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Top 20 Must-See Museums Around the World

April 05, 2021

Twenty museums. One lifetime. You can do it! From the Museum of Modern Art in New York to the British Museum in London, visit our picks for the world's best museums.

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20: National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa)

This museum has a great collection of art spanning the Middles Ages to the present day, including American, Indian, European, Inuit and Canadian works. It offers a unique, near-complete overview of Canadian art — from early Quebec religious work, through Inuit work from the 1950s, to avant-garde contemporaries, via the well-represented Group Of Seven, whose passion in the early 20th century was to create an art that derived exclusively from Canada and its sublime landscapes. The successful fruits of their labor captured the spirit of a country, and are now displayed on these walls. Check the website before visiting, as this museum is temporarily closed.

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19: The Shrine of the Book (Israel)

The Shrine of the Book's collection contains some of the most important cultural artifacts and documents in existence pertaining to the history of Christianity. Although the manuscripts are never on display in their entirety, there is always some part to see. The exhibition "A Day at Qumran" tells the story of the Essenes, the people behind the scrolls and something of their day-to-day existence 2,000 years ago. The Shrine of the Book also holds the earliest known full text of the Bible.

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18: Museo Nacional de Antropologa (Mexico)

This vast complex contains one of the most magical museum environments in the world; its 20-acre plot in Chapultepec Park is full of foliage, waterfalls, pools and statues. Downstairs is an incomparable display of pre-Columbian art, upstairs an excellent collection of Mexican folk art and throughout you'll find the work of recent Mexican artists and sculptors.

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17: Mauritshuis (Netherlands)

The Mauritshuis may not have the encyclopedic scope of many of the other museums in this list, nor are its holdings as extensive. However, what it does exceptionally well is play to its strengths — in this case, pictures from the 17th-century Dutch Golden Age. One of the masterpieces on view: Vermeer's "View of Delft" miraculously handles real light and atmosphere in paint and conveys an overwhelming sense of rest; at a quick glance it also appears to describe the museum and its immediate environs. Check the website before visiting, as this museum is temporarily closed.

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