It’s no secret that cruising offers you a convenient holiday to various locations around the world. You could be in one country today and another one tomorrow – all while travelling onboard a luxury floating hotel and without unpacking a thing – BONUS!
History buffs and cultural connoisseurs will have a field day as they visit important and historic museums, with artistic collections representing the ages, numbering in their thousands (and even millions!). As one of the many highlights of cruising are these historically rich and culturally interesting places to visit around the world. And that’s apart from, well, literally EVERYTHING that you can experience onboard – you have your accommodation, multiple dining choices, destinations, exciting entertainment options and a whole lot of fun for everyone, all rolled into one amazing cruise.
In this blog, we list down many of the world’s best museums that deserve your attention – and all easily accessible via a cruise, tour or river ship. Let’s begin with…
Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg
The State Hermitage Museum, located in St. Petersburg, is the second-largest art museum in the world, home to a staggering collection of over three million items, with a third of these comprised of numismatic objects (such as coins, medals, and paper currency).
The museum complex is comprised of several buildings on the Palace Embankment and its neighbourhoods, six of which can be accessed by the public. These are: The Winter Palace, Small Hermitage, Old Hermitage, New Hermitage, the Hermitage Theatre, The Great Hermitage, and the Menshikov Palace.
Inside, you’ll find one of the most stunning art collections from West Europe in existence with exceptional paintings and sculpture from the Italian and Spanish Renaissance. Explore rooms and rooms dedicated to Egyptian antiquities, pre-historic art, sparkling jewellery, Russian history and more. If you consider yourself a history buff, the Hermitage is the place to be!
Uffizzi Gallery, Florence
Located in the historic center of Tuscan Florence Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi is one of the most prominent art galleries of Italy, if not the world. Host to a huge collection of priceless works of art, this museum is host to the quintessential beauty of the Italian Renaissance, as well as showcasing works of important modern artists. As the most visited art gallery in Italy, it’s popularity can mean that in July, waiting times can be up to 5 hours – so it’s great to join the cruise excursions to jump the queue!
Inside, you’ll find many works from iconic artists such as Michelangelo’s superlative statue of David, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Adoration of the Magi, Raphael’s Madonna of the Goldfinch, and Andrea del Verrocchio’s The Baptism of Christ. Other fine art’s from the equally illustrious Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Piero Di Cosimo, Albrecht Durer, Giotto, Botticelli and many more.
Speaking of Rome…
The Vatican Museums, Rome
When you visit Rome, it is an absolute must to visit the Vatican Museums, to explore the collections and displays of Christian art that have been amassed throughout the centuries. It’s iconic and much visited Sistene Chapel with its central fresco of the Creation of Adam by Michaelangelo. Winding marble staircases lined in gold, maps from centuries past, reliquaries, artwork, sculptures, delicate silk paintings and tapestries, silver, gold, platinum and jewels from all corners of the world – simply fascinating.
And that’s not all! Egyptian, Greek and Roman collections huddle next to several important masterpieces from the Italian Renaissance. The cultural, spiritual and artistic endeavours of mankind housed in the Ethnological museum, the classical animal sculptures of the Museo Pio Clementino, and the Museo Chiaramonti where you can find rare antique masterpieces from ancient Greek and Rome… and there’s more to see!
In 2017, these museums had over 6 million visitors making the Vatican complex of museums the fourth most visited art museums in the world, and is a pilgrimage for any visitor to Rome.
Sneaky note: The Vatican Museum is open FREE to the public on the last Sunday of each month. If you are here then, expect really long lines (unless you have planned ahead or are on a tour that includes special fast-track entry)!
Guggenheim Museum, New York
The Guggenheim is home to an ever-expanding collection of early Modern and Contemporary art, featuring both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist artists work, as well as the uniquely designed Frank Lloyd Wright building itself, with its famous spiralling ramps leading up the rotunda.
Apart from the stunning works housed here, the Guggenheim hold unique and interesting exhibits many of which are open to the public. Back in 1998, The Art of the Motorcycle, that brought in a landmark number of people from around the world – as you can imagine, the subject ensured it as one of their most popular shows.
Since you’re already in New York and looking for some culture, a visit to our next museum on the list…
The Met, New York
“The Met” is short for the Metropolitan Museum of Art – also located on Fifth Avenue in New York, just down from the Guggenheim, and the third most visited art museum in the world. Home to over two million works of art, this gallery/museum is also considered one of the largest.
From classic antiques and sculptures from almost all of the important European masters, to an extensive collection of American modern art. A vast selection of etchings and drawings, American and Asian art and artefacts, monumental buildings (the Egyptian Temple of Dendur is housed here!), African art, Medieval structures, as well as encyclopaedic collections of musical instruments, furnishings, jewellery, armoury and weapons, costumes and accessories. Personally, I was fascinated by the huge array of pottery from ancient times, native lands and modern-day artists.
Just like the Guggenheim, the Met is also known to host notable special exhibitions, drawing in people from around the world.
The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities, Cairo
Built in 1901 and known commonly as the Egyptian Museum or the Museum of Cairo, this important museum contains archaeological artefacts of ancient Egypt and is home to the world’s largest collection of Pharaonic antiquities. Uniquely, this museum’s drawcard is the golden facemask of the 18th dynasty boy-Pharaoh Tutankhamun, seen by all who visit, since it was sensationally rediscovered in the 1920’s by Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon. Tutankhamun’s magnificent tomb provided chariots, household goods, statuettes, golden jewellery and precious stones, religious artefacts as well as the untouched beauty of tomb paintings.
This is only the start of antiquities on show – think mummies (not just people mummies – we are talking animals, birds, reptiles and more – in various stages of wrappings and mummification), figurines, delicate jewellery, enormous statues, my favorite a wide range of pottery – including (so exciting) pre-dynastic Badarian pots!
While you’re in Egypt, take a Nile cruise and a visit to the archaeological wonders of Luxor – famous for its huge temple structures, grave goods, as well as the nearby Valley of the Kings. Known as the “Gateway to the Afterlife”, the valley houses massive public monuments to Egyptian pharaohs of times past, as well as elaborate tombs and evidence of the elaborate preparations that bodies go through, in preparation for the afterlife – including the tomb of Tutankhamun – well worth a visit.
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