Top 10 Must See Galleries and 5 Little Gems

Posted by: Candice Daquin

In most large cities art galleries are plentiful, there are the ‘grand dame’ galleries and museums that everyone’s visited or heard of and then those galleries off the beaten track. A visit to the larger well-known galleries and the smaller more local venues always makes for a nice combination when abroad. There could never be a definitive list of art venues but here are ten ‘must see’ galleries and ‘5 little gems’ for the thirsty art lover and curious tourist.

Saatchi Gallery – London, UK
2008 will herald the opening of the relocated Saatchi Gallery of London, UK. Located in Sloan Square, London, the Saatchi Gallery will continue to display forefront modern artists and support the art world with free admission (except for specific art shows and exhibitions) as well as one of the world’s finest virtual galleries. Particularly supportive of education in the arts and promoting unknown artists, Saatchi Gallery has existed for over twenty years and prides itself on being considered one of the best springboards for young artists to launch their careers. Always breathtakingly designed, Saatchi Gallery is one of the premier art venues around.

Musée de L’Orangerie – Paris, FRANCE
The 1852 Orangerie building in Paris, France is known as the Musée de L’Orangerie, a beautiful restored building housing the work of French Impressionist Claude Monet and in more recent years others including the Walter-Guillaume collection, and 144 canvases by painters including Auguste Renoir, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, André Derain, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani and Henri Rousseau. Nestled just next to the beautiful Tuileries public gardens, this lovely location is a perfect less well-known gallery to enjoy before a long lunch when in Paris.

Mizuma Art Gallery – Tokyo, JAPAN
An exciting gallery, showing Japanese and Asian artists whose works contribute unique sensibilities to the international art scene. Including many well-known Western artists who are new to Japanese audiences, Mizuma brings the flavours of Western art to Japan and stand as a representative of Japanese contemporary art. Exploring modern themes, Mizuma’s recent exhibitions have included: Hiroko Okada "Aizou Bento - Love and Hate Lunch Box" Hiroyuki Matsukage and Kosuke Tsumura " Fantasy Made to Order" and Emi Ikematsu “Seeking a soul mate." Provocative and bringing a unique combination of talents to Tokyo’s thriving art-scene, Mizuma has a reputation of high-quality installation art and collaborations with world-wide art circles and events.

State Hermitage Museum – St. Petersburg, RUSSIA
If you are ever fortunate enough to find yourself visiting Russia, be sure to visit St. Petersburg and the wonderful State Hermitage Museum. With over 3,000,000 items, and six buildings, the State Hermitage is not only breathtakingly beautiful and set in the center of exquisite St. Petersburg, but boasts an art collection spanning the Stone Age through to modern times. Recent exhibitions have amazingly included; ancient Chinese art from the Shanghai museum, Dutch paintings from the 16th-17th century, Russian and Japanese masterpieces as well as Faberge and Jackson Pollock. Access to some of the world’s greatest art set in one of the most beautiful museums to exist, makes the Hermitage a museum of endless galleries.

Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – Buenos Aires, ARGENTINA
Originally an old water pumping building that belonged to the cities sanitation department, the Museo Nacionale (known as MNBA) established itself in its current location in 1933. It’s been steadily building an excellent permanent collection of art from throughout the world with particular attention to German, Italian, Argentine and English artists, reflecting the close cultural connections and historical interest Argentina has had with Europe. Recent exhibitions include a look at “The First Moderns in Buenos Aires” and a Botero show. Many artists found in the MNBA are unknown to American audiences and coupled with the beauty of Buenos Aires and the lovely old building the MNBA is a spectacular visit.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian – Washington, D.C., US
Located in Washington, D.C., this incredible, deep-red striking building looks like a mountain bathed in late sun, and is dedicated to the preservation, study and exhibition of Native American language, life, literature, history and art. Exhibitions have included ancient Mexican art and New Tribe: New York, high-lighting New York-based Native artists, creating and identifying as part of a "new tribe." New York has been home to the highest number of Indian people in the USA. New Tribe takes old-ways and new, and combines them in an artistic form to reflect the mix of urban influences and experiences.

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum – Sante Fe, California, US
When I last visited Santa Fe I stopped in at the beautiful pueblo Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, a little building surrounded with giant old-growth cacti and beautiful Native American ornamentation. Inside there’s a delicious little café and the gallery holds a huge collection of O’Keeffe’s timeless work, as well as regular exhibitions from other artists, paying particular homage to female artists and modern Midwestern art. O’Keeffe’s life and times are documented in a film as well as in the diverse collection of her paintings, spanning her career, including her lesser-known New York material which is startlingly different and speaks to another O’Keeffe. The experience is memorable for the beauty of the setting and the care in which O’Keeffe’s work has been showcased and remembered.

