On Tuesday, TripAdvisor announced this year’s Traveler’s Choice awards for the best museums in the U.S. and around the world.
Based on thousands of user reviews and ratings, these cultural sites represent the very best the country has to offer in the worlds of art, history and sciences. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of reviews for museums around the world, gathered over a 12-month period.
And while every city in the U.S. has something unique to offer tourists, New York City leads the way with three museum spots on the top 10 list. The Big Apple's very own Metropolitan Museum of Art also captured the highly coveted title of best museum in the world.
1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art – New York City, New York
The "Met" is an American institution and a must-see museum on a trip to New York-- but don't expect to be able to fit in every exhibit in a day. Since 1870, this iconic institution on Manhattan’s Upper East Side has strived to “connect people to creativity, knowledge and ideas” through art. Guests will have the chance to view the most extensive display of 17th century Dutch art in the Western Hemisphere, with masterpieces by Frans Hals, Rembrandt and Vermeer. Recommended admission: adults – $25, seniors – $17, students – $12; guests under 12 get in free
2. Art Institute of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois
This world-renowned Windy City museum houses nearly 300,000 works including one of the most expansive collections of modern art with pieces such as Picasso’s “Old Guitarist;” O’Keeffe’s “Black Cross;” and Matisse’s “Bathers by a River.” A TripAdvisor reviewer commented, “Plan on spending at least three hours in this beautiful place. I could not believe they had an entire room full of original Monets, Jackson Pollock, Warhol, and Johns – yes please!” Admission: adults – $25, seniors and students – $19 each; guests under 14 get in free
3. The National WWII Museum – New Orleans, Louisiana
Spread across a six-acre campus in the heart of New Orleans, this museum provides detailed narratives of World War II through interactive exhibits, original artifacts and personal accounts as told by veterans. Guests can also view the U.S.S. Tang, which educates travelers about the final mission of the U.S. Navy’s first submarine. Admission: adults – $24, seniors – $21, students and children – $15
4. The Getty Center – Los Angeles, California
With lush gardens and cascading fountains, the Getty Center is the perfect place to spend a day in L.A. Collections include Greek and Roman antiquities, European paintings, drawings, and photographs. Travelers will see brilliant creations by Rembrandt, Jean-François Millet, Vincent van Gogh and more. “The Getty Center is an architectural masterpiece that encompasses both a collection of museums and an outdoor garden. Not only does the Getty provide an escape from the hectic city, but also a great view of the urban skyline,” said a TripAdvisor reviewer. Admission: free, parking is $15 per car
5. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum – Washington, D.C.
One of the most popular attractions on the National Mall, this sprawling museum is home to the world’s largest display of aviation and space artifacts. It also offers an array of activities, lectures and performances. Travelers can view nearly two million photographs and 60,000 relics including space helmets and microchips. “History is hanging from the ceiling, bolted to the floor, encased in bullet-proof glass. It's impossible to not be nostalgic and even emotionally invested to some extent when you visit!” wrote a TripAdvisor reviewer of the space-themed museum. Admission: free
6. National Gallery of Art – Washington, D.C.
Since opening to the public in 1941 in the heart of the nation’s capital, the National Gallery of Art has housed some of the most significant pieces from the Renaissance era to modern day. Travelers will marvel at the brushwork of Monet, Picasso, Titian and even Leonardo di Vinci’s only painting in the U.S., “Ginevra de’Benci.” Admission: free
7. Frick Collection – New York City, New York
Established in 1935, this premier museum just 10 blocks south of the Met operates from the former estate of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. Travelers can learn about more than 1,100 works of art dating from the Renaissance to the late 19th century, with pieces by Bellini, Gainsborough, Whistler and more. A TripAdvisor reviewer noted, “I've seen classical art collections all over, but this has to rate as one of the very best. Jaw-dropping in its comprehensiveness and number of truly great (and even famous) pieces.” Admission: adults and seniors – $20 each, students – $10; children under 10 not permitted
8. Chihuly Garden and Glass – Seattle, Washington
Showcasing the magnificent works of the great glass blower, Dale Chihuly, this museum in the Seattle Center near the iconic Space Needle is a must-see. Travelers can explore the “Garden” where they will view monumental sculptures including the magenta “Crystal,” vibrant “Icicle Towers” and the vivid purple “Reeds on Logs” installation. Admission: adults and students – $23 each, seniors – $18, children – $14
9. USS Midway Museum – San Diego, California
This historic vessel—which has been called a “city at sea”-- invites travelers to relive world history aboard the longest-serving Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. History buffs can view the engine room, flight control and sleeping quarters while enjoying a self-guided audio tour. “The museum displays are incredibly informative. The audio tour is concise and allows each visitor to individualize their experience. The veterans on board were helpful and I felt honored to talk with them,” added a TripAdvisor reviewer. Admission: adults – $20, seniors – $17, students – $15, children – $10
10. American Museum of Natural History – New York City, New York
With 45 permanent exhibitions including the “Arthur Ross Hall of Meteorites” and the stunning “Hall of Birds of the World” diorama, the Museum of Natural History is an iconic New York experience. A TripAdvisor reviewer wrote, “Whether you are into the dinosaurs or space, prehistoric civilizations or Native American tribes, forest mammals or creatures of the sea, this place has it all.” Recommended admission: adults – $22, seniors and students – $17 each, children – $13