America’s top art museums are now open to visitors, or you can take a virtual visit to any of them. Below is a look at ten of the top art museums in the country, and how you can enjoy them in person or online.
Current status: The Metropolitan Museum Fifth Avenue and Met Cloisters are open to the public with reserved tickets. Timed tickets are required for entry. To plan your visit, go to:
In accordance with New York City mandates, all visitors age 12 and up must show proof of vaccination and all visitors age 2 and up must wear a face mask. For more details see: The Met Visitor Guidelines
In addition to being the country’s largest art museum, The Metropolitan, or The Met, is the fourth most-visited art museum in the world. Its permanent collection contains over two million works, including art from classical antiquity and ancient Egypt, paintings and sculptures from nearly all the European masters, and an extensive collection of American and modern art. The Met also has an extensive collection of African, Asian, Oceanian, Byzantine, and Islamic art.
Online resources at The Met
A good place to start an online exploration of the Met is the museum’s Art at Home web page at:
From here you can take virtual tours of featured exhibits, explore the history of art through the Met’s collection, and access blogs, lectures, classic films, concerts, art books, artist profiles, and virtual events. The Met 360° Project features a series of short videos that take you on an immersive, 360° tour of the museum’s most iconic spaces.
Online visitors can also listen to and share audio tracks from the Met’s Audio Guide web page. The page contains more than 3,000 recordings prepared for Met exhibitions and thousands of artworks in the galleries.
The Sonic Cloisters is a series of on-site electronic music performances, available at: Sonic Cloisters
Current status: The Museum of Modern Art is open seven days a week, 10:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m. Entry is by advance timed ticket only. To plan your visit, go to:
All visitors age 12 and up must show proof of vaccination and all visitors age 2 and up must wear a face mask. For more details see: MoMA Visitor Guidelines
The Museum of Modern Art, aka MoMA, has one of the premier collections of modern and contemporary art in the world, including painting, sculpture, photography, prints, illustrated books and films. Among the nearly 200,000 pieces of art in the museum are some of the best-known works of modern art, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s Starry Night, Pablo Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Claude Monet’s Water Lilies triptych, Henri Rousseau’s The Sleeping Gypsy, and Salvador Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory. MoMa also has an extensive art library, featuring more than 300,000 books and periodicals, as well as primary source material tracing the history of modern and contemporary art.
Online resources at Moma
To view the Moma art exhibits online, check out these resources:
Featured online exhibits include:
- Engineer, Agitator, Constructor: The Artist Reinvented: Explores a radically new approach to artmaking in the 1920s and ’30s that took place in lockstep with that era’s shifts in industry, technology, and labor, and amid the profound impact of momentous events: World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the rise of fascism.
- Collection, 1940s–1970s: A survey of artwork on Floor 4 of the MoMa museum, featuring a wide array of artists, forms, styles and mediums.
Current status: The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is open to the public with reserved tickets. Tickets are good for an entire day. To plan your visit, go to:
All visitors must wear a face mask. For more details see: MFA Visitor Guidelines
The Museum of Fine Arts (MFA) in Boston is the fifth-largest museum in the U.S. The museum contains one of the most comprehensive art collections in the Americas, with more than 450,000 pieces. It is home to more than 8,000 paintings, second only in the Americas to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The permanent collection is noted for its Ancient Egyptian artifacts, Asian art, French Impressionist paintings, and early American art.
Online resources at MFA
The MFA video library features virtual exhibition tours, artist interviews, and musical performances. The Online Events page lets you browse upcoming online events—music, performances, distance learning classes, chats, talks, and more. You can also visit the MFA web page on the “Google Arts & Culture” website to view online exhibits, features, and an interactive walk-through of the museum galleries.
Featured Online Exhibit
The Monet and Boston: Legacy Illuminated exhibit brings together the museum’s unparalleled collection of Monet paintings for the first time in a generation—in honor of its 150th anniversary. Learn more Here.
Current status: The Philadelphia Museum of Art is open to the public on Thursdays through Mondays with reserved tickets. Timed tickets are required for entry. To plan your visit, go to:
All visitors must wear a face mask. For more details visit: Philadelphia Museum Safety Guidelines
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the nation’s oldest public art museums, and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. The museum’s collection contains over 240,000 pieces, featuring artwork of European, American, and Asian origin. Highlights include the world’s largest collection of works by Marcel Duchamp, the country’s finest public collection of sculpture by Auguste Rodin, and a major collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers. The museum also houses a popular collection of armor throughout the ages and an exceptional collection of American decorative arts.
Philadelphia Museum Online resources
To explore the museum’s collection online, start here.
You can view the collection by artist or search the museum’s database to explore artworks by title, type of artwork, country of origin, and department.
Featured online exhibits
- Art of Paul Cezanne
- Kōgei: Art Craft Japan (One-of-a-kind, handcrafted objects made with traditional techniques and natural materials)
- New European Galleries (Selections from the museum’s Impressionist art collection)
- African American Art
- Arts of the Islamic World
- Artful Adornment (Necklaces and Neckpieces).
Current status: The National Gallery of Art and Sculpture Garden is fully open 10 am to 5 pm daily. Timed entry passes are currently not required and admission is free.
All visitors age 2 and up must wear a face mask. For more details see: NGA Visitor Guidelines
Located on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art (NGA) is one of the largest museums in North America and the second most visited art museum in the country, behind the Met. It boasts one of the most expansive art collections in the nation, featuring paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, rare illustrated books, sculptures, medals, and decorative arts that trace the development of Western Art from the Middle Ages to the present. The massive collection includes the only painting by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas as well as works by such masters as Titian, Raphael, El Greco, Goya, and Delacroix.