Paul Getty Museum – Los Angeles, California, US
The J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and the older Getty Villa in Malibu, California, will have your senses reeling in delight. The Getty Villa, perched on rocks over looking the most beautiful aspects of Malibu, is a wondrous treasure box of collected art from all around the world. Walking around the Getty villa, time stops and every sense is awoken by the plethora of colour and vegetation, an abundance of exquisite gems, bursting with bright flowers, birds flying in the manicured trees, a sky as azure as dreams, water fountains everywhere. It is perhaps one of the most romantic settings for an eclectic and dazzling collection of art collected by Getty. The LA museum is an antithesis to the Villa, artificially lit in bright plumes, it has a huge collection of modern art and attention has been given to the layout of the museum to make it a truly pleasurable experience.

Institución Museo Chileno –  Santiago, CHILE
La Institución Museo Chileno de Arte PreColumbiano is a once in a lifetime experience, if you thought you knew the history of art, this exquisite museum has a vast permanent collection of art from the Andes, the Amazon, the Caribbean and Central/South America. Museo Chileno, now 20 years old, continues its original pioneering initiative for Latin American art and preservation of native culture. Looking widely as the nuances between the countries as well as funding numerous archeological digs, the Museo has endeavored through excavation to further our understanding of the relationship between different nodes (locations) of the Incan and other ancient people and empires. In southern Chile, excavations have learned more about the obscure Pleistoceno-Holoceno period in Chilean history. A film project is underway concentrating on studying native indigenous populations and other projects further conservation and education. The museum has an extensive and rare collection of Pre Columbian art ranging from ceramics to freezes and other examples of this magnificent period in history.

Whitechapel Gallery – London, UK
One of the hippest places to view art, the Whitechapel Gallery in London is one of Europe’s leading galleries for modern art. Hosting pod casts, film & poetry events, live performances and late night art shows and the boldest new talent imaginable in the modern art world, Whitechapel has carved its name in history as one of the ‘funkiest’ galleries for innovative talent, exhibiting and unearthing the leading lights of the art world, and putting on exhibitions that regularly make national news. Whitechapel is over 100 years old, and began with Pre Raphaelites and older English Masters, through the years reflecting the growth and culture shifts in the art world. In more recent years Whitechapel has embodied the pulse of the art world, continually reinventing its responsiveness to the art to fit the world outside. The constantly changing exhibitions and featured artists guarantee a new experience with every visit.

Joan Miró Foundation – Barcelona, SPAIN
The Joan Miró Foundation nestled on the hills overlooking Barcelona is a beautiful sprawling modern stucco building, containing the legacy of the artist who died in 1983. During his life, Joan Miró took an interest in the diversity of materials, form and colour. He explored this interest through innovative painting techniques, ceramics, and tapestry. Distinctive, marking an era and infusing Spain with a hitherto unknown modern style of painting, Miró became one of the leading lights of modernist art and design, changing the art world irrevocably. His foundation is a permanent homage to Miró’s work, including a copy of his library and a venue for visiting exhibitions. A necessary stopping point for any visitor to Barcelona, the Miró building is unforgettably vivid and bold, much like the man.


Mixografia® Workshop, established in 1968 in Mexico City by Luis and Lea Remba is a fine art workshop, using a unique printmaking technique, which was moved to Los Angeles after collaboration with the Department of Fine Arts at the University of California. A gallery was opened to support the process of Mixografia® and to show-case the local art scene.

14th Street Painters based in New York City began as an artist’s atelier with rentable work space in 1987. A core principle of 14th Street Painters are the events connecting the artists they have to the public, as well as extensive exhibition space and online galleries. 
Encouraging and supporting art is their mission.

White Columns at 320 W. 13th St., New York, NY, is one of the most talked about NYC art galleries, respected in the industry for its uncompromising search for talent and ability to display simultaneous shows due to the spacious division of the gallery into three distinct spaces. Leading NYC and other honor roll artists have shown at White Columns but despite this daunting list of leading artists, the gallery is surprisingly down-to-earth and welcoming, with many exciting art shows throughout the year.

The Bathhouse District in Dallas, Texas is bursting with strange shops, boutiques, dark velvety vodka bars and gay-friendly bistros. The bathhouse has an excellent reputation for emerging Latino artists as well as a large theatre and multiple mixed-use spaces for artists, who are found from the rich Hispanic culture that dominates this fascinating neighborhood. The bathhouse, hosts some of the best emerging artists in this eclectic and richly diverse area, bringing the unique voices and breadth of creativity with shows celebrating; the voice of female artists, celebrating diversity, El Día de los Muertos, and STORIES: REAL, DREAMED AND INVENTED, an exhibition of photography.

Though small the Artésol Gallery in Ottawa, Canada, has the work of many Cuban artists its purpose is to introduce to Canada and the world, fine art from the exceptional legacy of Cuban art. Meanwhile, reaffirming Canada’s international position, look out for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, coming to Winnipeg, Manitoba soon.


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Candice Daquin
London, ON, Canada

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