Best Historical Art Museums To Visit

There’s nothing wrong with modern art but no one can deny the compelling allure and enigma of historical art pieces that have been collected from different ages of history. The art of yesteryear gives us a glimpse of the past. For fans of such art works, here are the best historical art museums to visit around the world:

Le Louvre

This list won’t be complete without the Louvre, so it may as well be our #1. Paris was the center of the world throughout much of medieval history, and the Louvre itself was both a palace of the King of France as well as a medieval fortress before its conversion into a museum. The pyramid design is relatively new (and quite controversial to this day), but the real prizes are inside. The collections include works from ancient history up to the first half of the 1800s, and they’re considered among the most valuable and most important in the world. Here you will find the iconic Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci along with the Venus de Milo

The Vatican Museums

As the capital of the Christian world through much of the last two millennia, it’s not surprising that the Vatican has amassed a huge collection of historical art through the ages. They feature 22 distinct collections, and these include the Pinacoteca picture gallery that offers the very best of the Church’s collection of medieval and Renaissance paintings.

Of course, even the buildings that house the paintings and sculptures can be considered historical works of art. After all, here you will find whole rooms painted by Raphael. You may also have heard about the Sistine Chapel of Michelangelo, and it’s right here.

The National Gallery in London

It’s not surprising that the National Gallery in London houses a large number of historical art pieces. Britain has been a dominant global power for centuries, and at the height of the British Empire they occupied almost a quarter of the world’s total land area. Their monarchy still survives. So they’ve had numerous opportunities to collect historical art throughout the world.

In this museum you’ll find an excellent collection of paintings from Western Europe, from the 13th to the 19th centuries. If you’re lucky, you may see for yourself such works as Cézanne’s The Great Bathers along with The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan Van Eyck.

The Prado

This museum in Madrid, Spain is the repository of numerous art pieces that have been collected and commissioned by the Spanish royal family throughout the centuries. While they unsurprisingly have a fantastic collection of Spanish art with works by Goya, Velázquez, Zurbarán, and Ribera, they also have terrific sets of historical art from other countries. You must see the Italian collection here including the works of Raphael and Titian, though you must also get to see Rubens’s The Three Graces oil painting. 

State Hermitage

It’s true that St. Petersburg isn’t near such art centers as Rome, Paris, and London. Despite that, there are more than 3 million pieces of world art in the Hermitage collection. These come from a wide range of historical eras, as they span from the early 20th century back to the earliest art works of the Stone Age.

The main concentration of the museum is Western European Art, and they have 4 buildings and 120 rooms containing pieces from the Middle Ages up to today. The famous names are all represented here: you have Rembrandt, Picasso, van Gogh, Gauguin, Rubens, Cézanne, Goya, and Titian. It’s undoubtedly among the best historical art museums in the world.