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 and Prints, Film, Media and Performance, Painting and Sculpture, and Photography. Highlights include Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, and Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, and masterpieces by Giacometti, Hopper, Matisse, Monet, O’Keeffe, Pollock, Rothko, Warhol, and many others. The Philip Johnson-designed Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden contains works by Calder, Rodin, and Moore, and the museum also has a destination restaurant, The Modern, which overlooks the garden.
Home to some of the best collections of art in the world, museums in America boast many of the largest assemblages of works from the likes of Monet, Matisse, Willem de Kooning’s rare “door paintings,” and Edgar Degas’s wax and mixed-media sculptures, as well as Asian art. While the beloved New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and D.C.’s National Gallery of Art are must-visit cultural institutions, more novel contemporary destinations are making waves around the country. You have The Broad in Los Angeles, one of the most Instagrammed museums worldwide with its glittering Yayoi Kusama exhibition. Or how about the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, which hones in on experimental works through touring exhibitions, film screenings, and performing arts? And who can forget The Brooklyn Museum’s feminist exhibit and education center?
Spending a day perusing centuries of creative history is one of the best things to do, whether seeking a cultural fix in your town or taking a road trip, especially when more than 1,000 museums will be offering free entry one day this month. Here are, for our money, the best art museums in America. Afterward, check out these incredible art installations or some of the best graffiti walls across the country.