10 Largest Museums in the World

Museums are great fun for curious people who love to learn about the world around them. From natural sciences to art and industry, there are museums all around the globe for people to enjoy. Some of the most popular museums have reached staggering sizes as a result of their traffic, as well!

So, just how big can the largest museums get? Today we’ll be looking at the 10 largest museums in the world and ranking them according to how much gallery or exhibit space they have. We’ll also learn some fun facts about the background and contents of each one!

  1. Art Institute of Chicago

Gallery Size: 26,000 square meters (280,000 square feet)
Location: Chicago, USA
Date Opened: 1879
Theme: Art

Art_Institute_of_Chicago  Source: wikimedia.org

The Art Institute of Chicago was originally founded both as a museum and a school, and it is one of the oldest museums in the United States. This wonderful museum displays pieces from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Georges Seurat, and Georgia O’Keeffe. In fact, Georgia O’Keeffe’s painting Sky Above Clouds IV is the largest piece in the museum at 24 by 8 feet!

Did you know? 

The two lions that stand outside the museum building are named “on the prowl” and “stands in an attitude of defiance”.

  1. National Museum of Korea

Gallery Size: 27,090 square meters (291,600 square feet)
Location: Seoul, South Korea
Date Opened: 1945
Theme: Korean history and art

National_Museum_of_Korea  Source: wikimedia.org

History, archaeology, and art are all featured on the three floors of the National Museum of Korea, which focuses on displaying various artifacts of Korean culture. The museum is also laid out symbolically, with everything on the left side of the building representing the past, and everything on the right side symbolizing the future! This museum has also established numerous other branches throughout 12 Korean cities.

Did you know? 

The museum’s first floor focuses on Prehistory and Ancient History, the second features Calligraphy and Painting, and the third displays Sculpture and Crafts.

  1. Victoria and Albert Museum

Gallery Size: 30,000 square meters (320,000 square feet)
Location: London, UK
Date Opened: 1852
Theme: Arts and design

Victoria_and_Albert  Source: wikimedia.org

The impressive Victoria and Albert Museum is the largest applied and decorative arts and design museum in the world. It was named in honor of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and is commonly known as the V&A Museum. The massive collection of 4.5 million objects or more spans 145 galleries and features pieces from ancient eras to modern times!

Did you know? 

This museum is located near London’s Natural History Museum and Science Museum.

  1. National Museum of Anthropology

Gallery Size: 33,000 square meters (360,000 square feet)
Location: Mexico City, Mexico
Date Opened: 1964
Theme: Anthropology in Mexico

National_Museum_of_Anthropology  Source: wikimedia.org

The National Museum of Anthropology is Mexico’s most visited and largest museum, and it is managed by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. The displays come together to offer visitors a comprehensive look at the history of Mexico’s people, with some artifacts dating all the way back to the pre-Hispanic period. The collection stretches throughout two massive floors and includes everything from pottery and ancient sculptures to human remains.

Did you know? 

While the current museum wasn’t opened until 1964, the museum building actually dates back to 1825.

  1. Tokyo National Museum

Gallery Size: 38,000 square meters (410,000 square feet)
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Date Opened: 1872
Theme: Japanese culture and history

Tokyo_National_Museum  Source: wikimedia.org

The Tokyo National Museum used to focus more exclusively on the arts, but has since grown to encompass a more comprehensive snapshot of Japanese culture and the history of Japan. The exhibits still include a vast sampling of Japanese arts, displaying everything from calligraphy and sculpture to swords and metalwork. The museum also houses 89 of Japan’s National Treasures!

Did you know? 

While this museum focuses overwhelmingly on Japanese culture and history, it displays some artifacts from other parts of Asia as well.

  1. Vatican Museums

Gallery Size: 43,000 square meters (460,000 square feet)
Location: Rome, Italy
Date Opened: 1506
Theme: Art

Vatican_Museums  Source: wikimedia.org

The Vatican Museums include a grand total of 54 different museums within their complex and house one of the largest collections of artwork in the world. The Vatican Museums trace their beginnings all the way back to Pope Julius II’s decision to display the famous statue “Apollo of the Belvedere” in the Octagonal Courtyard. The courtyard then collected numerous other statues, eventually growing into the magnificent and versatile attraction it is today.

Did you know? 

The Vatican Museums employ around 640 people in 40 different departments to keep everything well-maintained!

  1. Metropolitan Museum of Art

Gallery Size: 58,820 square meters (633,100 square feet)
Location: New York City, USA
Date Opened: 1872
Theme: Art

Metropolitan_Museum_of_Art  Source: wikimedia.org

Few museums are as world-famous as the Metropolitan Museum of Art! This museum is commonly nicknamed “The Met,” and it boasts the largest and most well-rounded art collection in all of New York City. The art on display at The Met showcases a plethora of different mediums, including metal, gemstones, fabric, feathers, shells, and much more.

Did you know? 

Before 2013 and the rise in metal prices, visitors to the Met were given metal buttons to wear on their lapels as proof of admission.

  1. National Museum of China

Gallery Size: 65,000 square meters (700,000 square feet)
Location: Beijing, China
Date Opened: 1959
Theme: Imperial history of China

National_Museum_of_China  Source: wikimedia.org

While many tourists tend to prioritize iconic attractions such as the Forbidden City and the Great Wall of China, the National Museum of China is well worth a visit as well! This museum offers guests the opportunity to learn all about the anthropological history of China. The current museum that you can visit today was formed in 2003 through the merger of the National Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution.

Did you know? 

In 2018, the National Museum of China was the second most visited museum in the world after the Louvre.

  1. State Hermitage Museum

Gallery Size: 66,842 square meters (719,480 square feet)
Location: St. Petersburg, Russia
Date Opened: 1852
Theme: Art

State_Hermitage_Museum  Source: wikimedia.org

The State Hermitage Museum opened to visitors in 1852, but is considered to have officially been established with Empress Catherine the Great’s acquisition of numerous pieces of art from Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky in 1764. Some of the pieces were later sold during the early 1930s in order to underwrite purchases of western machinery driven by rapid industrialization. Today’s massive collection is housed in five interconnected buildings!

Did you know? 

This museum is home to nearly three million items of varying ages that date anywhere from the Stone Age to the present day.

  1. State Hermitage Museum

Gallery Size: 72,735 square meters (782,910 square feet)
Location: Paris, France
Date Opened: 1793
Theme: Art

The_Louvre  Source: wikimedia.org

The Louvre is the largest museum in the world in terms of gallery floor space. It is also notable as a historic monument and welcomed 9.6 million visitors in 2019 alone! The building was originally constructed under Philip II as the Louvre Castle, and it has served as the home for several of the Kings of France. Only 537 paintings were displayed when the museum first opened, but now there are more than 35,000 pieces of art on display!

Did you know? 

This museum was actually closed from 1796 until 1801 as a result of structural issues with the building.

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