What is the best art museum in the United States?

Is there any museum better than the Norton Simon museum in California? I think the Metropolitan Museum in New York is close.

How do I define the best? A substantial collection of different periods. I love the Norton Simon because their collection of European art is outstanding and they have one of the best collections of Asian art in the United States.

The Met
The Art Institute of Chicago
The National Gallery

What do I win?


No…I win.

Another vote for the National Gallery.

A third vote for the National Gallery.

For contemporary art, the best choice is probably Mass MoCA.

Me too also for the National Gallery. You can spend a week or more in there and not see everything.

The Art Institute of Chicago is wonderful. It’s known for housing some of the most famous paintings in the world (esp. American Gothic and A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, among others, and it has an incredible selection of impressionist paintings), but I think my favorite part is its collection of Asian artefacts. I’m also fond of the armor and weaponry. Last time I was there I skipped right over the European paintings that most people head straight to and looked carefully over the Southeast Asian scultures and Greek pottery, which are located by the back entrance. I’d always run out of steam right about then in previous visits, and it was nice to spend time there. Gorgeous. And the Chagall windows…mmm.

Maybe I need to go to the Art Institute this weekend.

I was never that impressed with the Norton Simon. The Art Institute of Chicago, on the other hand, is wonderful. I used to have a season pass (or whatever it’s called), and on free afternoons, I’d take the El down to the Art Institute, pick a different wing, and just wander. Truly wonderful.

I miss Chicago.

I’d like to put in a mention for the Boston Fine Arts museum. In my book it’s right up there with Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY, the National Gallery in Washington DC or the Art Institute of Chicago for breadth and quality.

I have never been to the Norton Simon museum, but I would be very surprised (pleasantly so) if it rivaled these establishments.

The Louvre in Paris beats 'em all though.

I don’t think that makes it the “best”, just the biggest. As a matter of fact, I like to leave a museum knowing I’ve seen (most) everything.

For me, maybe the MOMA in New York. I’ve seen things there (installations and permanent pieces) that still stick with me.

Philly’s museum has excellent stuff, but it has too much stupid shit, too. Some good Van Goghs, though. I like looking at Van Goghs.

In Paris, I like the Musee D’Orsay. The Louvre is too big.

Baltimore’s msueum of art is professional, but nothing too special. Lots of Gaugins.

Growing up with the Detroit Institute of Arts, I was always…eeeeeehhhh and I didn’t know why. My husband felt the same way. It lacks something indefinable.

I make a point when traveling to get into the museums when the opportunity allows. I’ve done Chicago (2nd favorite), National Museum (my favorite), MoMA and a few others and I realize that Detroit is like a Garage Sale or Basement Pictures (as in some major gallery finds a Renoir has no place to hang it so Detroit gets it.) Really, I can’t blame anyone. Detroit is trying to turn itself around from its cesspool of an image .

Still, it is a wonderbar thing to be able to have the opportunity to view any artist of any medium ( good, bad and dropped in urine) in the freeworld.

And since no one is reading this, I would like to share with you Art Dopers my little happy pipe dream that will never happen.

I would love to buy up all the garage sale art that isn’t bad, but isn’t good and sometimes down right creepy. And hang it in a museum store front, by a university, and sell it to college students and poor young things at affordable rates. Often in combination with Open Keg Night.

Y’know, affordable art that is easy to get more of and isn’t snobby in anyway.

I agree with Trunk that biggest does not necessarily equal best, though because of the size combined with the quality of their collections, the National Gallery, the Metropolitan, and the Art Institute of Chicago are very hard to beat.

Despite my vote for the National Gallery as the best (above), I need to also give a tip of the ol’ fedora to MoMA – it has Starry Night, The Sleeping Gypsy, and that room full of Waterlilies, each of which is worth some long silent contemplation.

Also, let’s not forget Philly’s eccentric Barnes Foundation, which has some seriously excellent paintings – and some dreck.

Yup…the Met, MOMA, the Nat’l Gallery, and the Chi Art Institute.

Special kudos to Chicago, which owns Arnold Bocklin’s In the Sea. Man, I’d like to hang that one over my sofa.

Ooops, sorry I forgot MOMA - for some stupid reason, I mentally lumped it with the Met (“you know, those New York ones…”)

And let’s not forget that the Art Institute in Chicago has Paris Street: A Rainy Day and Nighthawks…among many, many others of course…