts, I love creativity. How could she even suggest I wasn’t a museum person? But, well, she was right. A little. At least when I travel, I’m not really one for going inside a museum, or inside at all. Actually, I prefer not to be anywhere near buildings in the first place, but rather spend all my vacation time out in nature, hiking the Alps, cycling the Balkan, exploring the Great Outdoors.
The Lisbon incident happened three years ago. Since then, I’ve made a more conscious effort to include museums on my trips – and even built up a small list of those I’d still like to visit. The rest of the girls of the Travelettes team pitched in with a few museums on their to-go list. Together, we came up with 13 museums we’d love to visit around the world – enjoy!
1 – Museum of Broken Relationships, Zagreb, Croatia
Playing cards a couple used to find together in the streets, a shoe given as a gift to an old lover, the suicide note of a mother to her child – this Croatian museum collects artefacts of ordinary people’s broken relationships.
(P.S.: There’s a satellite in Los Angeles, as well, if you can’t make it all the way to Zagreb to visit!)
2 – Naoshima, the “Museum island” in Japan
The Japanese island Naoshima is like a giant museum for contemporary art in itself: There are artworks scattered all over the streets and hills, completed with several extraordinary museums for modern art. It’s a place where you can immerse yourself in modern art, walking from one piece to another as if they were landmarks – definitely on our must-see list.
3 – Cancún Underwater Museum, Mexico
We Travelettes are crazy about diving – so the Cancún Underwater Museum is a no-brainer when it comes to museums we’d love to visit! There are three galleries that you can only explore with your diving gear on. Plus, you’re helping save the nearby coral reefs by exploring this alternative dive spot, instead. What’s not to love?
4 – Color Factory, San Francisco, USA
This is what Instagram heaven must look like. The pop-up museum in San Francisco opened only a few days ago and is already making travelers and photo enthusiasts all over the world dream of going there: the entire building celebrates color in all of its hues and shades. The “pop-up color experience” is one we’d definitely love to try!
5 – Butterfly Park, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Kuala Lumpur butterfly park is technically not a museum, but who cares about details like this when you’re standing in the midst of over 5000 live butterflies? Besides these living artworks, you can also have a pleasant stroll through thousands of exotic plants and beautiful gardens – sounds like a dream to me.
6 – Museum of Old and New Art (MONA), Hobart, Australia
Hobart is a small city in Tasmania that probably wouldn’t figure prominently on most traveler’s to-see lists – if it weren’t for MONA. Art collector and MONA owner David Walsh has once called it a “subversive adult Disneyland”, and apparently the architecture alone makes you feel like you’re going down the rabbit hole. Definitely a museum not to be missed!
7 – Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Ikeda, Japan
It’s all right there in the title, really: The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is dedicated entirely to, well, ramen. Need I say more?
8 – “Selfie to Self-Expression”, Saatchi Gallery, London
Saatchi Gallery in London is a great place to visit all year round, but their current Selfie exhibition makes us want to pack a backpack and go for a weekend trip to London this very second. The soon-to-come exhibits “Art Riot” and “Iconoclasts” don’t seem so bad, either, so there’s plenty good stuff to discover in the following months if you can’t make it right now.
9 – Walled Off Hotel, Bethlehem, Palestine
Despite the fact that this place right on the border wall between Israel and Palestine is designed to host people rather than art, the building still deserves a place on this list: The Walled Off Hotel belongs to famed street artist Banksy and has been entirely designed by the legend himself. There are Banksy artworks all over the place, and you can find some more if you venture outside and check out your surroundings, including the giant border wall. It’s half hotel, half art gallery, and one hundred percent political statement.
10 – Victoria and Albert Museum, London
The V&A in London might not be the most unusual or crazy museum on this list, but definitely a must-see if you’re travelling to London. It houses the biggest collection of decorative arts and design in the world – from ancient sculptures to Doc Martens, the displays are varied and full of surprises.
11 – “Höhenrausch”, OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria
Every year or so, the OK Center for Contemporary Art in Linz turns its roof (and that of the neighboring church) into a playground for a well-curated, thought-out exhibition. You can climb towers, walk on roof ridges, and peek down a cathedral right from the high ceiling, all the way discovering excellent modern art. It’s on hiatus this summer, but stay tuned for the next edition – it’s sure to be just as worthwhile as the previous ones.
12 – Grutas Park, Lithuania
This one’s for all of you who just can’t get enough of Soviet memorabilia and remnants (anyone else out there?): Grutas Park in Lithuania showcases old Soviet statues in a vast sculpture park. Who never dreamed of walking through green grass and lush forests while a hundred giant Stalin statues are keeping a close watch on your every move? It’s a surreal experience, teaching visitors a lesson or two about a not-so-long-ago chapter in time.
13 – Messner Mountain Museum Corones, Italy
Remember when I said at the beginning that I usually travel to mountains instead of museums? Well, there’s a way to combine those two. Reinhold Messner, mountain legend, has built six museums in Italy that are all about various aspects of his passion. The Corones one might be the most stunning of all, sitting on top of the Italian Alps and overlooking the beautiful panorama. Now, that’s my kind of museum…
How about you? Are you a museum person? Which ones would you recommend? We’re happy to hear some suggestions to expand our list, so let us know in the comments which museums not to miss around the world…