After a two-year renovation based on a design by Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi, MoMA reopened in 2004 with almost double the space to display some of the most impressive artworks from the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. On the horizon is another expansion project, which will extend the museum into adjoining sites for an additional 50,000 square feet of gallery space. MoMA’s permanent collection encompasses seven curatorial departments: Architecture and Design, Drawings, Film, Media, Painting and Sculpture, Photography, and Prints and Illustrated Books. Highlights include Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Van Gogh’s The Starry Night and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, as well as masterpieces by Giacometti, Hopper, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol and many others. Outside, the Philip Johnson-designed Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden contains works by Calder, Rodin and Moore. The destination museum also contains a destination restaurant, the Modern, which overlooks the garden.
Of course, landmark art museums like NYC’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and D.C.’s National Gallery of Art are national treasures, but checking out an exceptional permanent collection or the latest exhibitions ranks among our favorite things to do in any urban destination. Since several cities have more than their fair share of standouts, we had to make some tough choices, but our short list includes some idiosyncratic gems among the encyclopedic art institutions. In our view, these are the best museums in the country for feasting your eyes on the finest paintings, sculptures, photography, installations and other visual art forms.