Following up our first art museum series blog which looked at the prominent art museums of Europe, in this blog we’re taking a look at five of the most famous art museums of the United States of America. This list is in no way a compilation of the “best” museums – we’ll leave those kinds of designations to someone else. This list does, however, include some of the most significant and most visited art museums within the United States, all of which should be on the travel itinerary of any traveler to New York, Washington D.C., Chicago or Los Angeles.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY

Known by most people as simply The Met, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has amassed over two million works from across the world during its 147 year history. The museum covers all mediums and time periods from 8,000 B.C. to modern day, with collections such as Ancient Near Eastern Art to Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, Egyptian Art, European Paintings and Modern and Contemporary Art.

The Met comprises 17 curatorial collections across three locations: Fifth Avenue, Breuer and Cloisters, and it is one of the largest museums in the Western Hemisphere. While its breadth and depth across all areas is simply astounding, it is within the 2,000 plus European paintings that the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most popular works lie, including Duccio’s Madonna and Child, Van Gogh’s Cypresses and the Adam and Eve engraving by Albrecht Dürer.

The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, NY

Founded in 1929, The Museum of Modern Art – also known as MoMA – is one of today’s most influential contemporary art museums. A collection of important works from the 19th century through to the 21st century, the Museum of Modern Art houses almost 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art across its main location in midtown Manhattan and its affiliate location called MoMA PS1 in Queens, where visitors can experience experimental in the form of exhibitions and performances.

As a contemporary art museum, MoMA showcases a growing range of visual art from architecture, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and photography to design, media, film and performance art. Some of MoMA’s main attractions include Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA

Comprised of two locations – The J. Paul Getty Museum of Art and the Getty Villa – The Getty Center is the legacy of businessman and avid art collector, J. Paul Getty. An art collector and philanthropist who donated significant works to the Los Angeles Museum of Art, Getty established the J. Paul Getty Museum Trust in 1953. Most of his personal estate passed to the trust in 1982 following his 1976 death, and it is from this trust that the Getty Center was created.

The J. Paul Getty Museum in Brentwood houses the museum’s fine art and photography collections from The Middle Ages to modern day, while the Getty Villa in Malibu holds a huge antiquities collection of some 40,000 pieces from ancient Greece and Rome. The Brentwood location is home to over 400 paintings, 900 drawings and 2,100 sculptures, along with 70,000 photographic works and 7,000 manuscripts.

The Getty is home to Van Gogh’s Irises, at one time the most expensive painting in the world. It is also popular for its panoramic views, contemporary architecture and sprawling gardens.

National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

The National Gallery of Art and its famous sculpture garden is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. The world-renowned museum comprises an east and a west building, with an underground moving walkway through the light installation Multiverse by Leo Villareal connecting the two.

The Gallery contains approximately 141,000 works of art, which include paintings, prints, drawings, photographs, objects, sculpture and new media from The Middle Ages to present day. Some of the more famous works include Monet’s The Japanese Footbridge, Picasso’s The Tragedy, Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi, Matisse’s The Open Window, Vemeer’s Woman Holding a Balance and Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can. Modern artworks housed in the east building include works by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Jackson Pollock.

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the country’s largest and well-established art museums, founded in 1879 and located in the heart of the downtown Chicago. Home to a permanent collection of some 300,000 works of art, the collection includes world-renowned classics such as Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Of particular note is its impressive collection of more than 30 pieces by Monet.

In addition to an art museum, the Art Institute also comprises conservation departments and laboratories and an expansive art history and architecture library. The museum comprises nearly one million square feet, making it second only in size to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, with an estimated 1.5 million visitors annually.

To read our first blog on the preeminent art museums of Europe, click here.