Is there a better way to spend an afternoon than mooching around a museum, soaking up knowledge and getting your geek on? Seeing as it was International Museum Day last week I wanted to share some of my favourite museums with you.
It’s unusual for me to visit, well anywhere really, without checking out at least one of the local museums, so I have LOTS to choose from.
These aren’t in order of preference, they are all so different, I truly couldn’t choose a favourite.
1. Coudenberg Museum, Brussels, Belgium
Hidden away underneath the Royal Palace in Brussels, you’ll find the Coudenberg Museum. The dark sloping tunnels and exposed brickwork is all that’s left of the original Royal Palace that was damaged in a fire in 1731. I love that they just built a new palace over the top of it.
2. Musee Rodin, Paris, France
Rodin lived in this house for many years, but it is the garden that will blow you away. Some of Rodin’s most stunning pieces are there, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. This isn’t somewhere that you’ll want to visit in the rain, so if you’re in Paris and the sun is shining, make the Musee Rodin your first stop.
3. Musee du Marrakech, Marrakech, Morocco
If you’re visiting Marrakech there will come a day when it will all get too much. The people, the dirt, the heat, the haggling, the noise, the attention. When you find yourself getting irritated and snapping at people, the Musee du Marrakech is where you want to go. Full of incredible architecture, artifacts and art, it is the perfect place to hit the pause button, without actually pausing.
4. Warsaw Uprising Museum, Warsaw, Poland
To truly understand just how good the Warsaw Uprising Museum you need to know that even thinking about it now (two years after my visit) has me welling-up. I arrived recovering from a nasty virus, knowing very little indeed about the Warsaw Uprising and was transported back in time to the ‘largest single military effort taken by any European resistance movement during World War II’.
They’ve done a great job of mixing up the exhibits so that they cover all kinds of media, which will keep you engrossed all the way round. Make time for this, it might not be the cheeriest place to spend a few hours, but it will give you a great insight into the history, geography and culture of Poland.
5. Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
There is no way for me to get across the size of the Vasa, except perhaps to tell you that you can’t capture the whole thing in one picture – trust me, I tried from ALL the angles. A 17th century war ship that sank on its maiden voyage, the Vasa was preserved at the bottom of Stockholm Harbour for 300 years. Now it sits in its very own museum, looking like an extra from The Pirates of the Caribbean and leaving visitors speechless.
6. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
First a church, then a mosque and now a museum; the Hagia Sophia was every bit as beautiful as I thought she would be and then some. Firstly you have the sheer size of it; I walked in and stood gaping like the proverbial goldfish. But it wasn’t just about the big ticket items. Every single part of the Hagia Sophia – no matter how small – was beautiful. So much detail in every nook and cranny. You look up and gape at the size of the columns then the tiny little tiles at the bottom catch your eye.
7. British Museum, London, England
The British Museum is the perfect example of everything I love about London. A stunning mixture of the old and the new, complementing each other beautifully. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve visited, but I’ve never managed to get round it all. If you’re short on time, head straight to Ancient Egypt.
8. Museum of Natural History, New York, New York, USA
I dedicated an entire day to the Museum of Natural History while I was in New York and there still wasn’t time to check out all the exhibits. Having seen so much of it in films, I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t quite live up to my expectations, but I really didn’t need to worry, it was actually even better than I thought it would be. Usually I’m nuts about the dinosaurs, but it was the Space Centre that blew me away this time. There is absolutely something for everyone.
So there you have it, my top eight museums, quite the mix, I think you’ll agree.
There were four others that made it onto the shortlist, but not quite into the top spots; Castel Sant’ Angelo in Rome, Musee De La Cour D’or in Metz, Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire and Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam.