Modern art is becoming more and more popular. Some people admire unusual works and try to find hidden meaning in them, others want to fix in their Instagram strange installations and scandalous exhibitions, and some are shocked and horrified by them. One way or another, a visit to a museum of contemporary art in big cities is on the list of every tourist.
MoMA (New York, USA) New York
MoMA (Museum Of Modern Art) is the largest and one of the first museums of modern art in the world. It served as a prototype for similar museums in all capitals of culture. MoMA is also one of the top twenty most visited art museums in the world – more than 3 million people annually.
What to see: MOMA collection is incredibly rich – paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations, video art, design, and architectural objects. In total, more than 150 thousand works and about 4 million films. Among the world-famous masterpieces on display here are Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Matisse’s Dance, Picasso’s Maidens of Avignon, Dali’s Constancy of Memory, Brancusi’s Bird in Space and Casimir Malevich’s White on White.
Cost of visit: adults – $25, pensioners – $18, students – $14. The ticket price includes an audio guide. On Friday, between 16:00 and 20:00 – free entrance. Working hours: 10:30-17:30, 10:30-20:00.
Tate Modern London
The Tate Modern London gallery of contemporary art is an iconic place for people interested in modern art. It houses a collection of works of world art created since 1900. The museum does not limit itself to genres or a list of names of authors, or even frames of familiar themes. The motto of the Tate Modern is “Art knows no boundaries, age, gender”.
The London Gallery of Modern Art was opened in 2000. Of course, the museum building itself immediately attracts attention. This is the reconstructed premises of the former Bankside Power Station. Nowadays this construction gives an opportunity to exhibit large-scale art projects on an unusual scale. For example, the turbine hall with an area of 3400 square meters and a height of five tiers hosts large-scale exhibitions of contemporary authors. This place has been visited by about 30 million people.
What to see: The permanent exhibition of the Tate Modern Gallery features works by Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Paul Clay, Robert Delaunay, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and many other renowned modernist artists. Read also vertiginously and beautifully: a fabulous trip to Mount Monserrat near Barcelona In addition to permanent exhibitions, the Tate Modern regularly hosts temporary exhibitions and installations as well as live performances and educational events. For example, every weekend there is the Open Studio Learning Centre, where children and their parents can experiment with different materials and tools and create their own work in the spirit of the latest artistic trends.
There are free 45-minute excursions in English every day at different levels of the gallery, which you can join without booking in advance. Lecture topics can be viewed on the museum’s website. Fewer people visit the Tate Gallery on weekdays in the morning, right after the opening. Closer to lunch, there are significantly more visitors. The busiest day in the museum is Saturday, and the freest is Wednesday.
Cost of visit: Permanent exposition – free, temporary exhibitions – about 11-18 pounds. Opening Time: all hours 10:00-18:00, 10:00-22:00.
Guggenheim Museum (Bilbao, Spain)
The museum in the Spanish city of Bilbao is one of the branches of the Solomon Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art. It is worth noting that the Guggenheim Foundation owns one of the world’s largest collections of modern art. Currently, the Foundation has three museums: in New York, Venice and Bilbao. A fourth museum is currently under construction in Abu Dhabi.
Despite its short existence – only 22 years – the museum has managed to become a symbol of Bilbao and one of its brightest sights. Inside the museum is no less futuristic – in the center, there is a three-story high atrium, from which the curved petals depart the halls. The permanent exposition is placed at the top. The third floor is divided into several zones – each zone is devoted to a separate direction of art.
The permanent exhibitions of the museum are dedicated to the art of the XX century. Interestingly, installations and electronic works exceed the number of traditional paintings and sculptures. The central work of the museum is a series of sculptures “The essence of time”, made by American sculptor Richard Serra. Eight huge curvilinear sculptures, made of ship steel sheets, occupy a huge room. They vary from simple ellipses to spirals. The composition transforms, dividing and narrowing the space, guiding visitors along a curved path to a complete dead end.
What to see: There are paintings by surrealists, cubists, postmodernists, and abstractionists of the early and mid 20th century. These are works by Modigliani, Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, Long, Andy Warhol, Yves Klein, de Kooning, Francesco Clemente.
It is worth mentioning that next to the museum is unusual art objects that continue the fantastic theme of the building. It is a huge flower dog; tulips that are more like glass toys, more unrecognizable at first sight; a 9-meter long spider; a sculpture “Tall tree and eye” reminiscent of a chain of DNA.
Cost of the visit: €11.
Opening Time: every day except Monday, from 10:00 to 20:00.
Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris, France)
This is not just a museum, but a center of culture and arts. It was opened in 1977 to “study contemporary art in the form of dance, music, and painting”, as stated on the museum’s website.
