A last look at some of the world’s largest and most well curated modern art galleries.
Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France
With a focus on the first half of the modern art movement, rather than contemporary artists, the gallery collection consists mostly of French art from 1850 to 1915. This includes one of the largest collections of impressionist and post-impressionist masterpieces including work by Monet, Manet, Renoir, Degas, Cézanne, Seurat, Van Gogh and Gaugin.
The building was originally a train station that fell out of use and was very nearly demolished in 1970 until French Cultural Minister Jacques Duhamel pushed for the building to be listed, which was followed by an idea from the Museum of France to create an art gallery which bridged the gap between the contemporary art of the Pompidou Centre, and the classic Louvre. It re-opened in 1986 and keeps around 3000 pieces on display at any one time.
Castello di Rivoli Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy
Located in a historic 9th Century castle, which spent most of it’s life owned by royalty, only to fall into misuse during the 1800s, and would largely stay that way for the next century. In the 1980s it was restored and re-opened as the first of Italy’s contemporary art galleries, and built a permanent collection tracing the development of contemporary art from the 1960s to present, focusing on seminal pieces from Italian artists in particular.
It also includes the Cerruti collection which includes art by Bacon, Magritte, Picasso, Renoir, Kandinsky and Warhol, and an extensive library of books covering modern and contemporary art theory. Events such as theatre performances and film festivals are regularly held alongside an excellent program of exhibitions which have covered a vast range of modern and contemporary art from Italy, and the wider world.
Hamburg Bahnhof (Museum für Gegenwart), Berlin, Germany
Housed in the old Museum of Transport building, the Museum of Modernity has been exhibiting art since the 1980s, after sitting empty for many years post-war. A major reconstruction of the building was carried out in 1996 when it re-opened as a dedicated museum of modern art, establishing a collection from the National Gallery of Germany and private collector Erich Marx.
The building includes an extensive art literature shop, video archive, performance hall, and permanent displays of pieces from the 1950s onwards by Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, and Joseph Beuys, with an exhibition hall showing contemporary late 20th century pieces loaned from private collectors.
Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain
The New York Guggenheim is amongst the most famous and impressive art galleries in the world, but it also has a European cousin in the Guggenheim Bilbao. Set in a spectacular building with vast interiors conceived for exhibiting large, custom-made works, it offers a superb rotating roster of special contemporary exhibitions year round.
The permanent collection focuses on the 20th century, with a large number of installations and digital works, as well as great pieces from surrealism, cubism, postmodernism, and abstractionism by artists including Rothko, Warhol, Picasso, Chagall, Kandinsky, and de Kooning.
Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rome, Italy
Established in 1883, Italy’s National Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art contains one of the world’s largest collections of 19th and 20th century artworks, with a focus on paintings and sculptures representing naturalism, impressionism, symbolism, futurism, cubism, abstractionism, and surrealism.
From a collection of around 20,000 pieces, over 1,000 are on display at any one time, including the work on Monet, Van Gogh, Degas, Rodin, Man Ray, Ernst, Cézanne, Duchamp, Kandinsky, Pollock, and Mondrian. There is also an extensive collection of modern art by Italian artists such as Balla, Burri, de Chirico, Modigliani, Corcos, and Morandi.