Architect Philip Johnson, described it as the greatest building of our time. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (designed by architect Frank Gehry), is one of the most world-renowned contemporary museum buildings. The 256,000 square foot museum is still pretty new, it opened in 1997, but it’s already well-respected thanks to its impressive permanent collection (featuring works by Mark Rothko, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra). When it was opened, the museum had more space than the New York and Venice Guggenheim museums combined.

During the French Revolution, the National Assembly declared the building should be used as a museum. The Louvre, happens to be one of the world’s largest, stretching over 650,000 square feet. The grounds themselves, have held an important place in French history (since the late 12th century, when Philip II built a fortress on the site). When, in 1792, Louis XVI was imprisoned, the royal collection in the Louvre was deemed public property, and the museum officially opened the next year. The collection has continued to increase throughout the years. The classic building’s iconic modern element (the controversial glass pyramid, designed by American architect Ieoh Ming Pei), was finished in 1989 and serves as the entrance to the museum.

These twin buildings, were constructed across a large square from one another (both opening to the public in 1889). The museums, were commissioned by the Emperor in order to offer a suitable shelter for the impressive art collection of the royal Habsburg family. The rectangular buildings are each topped with a nearly 200-foot tall dome. Inside, the museums are adorned with marble, paintings and stucco ornamentations. Both museums are impressive (the artwork at the Museum of Art History is world class), but the Museum of Natural History remains one of the most important of such museums.

Not wanting to see his collection broken up after his death, he left it to King George II. The creation of the British Museum, can be attributed to one man: physician and naturalist Sir Hans Sloane (who gathered an impressive collection of around 71,000 antiquities, artifacts, and artworks during his lifetime). In 1753, King George and Parliament, created the British Museum, with the collection from Sloane and two library collections, (including one assembled by Sir Robert Cotton that dated back to Elizabethan times.

The current building featuring both gothic and renaissance elements, was designed by Pierre Cuypers (and opened to the public in 1885). While many museums have had to change locations, the main building of the Rijksmuseum still looks practically the same. Other structures, have been added to hold the collection of over one million objects, and the main building has had to go through a lot of renovations (only recently reopening after a ten year restoration phase). The museum, has around 8000 items from their total collection on display (including world-famous works by Dutch masters such as Rembrandt, Johannes Vermeer and Jan Steen).


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