In 1969, French President Georges Pompidou, as a great art lover, decided to create a cultural center on a vacant plot in the Beaubourg quarter of Paris. Immediately a competition was announced for the best architectural design of the building, in which authors from 50 countries took part.
The result was the selection of three young architects: Renzo Piano, Gianfranco Francini and Richard Rogers. They proposed to build a glass building in the form of a parallelepipedal with escalators, and to take some structures and some elements outside, thus increasing the exhibition space.
During the construction, external pipes, cables, and wires were painted in different colors: red, yellow, green, blue and white. There are three architectural styles in the exterior of the complex: brutalism, structural expressionism, and post-modernist architecture.
The bold architectural solution has drawn a lot of criticism, as the building of the Pompidou Centre is very different from the rest of the architecture of this quarter. Its dimensions are simply enormous for the center of Paris: length – 166 m, width – 60 m, height – 42 m. Despite the controversial assessments of contemporaries, this building has become one of the visiting cards of the French capital. Today the center of Pompidou is the third most visited Parisian landmark after the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.
Also associated with the Pompidou Centre is another extravagant work – Stravinsky Fountain, which is located near the museum. It was created in 1983 by the Swiss architect Jean Tengli. On its surface there are 16 bright sculptures, which move in the water to the best music of the composer Igor Stravinsky, releasing spray jets.
The Museum of Modern Art contains a collection of 60 thousand exhibits in such areas as painting, design, architecture, photography, installation, video and multimedia.
There are permanent and temporary expositions. Read also Weekend in Nuremberg: atypical Bavaria, the legendary Christmas fair and big rock festival
What to see: Pompidou has a huge collection of works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Gerhard Richter, Henri Matisse, Edward Munch, Jackson Pollock, and other masters.
In the exhibition halls, you can see installations made from a variety of materials – from glass and wood to plastic and fabric. Here you can come across scattered clothes or colored giant posters depicting human organs. Expositions change frequently and you never know what the museum will surprise next time.
Cost of the visit: For visitors, under 18 years old the entrance to the museum is free, for temporary exhibitions and panoramas.
Ticket price for youth (18-25 years old) – €11, for adults – €14. Working hours: every day, except Tuesday, from 11:00 to 22:00.
Soumaya Museum (Mexico City, Mexico)
First of all, as it often happens with museums of modern art, the unusual shape of the building attracts attention. Because of its appearance, the museum was called “Anvil”.
Not only the shape of the structure is remarkable, but also its futuristic facade. It consists of 28 curved steel columns, each of which is covered with hexagonal aluminum plates.
At the same time, there are absolutely no windows in the museum. Their absence is explained not only by the architect’s special solution but also by the fact that the works of art here need protection from sunlight. Part of the light penetrates into the structure due to the small opening between the roof and the top floor. It is a private museum, which displays the personal collection of the center owner Carlos Slim and his late wife Soomaya, after whom the museum is named.
It’s one of the largest in the world and the largest in Latin America. The total value of the works of art is over 700 million dollars. The museum exposition occupies 6 floors of the building, and it is more than 5.5 thousand square meters. The rest of the premises were given to the auditorium, library, restaurant, various office premises, and shops.
What to see: The Soumaya Museum presents more than 6 thousand paintings and sculptures. Among the famous exhibits, you can see classics – sculptures by Rodin, paintings by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as works by modernists – Matisse, Diego Rivera, Monet, Van Gogh. In addition to paintings and sculptures, there are objects of May culture and a collection of vintage coins from Mexico.
Cost of the visit: free entrance.
Working hours: Every day from 10.30 to 18.30.
Hamburg Railway Station (Museum of Modernity in Berlin, Germany)
In an old building of the former Hamburg Railway Station, which was built in 1847, is now the Museum of Modernity. Before that, in 1906, the Museum of Transport was located here.
After the war, the station was empty for a long time. But since the 1980s, the building has been adapted for art exhibitions. After the reconstruction of the building according to the plans of architect Josef Paul Kleichus in 1996, the Museum of Modern Art was opened in Hamburg railway station. Works from the National Gallery of Germany and the private collection of Berlin collector Erich Marx were transferred here.
It will be useful for tourists to know that inside the museum on one side of the entrance there is the best art literature shop in Berlin, and on the other side, there is a café, video archive and a hall for performances. Also, read the Budapest Weekend: How to spend a real European weekend in a budget and in a meaningful way When you come to Berlin’s Museum of Modern Art, you can take a free tour in German or English, which includes a tour of permanent exhibitions. The schedule of such programs can be found on the museum’s official website.
Cost of the visit: €14.
Opening Time: 10:00-18:00, 10:00-20:00, all – 11:00-18:00. Weekend – Monday.
