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Top museums and galleries for the aesthete expat

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If you are lucky enough to have moved to or be travelling around some of the world's major cities, you should take the opportunity to explore the places that house some of the world's greatest historical artefacts and captivating art. Museums and galleries offer a mere glimpse into the past or the mind of an artist, and can capture entire eras with their collections. Join Expat.com in a tour around the world's outstanding museums and art galleries.

Tate Modern and Tate Britain

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Though they are two separate London galleries that share the 'Tate' name, it's more a case of sneaking both into our top ten. The Tate Britain was the original, housing both classical and modern art, until the creation of the Tate Modern on the South Bank, which then became the main residence of contemporary creations. It accommodates some of the best in British art, including the likes of Constable and Turner. The Tate Modern, on the other hand, has some of the most cutting-edge modern art, with the Turbine Hall housing specially commissioned exhibits from the likes of Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor. If you're an art fan in London, these two are certainly worth a visit.

The British Museum

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Home to a treasure trove of world history, the British museum covers vast swathes of history with its collections. Artefacts and art from the Roman, Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian eras, as well as ancient Asia and Europe can all be found here. Though the nature of the acquisition of some artefacts, such as the Elgin marbles, is hotly disputed, the British Museum is a must-see, and, as with most museums and galleries in London, entry is free of charge.

The Louvre

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The sheer size of the Louvre is an indication as to just how much culture and history is within it. While some may gather around the famed Mona Lisa alone, the museum is overflowing with art. Originally built as a palace, the Louvre has grown into one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Those in Paris should certainly take a day (or two) to visit the museum, though it's advisable to plan a route or decide in advance on which pieces you are particularly keen to view before hand.

The Vatican Museums

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The centre of the Catholic church and the Pope's official residence is also the site of some of the greatest art in history. It is also where you can see one the world's most famous works of art; the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Filled to the brim with Italian Renaissance art and classical works, you shouldn't view the walk that eventually leads to Michelangelo's great work as a schlep; there is much to be admired and enjoyed along the way.

State Hermitage

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Located in picturesque surroundings in Saint Petersburg, the State Hermitage Museum is comprised of six buildings, which should give you an idea of how extensive its collection is. You can walk through history here, with collections from the prehistoric to the modern era. Aside from the enormous collection that resides inside, the exterior of the museum is just as glorious, with the main building being the iconic Winter Palace.

The Acropolis Museum

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Unsurprisingly, given that one of the Western world's greatest civilisations was based there, the Acropolis Museum in Greece houses an extensive display of the historical artefacts found in the area around the Acropolis. Though it may not have the breadth of the collections at some of the other museums included, it offers visitors an in-depth look at Ancient Greece. There is also ongoing excavation below the museum itself, giving visitors the opportunity to view the process of discovering the past.

The Smithsonian Institution

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More a group of museums and galleries than one museum or gallery in particular, this Washington D.C. research institute is one of the best in America, with a huge collection housed in its numerous buildings. The institution also has a Zoo, making it quite a unique attraction in terms of the breadth of its exhibits. From the Museum of Natural History to the American Museum of Air and Space, you are sure to find something to keep you captivated, whatever your interests may be.

The Museum of Modern Art

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The New York Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, is one of the best known in the US, and with good reason. The works of art here are not just confined to pieces that can be hung on a wall, but extend to performance art and films. It is recognised for being home to some of the most influential contemporary and modern art in the world, including pieces by Matisse, Lichtenstein, and Pollock, to name a few. For fans of modern art, this is a must-see.

The Shanghai Museum

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China has one of the world's oldest civilisations and a fascinating history, all of which can be experienced at the Shanghai Museum. A true testament to Chinese art, the museum offers visitors the chance to see artefacts and works from ancient Chinese dynasties. It is one of the best museums in China to explore its ancient past, from pottery to calligraphy. If you have the chance to visit the Shanghai Museum, you should seize the opportunity.

Which museums or galleries around the world would you recommend? Let us know in the comments below.

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