Top 3 Art Museums in the U.S.

met museumMetropolitan Museum, New York City
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, is not only the largest museum in the United States, but is also one of the most visited museums in the world (behind the Louvre, Palace Museum, and the British Museum). Located on 5th Avenue next to Central Park, this stunning museum contains over 2 million works of art ranging from ancient Egyptian paintings to recreated Spanish patios that highlight the Arabic influence in Southern Spanish cities such as Cordoba and Sevilla.

A few interesting exhibitions currently showing at the Met include Pergamon, which showcases artifacts in the Hellenistic kingdoms in the ancient world along with Manus and Machina, that focuses on the art of fashion in the age of technology. Another incredible exhibition is titled “Design for Eternity,” which offers visitors an inside look into architectural models from North and South America during the ancient times.

Whitney Museum, New York City
A museum fully dedicated to American art in the 20th and 21st centuries, this whitney museum of artinstitution’s private collections owns more than 20,000 works of art ranging from drawings, prints, videos, films, and sculptures. The Whitney is also known for showcasing works that are created by upcoming artists both domestically and internationally.

One particular exhibition that will be on display until mid-February 2017 is titled “Human Interest: Portraits from the Whitney’s Collection,” which essentially highlight how self-proclaimed identity is shaped through a single or sometimes multiple portraits. This exhibition also sheds lights on the ubiquity of portraits and specifically, how the omnipresence of the digital age affects this artistic style in a very different manner than before. If you get the chance, be sure to visit the exhibition titled “Mirror Cells,” which recreates the neurons in our brain when absorbing concepts such as joy and pain when observing human behavior.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Conveniently located on the National Mall in our nation’s capital, the National Gallery of Art houses some of the finest works of art. Unique exhibitions currently on display at this museum now include Three Centuries of American Prints and Lectures and Book Signings.

national gallery washington dcInterestingly enough, this American print exhibition will display a wide array of art that touch on concepts related to historical events such as the Boston Massacre, indigenous people, natural landscape, and the influence democracy had within the artistic sphere. As this year marks the 75th anniversary of this establishment’s existence, paying a visit to the National Gallery is quite meaningful in 2016.

The Top 10 Opera Houses Around the World

The first public opera house dates all the way back to 1637 in Venice, Italy, which makes sense for a country that has considered opera a popular pastime for literally centuries for both its working class and bourgeoisie. Opera houses serve an important artistic center for the community they’re built within. They can be a place of culture, leisure, celebration, and political defiance. They are also often very beautiful pieces of architecture.

Not all opera houses are built strictly for opera; they can house everything from town events and community dances to plays and music concerts. They can vary is size, seating capacity, lighting features, and acoustic enhancements. Most are in some kind of U-shape, with tiers of balconies as well as boxes and some sort of orchestra pit. They also usually have an intricate backstage area full of dressing rooms, set equipment, and storage units full of objects from past shows. The stages themselves can have parts of the floor that open up or even elevators that allow performers to ascend or descent onto the stage.

Many opera houses are considered some of the most beautiful structures in the world, and their differences make them as beautiful as their similarities. National Geographic recently named their top 10 opera houses. Here’s a little info about each.

1. La Scala, Milan, Italy

The Teatro alla Scala was built in 1778. It’s one of the most famous opera houses and is home to Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, and Verdi. One of its most unique feature is the concave channel located under the wooden floor of the orchestra that enhances the theater’s sound quality.

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2. Teatro di San Carlo, Naples, Italy

The Teatro di San Carlo was built by King Charles of Bourbon and inaugurated in 1737, making it the world’s oldest working theater. Many of Gioachino Rossini’s most famous operas premiered on its stage.

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3. Teatro Colon, Buenos Aires, Argentina

The Teatro Colon was completed in 1908. After years of construction through multiple architects, the total area of ​​the Teatro Colon in 58,000 square meters. Many famous composers have crossed the stage including Richard Strauss, Arthur Honegger, Igor Stravinsky, and more. Among the singers, Enrico Caruso, Beniamino Gigli, Lily Pons, Maria Callas, Titta Ruffo, Leonard Warren, Fyodor Chaliapin, Boris Christoff, to name just a few.

