Cubists in a cube, Málaga, Spain
On a recent trip to Málaga, I was blown away by the Pompidou Centre (€9) near the wonderful redeveloped pier. It’s worth visiting just to experience the architectural beauty of the centre itself and we spent some time taking in the beautiful coloured-glass cube from the inside and outside. Inside there are famous works by various big names, including Pablo Picasso. The semi-permanent collection celebrates a century of Spanish art and for me the works of Joan Miró were a highlight. When I was there the centre also hosted a display of contemporary Spanish artists.
Louisiana in Copenhagen
As a student I briefly lived in Denmark and fell in love with the art gallery Louisiana (DKK145/£17). A quick train ride from Copenhagen, glimpsing views over the Nivå Bugt toward Sweden, takes you to the gallery. Louisiana is part of its landscape, repeatedly framing it through its huge windows. I love the solitary Giacometti figure that left me with a lasting impression of aloneness as a state of grace and power. The Louisiana is the perfect combination of building design, art and setting. Current exhibitions include Andy Warhol, Alex Da Corte and Cindy Sherman.
A photographic history of Albania
The Marubi National Museum of Photography (adult Lek 700/£5) in the northern city of Shkodër is a marvel. Italian-born photographer Pietro Marubi opened the first photography studio in Albania here in the mid-19th century, when the country was under Ottoman rule. Over three generations he, his apprentice Kel and Kel’s son Gegë documented a fascinating period of Albanian history, from the beginnings of the Albanian independence movement, through the Balkan and second world wars, to communism under Enver Hoxha. The collection of pictures on display beautifully show all walks of life – revolutionaries, farmers, politicians, musicians, religion, the amazing variety of Albanian traditional dress, and more.
On a Bauhaus pilgrimage, Leipzig, Germany
I was blown away by the Grassi Museum (€8). It has an amazing array of beautiful artefacts from antiquity to present day. I was on a Bauhaus pilgrimage so my favourite was the early 20th-century holdings. You could be overwhelmed by the number of exhibits in this beautiful art deco building – there are music and ethnology museums too within the Grassi – but the layout is superb. I found Leipzig to be marvellous; a far cooler and more manageable city than Berlin.
We left feeling wiser, Amsterdam
On the edge of the beautiful Oosterpark in central Amsterdam is the stunning Tropen Museum (€16). The extraordinarily beautiful building was built as a tribute to the Dutch territories but now houses exhibitions looking at colonialism. This might sound heavy and difficult but it is done with such detail, grace, dialogue and space that you leave feeling challenged, enriched, wiser and curious. There is also a fantastic cafe that can help you digest all you have witnessed. Very accessible for teenagers too.
Global designs, Vienna
In the midst of an August thunderstorm, I ducked into the Globenmuseum (€5) in Vienna in a 17th-century baroque palace. It’s probably the only museum in the world dedicated to globes, and it has more than 200 on display. From globes of the astrological heavens, to globes of Venus, Mars and the Moon, to globes from the 16th century onwards. It was fascinating. And it’s affordable in a very pricey city.
Serene gardens, Basel, Switzerland
The Fondation Beyeler (CHF25/£22) thrilled this year with a fascinating Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective and its current stunning exhibition of Piet Mondrian. Top-notch curation, gorgeous light-filled spaces, serene gardens, and multilingual education initiatives make this a fantastic art destination. Under 26-year-olds get in for free. I was intrigued to hear about the museum’s August summer party when families picnic and enjoy live music and children’s workshops. Year-round, hotels issue free Basel Cards including discounted museum entry and gratis public transport. I took the Eurostar, changing in Paris using RER line D to the TGV Lyria service. Ah, to feel European again.
Memories of Van Gogh, Provence, France
A most beautiful and tranquil treasure, in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, south of Avignon, is the asylum where Van Gogh stayed and created some of his most famous paintings. Still partially a mental health unit specialising in art therapy, the museum includes his bedroom with the blue chair. Wander the gardens and see his art on enormous canvases placed among the lavender and sunflowers creating a place for all of us to contemplate and children to play. I enjoyed reading the novel Let Me Tell You About a Man I Know by Susan Fletcher, a fictional account of the time he spent there.
The cats of Kotor, Montenegro
There are cats everywhere in the narrow streets of Kotor so it’s only right that there should be a museum in their honour. This small museum charts the history of cats in visual culture, from medieval marginalia to 20th-century luxury advertising, and provides a fascinating insight into our timeless obsession with all things feline. Worth the €1 ticket price alone, however, are the faintly horrifying humanoid cat portraits that encircle the main room: two cats in football kits jostle for possession; a turbaned tabby brandishes a scimitar; a feline nude reclines on a chaise longue, all 10 breasts exposed. Un-fur-gettable (sorry).
WINNING TIP: Bog man and Vikings, Aarhus, Denmark
I was wowed by the modern, unique Moesgaard Museum (DKK160/£19). It’s so lively with its sloping green roof that youngsters can run around on, and it’s close to Moesgård Beach and Marselisborg Forest. You can wander its historical park outside, strewn with interesting monuments. One of the star exhibits is the Grauballe Man, the body of a man preserved in a bog from the third century BC. The stunning display of iron age swords cascades down several storeys, representing how they were thrown into water at Illerup Ådal, east Jutland. The considerable investment in virtual reality tech, touch, sound and sight take you to each period of the past, with Vikings a highlight.
Please use the comments to reveal your own gallery and museum favourites
October 6, 2022 at 03:52PM Guardian readers