NGA Online resources
Search the museum’s entire collection, take a virtual tour or browse exhibits featured on the NGA home page. When taking a virtual gallery tour, you can get a description of individual works in the gallery by clicking on the small colored dots associated with each work. Some buttons enable you to listen to an audio description or see related video clips. Be sure to select the “Learn more about this work” link to view a full-sized image of the work.
Featured online exhibits
- Raphael and His Circle Virtual Tour: A display of 26 prints and drawings by Raphael to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death.
- Degas at the Opéra: A virtual tour dedicated to Edgar Degas’s fascination with the Opéra — its spaces, the music, and the people involved with the thriving theatrical life of 19th-century Paris.Degas Virtual Tour
- Della Robbia Sculpture in Florence
- 21 Works to Ring in 2021: Ring in 2021, and reflect on 2020, with 21 inspiring works from the National Gallery of Art collection.
- Collection Highlights.
- True to Nature: Open-Air Painting in Europe, 1780-1870.
Current status: The Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery reopened to visitors on May 14, 2021. The museum is open on Wednesdays through Sundays. Timed tickets are no longer required for entry but masks are required for all visitors ages two and older.
To plan your visit, go to:
Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Smithsonian American Art Museum is home to one of the largest and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. The museum, which features more than 7,000 American artists, showcases the nation’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to the present day. The museum’s collection includes paintings, folk art, photography, New Deal art, contemporary craft and decorative arts, and even video games.
Smithsonian American Art Museum / Image: Smithsonian American Art Museum / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)
Smithsonian Online resources
Access these resources online:
Featured online exhibits
- The Automobile and American Art
- ¡Printing the Revolution! The Rise and Impact of Chicano Graphics, 1965 to Now.
- Forces of Nature: Renwick Invitational 2020. Four guest artists explore what it means to be human in a world increasingly chaotic and divorced from our physical landscape.
- Alexander von Humboldt and the United States: Art, Nature, and Culture.
- Experience America. A selection of paintings from New Deal artists.
Current status: The Art Institute of Chicago is open to the public with advance tickets. Members do not need a ticket. To plan your visit, go to:
All visitors age 2 and up must wear a face mask. For more details see: Chicago Art Institute Visitor Guidelines
The Art Institute of Chicago is the second largest art museum in the U.S. and one of the nation’s oldest art institutions. The museum’s wide-ranging collection includes such well-known works as Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist, and Grant Wood’s American Gothic. The museum has a permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art and hosts more than 30 special exhibitions yearly.
Chicago Art Institute Online resources
If you’re visiting online, a good place to start is the museum’s Visit Us Virtually web page. From here you can search the entire collection, watch videos, and download audio tours. Also of interest is the Interactive Features webpage, which enables you to explore different pieces of artwork in the museum’s collection close-up.
Experience the Art Institute’s spectacular crèche online. The crèche features over 200 figures—including no less than 50 animals and 41 still-life objects—configured in an ornate cabinet with a painted backdrop.
Recently featured at the Institute is the Obama Portraits.
Current status: Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts is open on Wednesdays through Sundays with restrictions. Tickets are required for general admission and special exhibitions. For tickets, museum hours and visitor guidelines, go to:
Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts has the largest art collection in the southwestern United States and is the sixth-largest art museum in the country. The focus of the museum’s collection is on Italian Renaissance painting, French Impressionism, and American and European decorative arts. Some of the most popular pieces come from impressionists such as Monet, Signac, and Cezanne. The museum’s collections are housed in seven facilities, and it ranks among the top ten museums in the nation for total attendance.
The featured exhibitions now through January 2022 include The Art of Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso. For details visit: MFAH Special Exhibitions
MFA Houston Online resources
Current status: The Los Angeles County Museum of Art reopened on April 1 and is now open to the public with reserved tickets. Timed tickets are required for entry. For tickets, museum hours and visitor guidelines, go to:
All visitors must wear a face mask. For more details see: LACMA Visitor Guidelines
The Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is the largest art museum in the western United States with a wide-ranging collection that spans the history of art from the ancient to the present. Reflecting the region’s rich cultural heritage, the museum houses one of the largest collections of Latin American art outside of Latin America. The museum’s collection is also notable for its modern and contemporary artworks, Asian art, and exhibits devoted to the area’s entertainment industry.
LACMA Online resources
LACMA has redesigned its collections page to focus on free content that users can access from home.
Also you can view short films, exhibition walk-throughs, and documentaries about artwork and artists in the museum’s collection at the Watch link.
Also of note is the Artists on Art video series, which features contemporary artists talking about works in the LACMA collection that have influenced them and fed their creativity.
Current status: The two locations for the J. Paul Getty museum – the Getty Center and Getty Villa Museum – are open to the public with reserved tickets. Timed tickets are required for entry. To reserve, go to:
All visitors age 2 and up must wear a face mask. For more details see: Getty Museum Safety Guidelines
The J Paul Getty Museum, aka the Getty, is housed on two campuses: the Getty Center and the Getty Villa. The Getty Center features pre-20th-century European paintings, drawings, illuminated manuscripts, sculpture, decorative arts, and an extensive collection of photographs that showcase the history of photography. The collection includes major works by Manet and Monet. The Getty Villa is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria, and has an extensive collection of antiquities, of which over 1,200 are on view.
Getty Museum Online resources
The Getty has put together a starter kit for exploring the museum’s art and exhibitions while the galleries are closed. In addition, you can search the museum’s complete collection of art and library resources using the tools on the Art and Research Collections web page.
Featured online content from Getty