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4. The Royal Opera House, London, England

An opera house has stood in this location since the early 18th century, but the current building is actually the third one that has been constructed at the site. The first opera performed in its current construction was from George Handel. He continued to write and perform in the opera house until his death in 1759.

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5. The Bolshoi, Moscow, Russia

The Bolshoi opened in 1856, and since then it has survived fire, war, and revolution. This opera house is where Yuri Grigorovich famously choreographed productions of Swan Lake, The Golden Age, and Romanda.

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6. Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia

The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 with a public performance of Prokofiev’s War and Peace. This opera house is unique because of its layered shell-like exterior and for its breathtaking view of the harbor. The inside is paneled in different types of wood that enhance the acoustics.

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7. Paris Opéra, Paris, France

The Paris Opera was built in 1875. The richly ornamental exterior and interior are exemplar of the architectural and decoral trends of the times. In 1962, Marc Chagall added the frescoes that are now prominent in the center of the Palais Garnier’s ceiling.

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8. Opéra Royal, Versailles Court Theater, France

The Opéra Royal is located within the palace of Versailles at the northern extremity of the north wing of the palace. Ange-Jacques Gabriel built the theater in 1769 after years of planning, and it has remained a staple venue for important performances ever since.

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9. Vienna Staatsoper, Vienna, Austria

The Vienna Staatsoper was built in 1869 and was inaugurated with a performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni. Much of it was destroyed in 1945 when the Allies bombed the city toward the end of World War II, but the grand staircase and a couple small areas were lucky enough to survive and continue to be used today.

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10. Lincoln Center, New York, New York

Lincoln center houses three buildings: the Avery Fisher Hall (formerly Philharmonic Hall) which opened in 1962, the David H. Koch Theater (formerly the New York State Theater) which opened in 1964, and the Metropolitan Opera House which opened in 1966. It is home to the world know Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, and New York City Ballet.

For opera and performance art lovers alike, these venues are the pinnacle of artistic viewing. Their sound is incredible, their history is rich, and the talent that comes across these stages is unmet by any other place in the world. Viewing performances at these opera houses should be an item on everyone’s bucket list.

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The Museums of Spain

Spain, a country of vibrant history and natural beauty, draws thousands of tourists looking to experience a piece of its storied culture. With countless landmarks to visit, how can you best submerge yourself in Spain’s culture and art? Visiting one of Spain’s many fantastic museums can be the best way to dive into its rich history, but which do you choose? Below are outlined some of the best locations for you to wander through decades of Spain’s contributions to the world.

museu-picasso-704x300Few artists carry the gravitas of Picasso, and his namesake is carried on at the Museu Picasso of Barcelona. Spending his early years in the famed city, Picasso donated over 2,500 paintings, drawings, and engravings to this museum. With pieces organized in chronological order, you can start at his early works, stop at his personal notebooks, and continue to his experimental stages. An art lovers dream, this museum is sure to be a day-trip for the Picasso aficionado.

Do your artistic tastes border the eccentric? The Teatre Museu Dali showcases the mad-artist, Salvador Dali like no other. Known for various absurdist pieces like Lobster Telephone and The Persistence of Memory, this museum carries on his artistic spirit long after his passing. However, it’s important to remember that while this testament to the devious brilliance of Dali is alluring, his love for theater is carried throughout its halls. Tour guides often offering “false information” in the vein of the famed creator, this museum would make Mr. Dali quite happy.

Founded in October 1976, the Museo Wolf Vostell is a testament to the artist whom it’s dedicated. Vostell, an internationally appreciated artist, is considered by many to be one of the earliest adopters of Video art. Utilizing television sets in several of his compositions, Vostell’s mastery of techniques like blurring and de-collage brought a unique spin to his post-war work. With some of his most famous installations lining their halls, the Museo Vostell is an excellent place for those seeking a new perspective on art.

