Top 10 art museums, in my humble opinion

Every time I travel, which has only been domestically, I try to visit a local art museum, gallery or exhibit. Viewing art, not just photography, is one of my favorite pastimes. Luckily I have people in my life that share my love of art as well.  I’d like to take this opportunity to share my favorites with you all. (Disclaimer: I haven’t been to New York, therefore the Met isn’t on my list yet)

My top ten favorite exhibits/museums:

1) The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Ill.

The Art Institute of Chicago in my opinion the quintessential art museum and it happens to be the very first art museum I visited in my life; for that reason it holds a dear place in my heart.  With art like Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte and my favorite Thorne Miniature Rooms the Art Institute is a classic that can’t be missed. While you are there don’t forget to visit the other museums know as the museum campus: The Field Museum, The Shedd Aquarium, The Adler Planetarium, and of course Millenium Park.

2) Annenberg Space for Photography, Century City, Calif.

100% photography. 100% free admission. I have another blog entry that is dedicated to the Annenberg, for more information please take a moment to read my earlier entry here.

Photograph of the exterior architecture of the Annenberg Space for Photography.

Annenberg Space for Photography in Century City, Calif. (Photo by Stephanie Grumbeck ©2011)

3) Taubman Museum of Art, Roanoke, Va.

I was in Virginia for a wedding, my friend and I discovered the Taubman in downtown Roanoke.  We were both pleasantly surprised by what we found.  The architecture of the building was amazing and progressive set amidst the old brick buildings from 1902. A docent at the museum told us that the local environment was inspiration for the building’s design; the architect, Randall Stout, included native resources such as “hokie” stone in the construction. Different elements of the local surroundings such as the Blue Ridge Mountains, local rivers and the Roanoke Star are all represented in the architecture.  So if you LOVE art and architecture the Taubman is the place to go when you are in Roanoke.

Photograph of the exterior architecture of the Taubman Museum of Art.

Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Va. (Photo by Stephanie Grumbeck ©2010)

4) The Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Salvador Dali is my favorite painter so finding a museum dedicated to his work was amazing!  You would think that the only place you would find a museum dedicated to Dali would be in his native Spain.  My close friend and fellow Dali admirer visited the Dali-Theatre Museum in Figueres, Spain and they told her that the most impressive collection of his work could be found in St. Petersburg, Florida. Seeing his canvases in personal was impressive, I had no idea how large some of them are; my favorite piece, The Hallucinogenic Toreador, is almost 13 ft by 10 ft (157 in by 118 in).

5) Ashes and Snow and the Nomadic Museum, Santa Monica, Calif., 2006

Ashes and Snow is a traveling multimedia exhibit by artist Gregory Colbert.  Inside this magical place you will find still photography, film, and an outstanding audio experience. The exhibit is housed in the Nomadic Museum which is the world traveling home to Ashes and Snow.  The exhibit seems to be on a hiatus, but it has been to Tokyo, Mexico City, New York, Venice, and Santa Monica.  If it travels to a town near year, it is an ethereal experience you won’t forget.

6) MCASD, La Jolla, Calif.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in La Jolla is nestled on a fantastic piece of southern California real estate.  Enjoy views of the Pacific Ocean while viewing some of the best contemporary art from around the world.  Don’t forget to visit the Edwards Sculpture Garden just outside the back doors of the MCASD, my favorite piece in their collection is Nancy Rubins’ Pleasure Point, which is a life sized sculpture of boats.

7) MCA, Denver, Colo.

While on a quick 36 hour trip to Denver, Colo., I made sure to squeeze in a visit to a local art museum the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (MCA).  They had some wonderful exhibits at the time and I was in love with the neighborhood that MCA calls home.  Did I mention that they have a roof top cafe?

8) Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego, Calif.

100% photography.  Does it surprise you that a photographer has two photography museums on her top 10?  The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA)  is an understated museum but its exhibits make up for its lack of space. The museum is located in San Diego’s diverse Balboa Park , which is an incredible way to spend a day in San Diego. Also located within Balboa Park is the San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, Timken Museum of Art, and many other museums and attractions.

9) SFMOMA, San Francisco, Calif.

The Museum of Modern Art is located in downtown San Francisco and offers fantastic exhibits of modern and contemporary art…one hint, look for Waldo when looking out the windows at the beautiful San Francisco skyline.

10) The Getty Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

The Getty Center is another museum with free admisssion (there is a parking fee, so pack the car full of friends and make a day of it), but what is most impressive is where it is located.  The Getty brings to life the old adage “location, location, location,” located on the top of a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, The Getty Center overlooks the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica, and the urban landscape of Los Angeles.  Another noteworthy thing about the Getty is the architecture designed by architect Richard Meier. Don’t forget to visit my favorite part of the Getty Center the Center for Photography.

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