The Best Art Museums in the United States Buildings/Attractions

The Best Art Museums in the United States

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8,679 votes 1,025 voters 83,716 views 150 items tags f p @

List Criteria: Museums focusing on one artist (Andy Warhol, Georgia O'Keefe, Salvador Dali) have been excluded.

A list of the best museums in the United States that focus predominantly on art (paintings, sculpture, glass/porcelain/ceramics, and other visual media) voted on by the Ranker community. 

 When voting, consider the comprehensiveness of a collection if it's an encyclopedic museum such as the Art Institute in Chicago or the comprehensiveness of the period it represents such as the Museum of Modern Art.  If you feel you can judge the quality of a museum's collection, the museum's effectiveness in helping visitors understand what they're seeing, or other aspects that make that museum worthwhile, please do!
For the sake of maintaining the legitimacy of this list, please do not campaign vote. 


Information on holdings and size of collections (when available) is from Wikipedia, ArtCom, or the museum websites.

If you have a suggestion for a museum not listed here that deserves national recognition, please leave a comment requesting inclusion.  Thank you!

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List Photo: uploaded by AdmiralCrunch
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  1. 1
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    New York, NY - The Met is the largest art museum in the United States with over two million items in its collection. Famous for its Egyptian holdings and antiquities from other cultures, as well as complete ancient interiors built as permanent installations. 

    Possesses some of the most famous works by Vermeer, Velasquez, Jacques Louis David, Rembrandt, and many others. Also an important collection of Renaissance art, Asian art and porcelains, and a world-renowned collection of musical instruments, costumes and couture from designers such as Chanel, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga.
  2. 2
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    A comprehensive museum holding more than 450,000 works of art. Famous for impressionist, post-impressionist art and Ancient Egyptian artifacts. Also famous for one of the largest collections of Japanese art and pottery in the world.
  3. 3
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    A comprehensive museum with over 227,000 pieces. Includes famous collections of Flemish and Italian Renaissance art, Chinese porcelains, Persian and Turkish rugs, and one of the world's best exhibits of sculptures by Rodin. Also has important impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern art and a very large comprehensive collection of American art.
  4. 4
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    This is the second largest art museum in the U.S. (in square footage) after the Metropolitan in New York and has over 300,000 pieces (but also see the entry for the Brooklyn Museum). A comprehensive museum best known for impressionist, post-impressionist and American art. Also has a renowned collection of miniatures and one of the largest collections of Claude Monet paintings.  Also well-known for installations of African-American art, antique Asian art, and 20th Century furniture. 
  5. 5
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    Washington, DC - one of the largest art museums in the U.S. Possesses a major collection of renaissance art, including the only da Vinci piece in the Americas, Spanish art, Dutch masters, impressionists and in the East Wing, vast holdings in modern art.  The museum's collection consists of more than 115,000 prints, paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative objects.   

    The National Gallery was the largest recipient of European Masters work from the Kress Collection.  
  6. 6
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    A comprehensive museum containing about 45,000 works of art. Its collection is internationally known for Asian and Egyptian Art. Holdings include pieces by Botticelli, Caravaggio, El Greco, Rubens, Goya, Dalí, Matisse, Renoir, Gauguin, Corot, Eakins, Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Picasso, and many others. Actively acquiring later 20th-century art, such as important works by Warhol, Pollock, and Christo. 
  7. 7
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    Contains over 65,000 pieces. A comprehensive museum with important collections of Early European paintings old masters, armor, art of ancient cultures, and American art. Highlights include murals painted especially for the museum by Diego Rivera, the Wedding Dance by Peter Bruegel the Elder, and Auguste Rodin's The Thinker. Frequently considered among the top five art museums in the nation.  
  8. 8
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    The "eighth largest encyclopedic museum" in the U.S. with over 54,000 works.  Important collections in Japanese art, Chinese porcelain, American, and neo-impressionist art. Considered one of the leading museums in the development of the arts and art education for future generations. 
  9. 9
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    A comprehensive art institute with a famous collection of Egyptian art, Pacific Islander art, and one of the most important collections of American art (especially 19th Century). Known also for its new collection of 20th Century Feminist art.

