What Art Museums Are Can’t-Miss Visits?

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If you need an instant education on fine art, any of these museums or galleries can get you up to speed in no time.

Uffizi, Italy

Opera has La Scala. Music has Carnegie Hall. And art? It has the Uffizi. Although the Florentine museum is one of the biggest in the world, it still doesn’t have enough space to hang everything on its walls. It’s constantly switching in works by Caravaggio, Da Vinci, Raphael, and company—so each visit is sure to be different from the last.

Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

The Barnes has the finest collection of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings anywhere, owning $25 billion worth of precious paintings. The collection of Renoir and Matisse masterpieces moved to Philadelphia from the suburbs in 2012.

Paula Cooper Gallery, NYC

In the 1970s, Paula Cooper raised eyebrows by opening a gallery in the lower Manhattan neighborhood of Soho. Critics called it a bonehead move. Who would want to see art in SoHo? Everybody, apparently! Within 10 years, there were some 80 galleries in the neighborhood. Today, Paula Cooper is the gold standard for minimalist and contemporary art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC

In early 2013, the Met announced it was receiving 78 important Cubist paintings from the cosmetics giant Leonard Lauder. With its coffers stuffed with modernist masterworks, the Met may be the best museum in the world.

White Cube, London

In the early 1990s, a new art movement swept Britain. The Young British Artists flooded warehouses and factories with shocking, subversive works of art. The White Cube contemporary gallery was one of the first to open the door, letting them into the formal art world. It’s still carrying on that legacy, ushering in edgy, new talent.

Louvre-Lens, France

Lens, France is not your typical tourist town. Surrounded by slag heaps and mired in unemployment, the tiny village was an unlikely choice for the Louvre’s newest museum. The main museum in Paris lends its artwork to the gallery, giving the post-industrial town a boost and drawing tourists to the northern countryside.