National Gallery of Modern Art (Rome, Italy)
The National Gallery of Modern Art (Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderno, aka GNAM) is located in the picturesque Roman park of Villa Borghese. Under the roof of the XVII century mansion, there are two museums – the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderno (opened in 1883) and the Gallery of Modern Art (appeared in 1915).
National Gallery of Modern Art has one of the world’s largest collections of art of the XIX-XX centuries (about 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and installations). Most of the gallery’s exposition is paintings and sculptures. A special place is given to landscapes as well as representatives of various “-isms” – naturalism, impressionism, symbolism, futurism, cubism, surrealism and abstractionism.
What to see: There are masterpieces by Claude Monet, Van Gogh, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Auguste Rodin, Umberto Boccioni, Man Ray, Max Ernst, and many others. The full list of works can be found on the museum’s website.
Kröller-Mueller Park Museum (Otterlo, Netherlands)
The Kröller-Müller Museum and Sculpture Park are located in the heart of the Hoge Wieluwe National Park, 60 km from Amsterdam. It is one of the most unusual contemporary art museums in the world. It differs from the others, if only because it is in the open air.
An unusual idea of the museum was realized in the 1960s. A sculpture museum was established in the 25 ha Otterlo National Park. Integration with nature and the expansion of space for presentations allowed for a significant increase in expositions, and modern sculptors (among them Snelson, Christo, Serra) managed to realize their creative potential in open spaces.
It’s worth noting that the Kröller-Mueller Sculpture Park is one of the few museums in the world that can be used for a leisurely bike ride. Comfortable, free parking for two-wheelers is available on the museum grounds.
What to see: The open-air exhibition includes works by the best sculptors of the last century and modernity. Among them are Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Jean Dubuffet, Marc Di Suvero, Lucio Fontana, Claes Oldenburg, Fritz Wotruba and many others.
Cost of the visit: Children – € 10, adults – € 19.90.
Working hours: from 10:00 to 16:30, the day off – Monday.
Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai, China).
The China Art Museum in Shanghai is one of Asia’s largest art museums. It is an example of turning a nasty duckling into a beautiful swan.
The museum used to be an abandoned greenhouse in Shanghai People’s Park. But then architects took over, and the ruins were turned into a glass building of several tiers. The walls were laid out diagonally with black Mongolian stone, and glass and steel frames created the effect of repeated reflections and “dancing” building. Now MOCA is surrounded by other cultural centers – the Bolshoi Theatre of Shanghai, the Art Museum and the Shanghai Museum.
The exhibitions of the Shanghai Museum of Modern Art amaze with their unusual themes. There are works that cannot be seen anywhere else. For example, a collection of contemporary art from Indonesia, Hungary, Italy, and India, as well as an exhibition of Finnish design.
The Shanghai Museum of Modern Art also hosts temporary exhibitions. Now, for example, it is a presentation of street art Urban Graphic. Posters for changing exhibitions can be found on the museum’s website – besides Chinese, the menu is available in English.
Cost of the visit: Full ticket – 50 yuan, preferential – 25 yuan.
Working hours: Sunday-Thursday – 10:00-18:00, Friday-Saturday 9:00-19:00.
Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto, Canada)
The famous Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) was opened in 1857 and is considered one of the largest museums in Canada. 150 years later, it was talked about by the talented contemporary architect Daniel Libeskind. In 2007, he transformed the Neo-Romanesque church where the museum was located into an incredible structure in the form of crystals with sharp corners of glass and aluminum, which transformed the entire surrounding landscape.
Despite numerous disputes and discussions about the appearance of the Crystal, the Royal Museum of Canada was ranked among the five largest museums in North America and was also included in the seven architectural wonders of the world. The first place the visitor gets to is a large atrium called “House of Spirits”. Here you can constantly hear various sounds of nature echoing the voices of people.
The city of Toronto has decided to make it in the spirit of contemporary art by combining different styles and cultural currents. Metal columns made by modern sculptors have been placed on the platform where people are waiting for a subway train. They were decorated with hieroglyphs, Egyptian writings, faces of the Pharaohs and Maya Indians, recognizable elements of Chinese architecture. Despite the mix of styles that has caused a storm of criticism, this place is considered one of the most popular among tourists.
It is safe to say that if you are not a fan of contemporary art, it only means that you have not been to the right museum. Each of the cultural centers listed above will add something new to your aesthetic piggy bank. And most importantly – if you visit at least one of these interesting museums, you will see art differently.
What to see: The museum collection includes about 6 million exhibits and has over 40 galleries. Among the most recognizable are works by Poussin, Monet, Guardi, Gauguin, El Greco, and Van Gogh. The best examples of such currents as symbolism, impressionism, fauvism, and cubism are collected here.