    According to Wikipedia, the Brooklyn Museum holds 1.5 million works of art. 
  10. 10
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    New York, NY - Considered one of the greatest collections of art from the Impressionist period forward including some of the most famous works by Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali, Matisse, Henri Rousseau, and Andrew Wyeth. Holdings include about 150,000 works plus "22,000 films and 4 million film stills."  
  11. 11
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    The largest art museum in the Western U.S., holding a comprehensive collection of over 100,000 works including pieces by Titian, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Renoir. Highly regarded for its modern and contemporary galleries. 
  12. 12
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    A comprehensive museum holding about 80,000 works that span 5,000 years though only has the display space for about 5% of its collection.  Particularly known for Asian art, also has impressive collections of 17th Century Dutch Masters, Fauvist, Cubist, and Expressionist art. 
  13. 13
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    San Francisco, CA - Part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The museum contains over 124,000 works. Recognized for its European decorative arts, sculptures and paintings, ancient art from throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East, and one of the largest collections of works on paper in the country. Possesses important works by El Greco, Tiepolo, Monet, and bronze casts by Rodin. 

    The Legion of Honor received a significant number of European Masters' works from the Kress Foundation.  
  14. 14
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    Baltimore Museum of Art
    Photo: Vox Efx
    Holds about 90,000 works. Famous for the Cone Collection of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces, including the largest collection of Matisse. Also known for an impressive collection of African art, 20th and 21st Century Contemporary Art, and the ancient Antioch Mosaics from Antakya, Turkey.  
  15. 15
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    A comprehensive museum containing over 30,000 works of art. Known for impressive impressionist, Barbizon/plein-air, and post-impressionist art, antique Japanese and Korean decorative arts, and especially for its collection of 20th Century Expressionist, Max Beckmann. The museum's contemporary galleries include important pieces from Frank Stella, Ellsworth Kelly, and Robert Motherwell. 
  16. 16
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    Hartford, Connecticut - This is the oldest public art museum in the U.S. Its holdings of about 50,000 pieces are comprehensive from antique Roman, Greek, and Egyptian bronzes to European art and porcelains and American impressionists to an important collection of Hudson River School works and American clothing. 
  17. 17
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    Possesses a collection of over 65,000 works, including European masters such as Botticelli, Murillo, Rubens, and Franz Hals. Also holds Impressionist and Modern works including Corot, Renoir, Pisarro, Monet, and Picasso.
  18. 18
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    Kansas City, Missouri - A general art museum holding over 33,000 works. Especially known for its collection of Asian art; old master works such as paintings by Caravaggio, Titian, Bronzino, and Rembrandt, American art, and photography, including the entire Hallmark Photographic Collection. 

    The Nelson-Atkins was one of fifteen regional museums to be gifted European Masters work from the Kress Foundation.  
  19. 19
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    Yale University Art Gallery

    Yale University Art Gallery
    Photo: Jacqueline Poggi
    New Haven, CT - The Gallery’s permanent collection was founded in 1832 when the patriot-artist John Trumbull gave more than one hundred of his paintings to Yale College. Since that time, the collection has grown to number more than 200,000 objects representing Eastern and Western cultures and ranging in date from ancient times to the present day.
  20. 20
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    New York, New York - The Frick is a former private collection of steel baron, Henry Clay Frick who collected art he enjoyed living with though he decided his collection would be open to the public upon his death.  The museum is a small (over 1,100 works) but world-famous collection of Old Masters including Rembrandt, Vermeer, El Greco, Velasquez, and many others, displayed largely as it was in Frick's final years.  The collection possesses excellent examples of rococo artists Fragonard and Boucher, and their Veronese paintings once belonged to Sweden's Queen Christina.  The Frick is also known for furniture, bronzes, Chinese ornamental vases, Sevres and Limoges porcelains, and has recently acquired a collection of clocks dating from the 16th to 19th century.  

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