Museums allow us the rare opportunity to mingle with the past. An entire body of work, years in the making, can be explored and appreciated in a handful of hours. Spain’s rich history of art and culture, all laid out in neat halls like passages through time. With so much of Spain’s beauty existing in the present, be sure not to overlook the vast wealth of riches preserved from its past.

10 Free Art Museums to Visit This Summer

“Art is a nation’s most precious heritage, for it is in our works of art that we reveal to ourselves and to others the inner vision which guides us as a nation.”

-Lyndon B. Johnson at the signing of the National Endowment for the Arts Act (1965)

As summer approaches and people begin to travel from coast to coast, it is the perfect time to explore many of the free art museums that are a product of that reverence for art that President Johnson alludes to in the quote above. Thanks to agencies and programs like the National Endowment for the Arts and thanks to generous philanthropists as well, there are several museums across the United States that are free and perfect destinations for individuals and families enjoying a nice summer vacation.

The following lists contains some of the nation’s best free art museums that may even be close to your next summer vacation destination, so be sure to include a visit on your summer to-do list.

1. The Getty Center, Los Angeles, California

Jeremy Barbera - The Getty Center

The Getty Center: Los Angeles, CA.

The Getty Center is part of the larger Getty Museum, funded by the Getty Family Trust, which was established by the prominent Getty family headed by industrialist J. Paul Getty; an oil billionaire who loved art and believed it could positively influence society. Because of this influence, he also believed that art should be freely available to the public.

2. The Saint Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, Missouri

Admission to this museum is free to all, regardless of where they are from, and provided by the taxpayers of the area. Engraved above the entrance to the museum is the phrase, “Dedicated to art and free to all.”

3. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio

This large institution houses over 43,000 works of art as part of its permanent collection thanks to a trust that was founded over 100 years ago. Much of the holdings found at the Cleveland Museum of Art have an emphasis on Asian and Egyptian art, although many works by American artists are also showcased.

4. The Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland

Any trip to the Baltimore area should include a stop by the BMA, which houses paintings from some of the world’s most well-known artists ranging from Picasso, Manet, to Renoir. Also, for those with a particular love for the works of Henri Matisse, this museum houses the largest collection of his works in the world.

5. Des Moines Art Center, Des Moines, Iowa

This not-for-profit institution offers a collection of around 4,800 works by both local and international artists from the 20th and 21st century.

6. The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

In our nation’s capital, which is a very popular vacation and tourist spot for the summer, this museum also holds the only Leonardo da Vinci painting in the Americas.

7. Frye Art Museum, Seattle, Washington

Frye Museum: Seattle, WA.

Frye Museum: Seattle, WA.

The foundation of this museum makes it interesting enough that it is worth a visit if your find yourself in Seattle. The founder, Charles Frye, set aside money in his will so that a museum could be constructed to house much of his family’s art collection. But money was not the only thing Mr. Frye left in his will. There were very specific instructions for the museum to remain free to the public and conditions for displaying the art, including stipulations on the proper lighting, the sizes of rooms that certain pieces would be displayed in and the type of floors (concrete).

8. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, Minnesota

This large and free art museum has around 87,000 pieces as part of its permanent collection and was opened in 1915.

9. Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The ICA is known as the museum where iconic artists such as Andy Warhol, Laurie Anderson, Agnes Martin, and Robert Indiana had their first museum shows in their careers.

10. The Menil Collection, Houston, Texas

After fleeing Nazi-occupied France, John de Menil, a businessman, philanthropist and art patron, along with his wife Dominique de Menil, established the Menil Collection in Houston. Although they maintained residencies in New York and their native France, Houston became their primary home. The museum holds a collection of close to 17,000 pieces, including a famous Picasso painting that made headlines after an artist vandalized it in an effort to make a statement.