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Our Favorite Art Museums and the Art Within

While many vacations include travel to warm and sunny beaches, our family usually opts for art museums!

We feel so lucky to have been able to include so many art museums from all around the world in our travels. It was hard to narrow it down to our favorite, but here are the museums and artwork that stood out the most!


Jody’s Favorite Museums and the Art Within

1. St. Louis Museum of Art in St. Louis, MO

The St. Louis Museum of Art doesn’t appear to be a top contender on a national level, but this museum can stand on its own. The grounds, architecture, and artwork elevate this museum to a worth while must-see.

Whenever I enter a museum, I am first pulled towards the modern and contemporary galleries. The power, color, and bold marks excite the artist in me.

My own work focuses largely on the push and pull between positive and negative spaces. Robert Motherwell is an artist whose use of rich black paint and bold brush strokes inspires me. To view in the same space one of his paintings in contrast to the bright and colorful Mark Rothko was quite powerful. It was here where I was able to sit and find that moment in a museum that fills my soul.

2. Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, PA

Having one of the top art museums in the United States in our backyard, has made it a personal favorite for many reasons. The collections are diverse and accessible and the growth and restoration of the building continues to bring the incredibly vast collection to the community.

Our family has a particularly unique connection to the museum through my dad, Lance Balderson. We look forward to seeing his painting “Tryst” (now part of the permanent collection) on display in the future!

On display in 2017, "Tryst" by Lance Balderson.

3. MAXXI - National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome, Italy

The MAXXI is set off the beaten path. Situated in the northern part of the city, this museum is not easy to get to, but worth the trip. It pops up in the middle of a neighborhood with its impressive size and sharp lines. The structure itself begs for you to explore more.

The museum's interior spaces impressed me, almost more than the exhibits. The design of the museum forces you to be an art explorer, discovering the museum, galleries, and artwork without worry of a map or guide that most museums encourage you to follow. Brilliantly designed by Zaha Hadid, the MAXXI, takes art and architecture, and blurs the lines beyond any space I have been in before.


Maddey’s Favorite Museums and the Art Within

1. The Belvedere Museum in Vienna, Austria

The Belvedere Museum tops my list of favorite museums for a variety of reasons. The grounds and collections that this museum embraces are truly unique and diverse. The main gallery, sits amongst extensive and beautifully manicured grounds that are reminiscent of classic Austrian gardens.

On my visit, I enjoyed not only the Belvedere but the smaller galleries and exhibits included within its reach. The main gallery focused on what we could categorize as more classical art, while the independent galleries were classical spaces for contemporary artwork and installations.

We all have a piece of art, that takes your breath away and for me, it was “The Kiss” created by Gustave Klimt, one of my all time favorite artworks and artists. “The Kiss” is a piece of artwork widely publicized, but images of it do not do the piece justice. When you enter the Klimt room, there are no photos allowed, the ability to be unencumbered by technology gives you a true moment of connection without distraction. It is a room of people, all interacting with art in its most true and classic way, with their eyes and hearts.

2. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, NY

This was the first museum I went to that I found my own connection with art and the pieces that are on display. It was the first time, I felt ownership of my thoughts and ideas about galleries and the artwork within. The Museum of Modern Art checks off all the boxes of my favorite artists and artworks and makes art approachable and accessible.

While this museum is full of some of the most incredibly artworks in history such as; Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Monet’s Water Lillies, it is the room of artwork by Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns that steals my attention. Their artwork and personal relationship compliment each other in a truly beautiful way. Each time I go to the MoMA, I make a bullet run for this space, and each time, it never ceases to disappoint.

3. Tate Modern Museum in London, UK

This was a museum that had always been on my radar. It was a place I had wanted to go and finally was able to visit in spring of 2019. The building is brooding and feels intrusive, possibly even as if it was repelling visitors, but when you step into the gallery spaces, the impression of the exterior falls away.

The Tate Modern does so many things so well, one of which is displaying contemporary installation artworks which can be found all across the museum. The installations allow for both moments of fun and introspective thought, allowing visitors to find that unique emotional balance only the best museums can evoke.

It was a work by Ghanian sculptor, El Anatsui that was a personal favorite. While his metal and found object “tapestries” grace the walls of museums around the world, it was the scale and honest display of his work at the Tate that really created a gravitational pull.


There are so many museums from all around that world that hold beautiful and extensive collections crossing hundreds even thousands of years, but those 6, really captured our artistic imagination both in space and content.

Do you have a favorite museum or piece of artwork that really spoke to you? Let us know in the comments below!

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