Museums are a short cut to understanding a place, they can tell you a lot about where it’s been where it is now and where it’s going. Science Museums, Technology Museums, Natural History Museums, Art Museums, National Museums-what do you want to learn? The Art Insider has the knowledge you need about the world’s Top Museums.
You can spend hours researching a city or country before you arrive, but if you haven’t the time before you touch down, its museums are the perfect places to soak up some local atmosphere and begin to understand the workings of the place.
As well as finding out about the city or country’s history you can also learn something about the priorities of its government and inhabitants. The buildings themselves can be telling, as can the value of the collection and the kind of pieces included, but the entrance prices and way the information is displayed also say a lot about who the museum is there for.
London is the example that first comes to mind. Home of the British Museum and several others of world renown, these major museums have recently had their usability and access much improved – the key thing being that the entry fees have been scrapped. This welcomes not only those who have money to spend on their own enlightenment but also people looking for a cheap outing, and means that visitors are free to plan for several shorter visits, to look at particular pieces or galleries they may be interested in, without fear of information overload. The public spaces of the British Museum and the V&A are quite welcoming and used not solely by museum visitors, but also by local passers by enjoying a civilized surrounding for their morning coffee. Add to these two quick visits to the local Science Museum and Natural History Museum and you’ll have an excellent idea of where the city of London comes from, the story of the wealth of its empire, the life of its citizens then and now, the role it has played in international history and its priorities in the way it’s seen by both visitors and residents.