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17 Museums That Are Works of Art Themselves

Themed Collections

17 October 2017

Posted by Maya Witters

We all have distant memories of some horribly boring museum trip that we got dragged around on as kids. Dusty displays full of unimpressive artefacts, accompanied by long panels of mind-numbing text and a mumbling guide, at least as old as some of the objects on show. I might be exaggerating, but let’s face it, as a kid those museum trips just weren’t cool. Some of us take that feeling with us into adulthood, while others love a little culture trip. But museums around the world try their best to woo visitors by creating attractive spaces that draw you in. We’ve selected photographs of some of the most impressive museum buildings in the world. While we may disagree on the value of the works they display, it’s undeniable that each of these buildings pushes the boundaries of art and architecture, often making the museum a work of art in its own right.

The Art Gallery of Ontario has undergone various expansions and renovations, most recently with the addition of a new glass and wood façade, the Galleria Italia, designed by Fra... Read more

The Art Gallery of Ontario has undergone various expansions and renovations, most recently with the addition of a new glass and wood façade, the Galleria Italia, designed by Frank Gehry. Read less

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Tate Modern museum in London is housed in the former Bankside Power Station and has retained the monumental Turbine Hall as a space for people to rest, as well as a display area... Read more

Tate Modern museum in London is housed in the former Bankside Power Station and has retained the monumental Turbine Hall as a space for people to rest, as well as a display area that often houses custom-designed artworks to fit the size of the space. Read less

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The Royal Ontario Museum in Canada combines old, monumental architecture with the ultra-modern addition of The Crystal, a glass and aluminium extension that was controversial am... Read more

The Royal Ontario Museum in Canada combines old, monumental architecture with the ultra-modern addition of The Crystal, a glass and aluminium extension that was controversial among city residents. Read less

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The iconic Guggenheim Museum in New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, features a cylindrical design with a skylight.

The iconic Guggenheim Museum in New York, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, features a cylindrical design with a skylight. Read less

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Kofi A. Oliver

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The Vatican Museums, which encompass the famous Sistine Chapel, form a labyrinth of passages and galleries, which display only a fraction of the extensive historical collections... Read more

The Vatican Museums, which encompass the famous Sistine Chapel, form a labyrinth of passages and galleries, which display only a fraction of the extensive historical collections housed in the Vatican’s crypts. Read less

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The Great Court of the British Museum connects the various wings of the extensive building and serves as a resting space. It is centred around the Reading Room.

The Great Court of the British Museum connects the various wings of the extensive building and serves as a resting space. It is centred around the Reading Room. Read less

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The Riverside Museum in Glasgow was designed by star architect Zaha Hadid and features a spiked rooftop that resembles a mountain top.

The Riverside Museum in Glasgow was designed by star architect Zaha Hadid and features a spiked rooftop that resembles a mountain top. Read less

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John Hastings

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia, features intertwined slides that can be used to exit the building.

The Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Croatia, features intertwined slides that can be used to exit the building. Read less

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The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a monument of modern architecture. The design by Frank Gehry was a unanimous success among critics, academics and the general public, a rarity wh... Read more

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a monument of modern architecture. The design by Frank Gehry was a unanimous success among critics, academics and the general public, a rarity when it comes to modern design. Read less

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The Science Museum Principe Felipe is part of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, an architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava.

The Science Museum Principe Felipe is part of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, an architectural complex designed by Santiago Calatrava. Read less

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Simon K. Allen

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Old and new combine seamlessly in the Louvre museum in Paris. The old building is a former Royal Palace dating back to the Middle Ages; to improve access to the various wings of... Read more

Old and new combine seamlessly in the Louvre museum in Paris. The old building is a former Royal Palace dating back to the Middle Ages; to improve access to the various wings of the building an underground entrance hall was added, covered by the iconic glass pyramid. Read less

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scott leonard photography

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The Natural History Museum in London looks like it came straight out of Harry Potter, but in fact the building is younger than it looks. It was built in Romanesque style between... Read more

The Natural History Museum in London looks like it came straight out of Harry Potter, but in fact the building is younger than it looks. It was built in Romanesque style between 1871 and 1880. Read less

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The Getty Museum in Los Angeles features monumental architecture meant to imitate the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, Italy, as well as a spectacular view.

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles features monumental architecture meant to imitate the Villa of the Papyri in Herculaneum, Italy, as well as a spectacular view. Read less

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journeylism

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Another view of the Louvre at night reveals the full scope of the symmetric palace wings and the modern entrance hall in front.

Another view of the Louvre at night reveals the full scope of the symmetric palace wings and the modern entrance hall in front. Read less

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Rostislav Bychkov

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The light-flooded Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh was inspired by the iconic Crystal Palace building in London.

The light-flooded Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh was inspired by the iconic Crystal Palace building in London. Read less

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People either love or hate the Centre Pompidou’s high-tech architectural style, but it is widely recognised as a landmark of architecture. All the building’s functional structur... Read more

People either love or hate the Centre Pompidou’s high-tech architectural style, but it is widely recognised as a landmark of architecture. All the building’s functional structural elements, like wires, ducts and circulation pipes, are colour-coded and exposed on the outside. Read less

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The Imperial War Museum North at the riverside in Manchester, by Daniel Libeskind, is a prime example of Deconstructivist architecture.

The Imperial War Museum North at the riverside in Manchester, by Daniel Libeskind, is a prime example of Deconstructivist architecture. Read less

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Lucas Smith

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