A legendary curator of contemporary art, Helen Molesworth's latest project is a gripping podcast, Death of an Artist. Here are Molesworth's ten must-visit museums around the world.Less
"The Menil is nestled in a leafy green neighborhood in H-town. It’s a jewel box of a museum—the architect is Renzo Piano, and many people think this is his best building. It's modest, warm, and art looks amazing in it. The collection is strong in surrealism. There are amazing Oceanic objects. And I’ve seen people in tears in the stand-alone Cy Twombly galleries more than once. Oh, and there is the Rothko Chapel too."
"This museum epitomizes what is great about regional museums. This is no cookie-cutter collection. Instead you’ll see artists of the American South who are rarely shown in the Northeast."
"Full disclosure: I worked here for five great years. This museum sits at the edge of Boston Harbor, and it makes great use of its location. It has stunning views of the water and a ferry that will take you across the harbor to its project space in summertime. To be honest, it doesn't matter what’s on view; whatever it is will be brand new and terrifically installed. Go catch the vibe of the best contemporary art has to offer."
"This museum is housed in a classic 1970s brutalist building—it's all poured concrete with a soaring atrium. It also continually mounts two types of shows: historical shows that tell the history of African Americans in general and the Black experience in L.A. specifically, as well as featuring a staggeringly good rotation of contemporary Black artists."
"Maybe my favorite museum in the world? First, it has the Venus of Willendorf, perhaps one of the most important sculptures ever made. Second, the collection was formed during the Hapsburg Empire—an empire that at times included most of Europe from Spain to Austria. This means the collection is stocked with great Spanish artists like Ribera and Velasquez and the dynamic artists of Northern Europe like Durer and Bosch. Every time I visit, this place blows my mind."
"I remember turning 16 and being excited because it meant I could go to the Frick by myself. I'm not sure if the 'no children without adults' rule still applies, but the hush that comes over one as you walk through this beaux arts mansion and find yourself face to face with stunning works by Sargent, Fragonard, Goya, Turner, and Holbein is very much still the vibe. The masterpiece reigns supreme here. Go big or go home."
"In addition to being the 'gateway to the west,' St. Louis is a stellar art town. The main museum has fantastic collections of early American Art and real depth in German art from the 19th and 20th century. CAM St. Louis runs an ambitious program of up-and-coming artists, and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation is housed in a stunning poured-concrete building by Tadao Ando. The exhibitions are always wonderfully well researched and beautifully installed."
"This is the home of Picasso’s Guernica, a masterpiece of the highest order. You think you know it, but when you see itm you really feel its full power—both as an anti-war manifesto and as a painting. The museum is dedicated to the 20th century, and it has one of the most innovative exhibition programs I know of globally. I always learn something whenever I visit."
"This museum is dedicated to hunting and nature. It’s filled with amazing taxidermy, tons of hunting pictures, drawers filled with natural specimens, and a handful of contemporary art installations that intervene in all this wonderful craziness. Not to be missed."
"I know I’m not supposed to have favorites, but The Whitney is my favorite hometown museum. The new building in the meatpacking district offers dramatic views of the Hudson River, and the permanent collection—which ranges from Edward Hopper to Nicole Eisenman—is perhaps the best collection of American art ever assembled, partly because it is constantly questioning what exactly 'American' means. Always worth a visit."