We love cultural capitals like New York, London, and Paris – but they don’t have a monopoly on great museums.
There’s a whole world of alternative museum hotspots out there. Get off the beaten track and check out our favorite unconventional museum meccas from around the globe.
This ancient port city on the Baltic Sea has been a crossroads of culture and conflict for centuries. Gdańsk is home to the shiny new Museum of the Second World War, the award-winning European Solidarity Centre, and Westerplatte war memorial and historic site. If twentieth-century history isn’t your thing, check out the atmospheric Tower Clock Museum (located in the tower of an old church), National Maritime Museum, or outdoor art gallery Murals Gdańsk Zaspa.
Plus, museum social media gurus can rejoice: Gdańsk has free wifi throughout most of the city.
It may be affectionately known as ‘Winterpeg’, but this city’s museum circuit is heating up. We’ve worked with the city’s amazing Canadian Museum of Human Rights, but there are dozens more museums and galleries to explore. The Manitoba Museum, Winnipeg Art Gallery, and Leo Mol Sculpture Garden are just a few of the places that have put Winnipeg on the alternative hotspot map.
It should be a no-brainer that one of the world’s most populated cities is a museum hotspot. Yet outside of India, Delhi doesn’t always make the list of top museum destinations. It’s time for that to change.
As India’s capital, Delhi is home to many of the country’s flagship museums, including the National Gallery of Modern Art and the National Museum. And because Delhi has also been a crossroads of culture for centuries, it boasts no less than three UNESCO World Heritage Sites. That’s more than Amsterdam, Paris, and St Petersburg. Need we say more?
Sometimes overlooked in favor of Paris or Amsterdam on the Europe tourist route, Brussels punches way above its weight when it comes to museums. The Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Magritte Museum, Musical Instruments Museum, and Musée Belvue are only a short walking distance from one another.
If you’re looking for something a bit unconventional, Brussels has got you covered there too: the city is home to a toy museum, chocolate museum, comic strip museum, and even the Museum of Erotics and Mythology.
There’s whole lot more to African museums than just Egyptian mummies and pyramids. Kenya’s capital is a museum hotspot, boasting attractions such as the Nairobi National Museum, Nairobi Gallery, and the Nairobi Railway Museum – conveniently located next to a train station.
Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv might be Israel’s second-biggest city, but we think it deserves a gold medal for great museums and galleries. The Tel Aviv Museum of Art dominates the cultural scene with its cool architecture and great collections. But Tel Aviv has got plenty of other tricks up its sleeve too: the Museum of the Jewish People, Rubin Museum, and Bialik House are just a few of the reasons why this city is a museum hotspot.
San Antonio, Texas
Everything is bigger in Texas, including the museum scene. Explore San Antonio’s colonial roots by visiting four eighteenth-century Spanish missions and the Alamo for free. If that’s not enough to convince you, the city is also home to the fantastic San Antonio Museum of Art (housed in a former brewery) and one of the oldest cathedrals in the US.
The state capital of Tasmania has a lot more to offer than just devils. This comparatively small city offers museums for almost every interest. From the classic Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, to the eccentric Museum of Old and New Art, to the poignant Cascades Female Factory – where many of Australia’s female convicts were held – we think Hobart is a mini but mighty museum hotspot.
Brazil is blessed with beaches, rainforests, and festivals – but did you know it’s a museum mecca too? Curitiba boasts dozens of unique museums, and excellent urban planning and public transport make it easy to explore them all. Highlights include the Safety Exhibition Center, Holocaust Museum in Curitiba, and the eye-catching Oscar Niemeyer Museum.
When you’re tired of the traditional museum capitals, there’s a whole world of alternatives out there to explore. Wherever you are on the planet, chances are you’re not too far away from a museum hotspot.
Did we miss your favorite alternative museum hotspot? Share it with us!