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Looking to hit the road and make a life-changing journey to the best art island, art park, or open-air museum? A place filled with whimsical and provocative contemporary paintings and sculpture? How about a vacation to a destination art museum? One that provides both a stunning landscape and brilliant artwork. Our correspondent Jillian Tangen has a curated list of some of the top places in the world for amazing art pilgrimages. These are the best destination art museums in the world, and they’re definitely worth the trip.

why take a journey to an art island or remote private art park?

Here at Dandelion Chandelier, we think there’s almost never a bad time to hit the road for an outdoor adventure that involves viewing some of the world’s finest art en plein air.

Really, what’s not to like? Remote art islands, open-air museums, art parks and sculpture gardens are places where art, humans and nature intertwine in unpredictable and astounding ways. 


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It’s a chance to be transported to a different world for a few hours, or more. Perhaps to a place with installations larger than life that complement and transform the natural world around them. Or maybe to a destination that looks completely different from season to season, making us want to return again and again for a fresh look.

The Best Destination Art Museums in the World

Whether you decide to plan a vacation to a destination museum in a far-away place in the spring, when the earth is just starting to bloom – or in the autumn when the leaves are ablaze – there are dozens of wonderful spots from which to choose. Some of them are even more starkly beautiful in winter. 


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On this list of art islands, parks, and open-air museums, you’ll find some that are part of world-class art centers. Others are much smaller, but feature awe-inspiring collections and a singular vision. From an off-the-beaten-path park in southern Sweden to a  popular spot just a short train ride away from New York City, here’s our list of some of the best destination museums around the world. These are definitely worth the trip.

1. Glenstone, Potomac, Maryland

One of the most special under-the-radar museums in the Washington DC area is Glenstone. The private contemporary art museum is set on 130 acres of rolling meadows, woodlands and streams in Potomac, Maryland. 

best open-air art museum

The best open-air art museums in the world: Glenstone in Maryland. Courtesy Photo.

First opened in 2006, Glenstone is home to the vast modern and contemporary art trove of media-shy collectors Emily and Mitchell Rales.  For years, the only visitors were those who knew of the couple’s reputation in the art world. However, following an expansion and reopening last year, the institution has begun to gain the recognition it deserves. 

best remote art museums in the world

The best open-air art museums in the world: Glenstone in Maryland. Photo Credit: The New York Times.

While there’s a fair share of artwork indoors, it’s the architecture and artwork outdoors, amidst the gorgeously wild landscaping, that is the most breathtaking.  You will find sculptures such as Jeff Koons’s Split-Rocker and Richard Serra’s Contour, which seem to blend seamlessly into the horizon. And the sound installation Forest (for a Thousand Years) by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.

Take note: while Glenstone offers free admission, you must make reservations well beforehand, as they only admit 400 visitors a day.

2. The Chinati Foundation, Marfa, Texas 

Founded by artist Donald Judd in 1986, this minimalist museum is set inside a former military fort in West Texas.

The best destination art museums for a vacation in the world: Chinati in Marfa, Texas. Courtesy Photo.

Conceived as a place to bring art, architecture, and the environment into coherent balance, the museum originally housed works by Judd, Dan Flavin, and John Chamberlain alone.

The best destination art museums for a vacation in the world: Solange Knowles performs at Chinati in Marfa, Texas. Courtesy Photo.

It has since expanded to include the work of additional contemporary artists. The annual Chinati Weekend in mid-October invites artists from a wide range of disciplines to create site-specific works. For example, in 2017, Solange Knowles led a wildly popular site-specific performance of  her work “Scales.” 

3. Storm King Art Center, New Windsor, New York

New York City has no shortage of art destinations. But for something truly unlike anything along Museum Mile, head one hour north to the hamlet of New Windsor for a visit to the Storm King Art Center

The best destination art museums in the world: Storm King Art Center. Courtesy Photo.

This 500-acre open-air museum features more than 100 works from names such as Alexander Calder, Maya Lin, Donald Judd, Richard Serra and Louise Bourgeois. There are sculptures, and also enormous earth works. 

The best destination art museums in the world: Storm King Art Center. Courtesy Photo.

One of our personal favorites includes a giant canoe painted by Roy Lichtenstein overlooking a stream. Currently, whimsical interactive works by the American artist Mark Dion dot the landscape. Called “follies,” they’re small structures and sheds that visitors can enter or peer into, like “Hunting Blind (The Glutton)” with a table set for a meal of game, with fish and animal motifs on the dinner plates.

The best destination art museums in the world: Storm King Art Center. Courtesy Photo.

There’s also an octagonal miniature greenhouse, “The Conservatory for Confectionery Curiosities” (a collaboration with the artist Dana Sherwood), stacked with molded “desserts” made of resin with beautiful faux insects randomly stuck to them. Originally installed in the Tuileries Gardens in Paris, and will remain at Storm King until November 11, 2o19.

4. The Neon Museum, Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas’s 2.5 acre Neon Museum is quite possibly the most unique art park on our list.  Founded in 1996, the outdoor museum and art park is dedicated to collecting, preserving and exhibiting the iconic neon signs of Sin City. 

A vacation at a destination art museum: Tim Burton at the Neon Museum, Las Vegas.

The main collection contains more than 200 vintage signs which are illuminated by night with ground lighting. There are also numerous restored signs that are always illuminated.  If you decide to visit, plan ahead. The sign “boneyard” is only available to the public with a pre-booked guided tour.  The museum’s new exhibit, “Lost Vegas: Tim Burton,” runs from October 15, 2019 – February 15, 2020.

5. Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil

Located in southeast Brazil, Inhotim is an open-air art museum set amid 500,000 acres of botanical gardens. The Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim was founded by mining magnate Bernardo Paz (who was recently sentenced to nine years in prison for tax evasion). The late landscape artist Roberto Burle Marx, Paz′s friend, designed the landscape. 

Inhotim Brazil

The collection is a mix of works from Brazilian and international artists, including Olafur Eliasson, Doug Aitken, Vik Muniz, Anish Kapoor and Adriana Varejão. Many of the pavilions are works of art in themselves – one resembles an igloo, another a floating block of concrete.  And the exhibits range from the mesmerizing, like a labyrinth of mirrors camouflaged in the forest, to the merry – a row of garden hoes.

Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim

6. James Turrell Museum, Salta, Argentina

While his work is on display in dozens of locations around the world, the only museum devoted solely to the work of the artist James Turrell is located deep in the Argentinean interior. It’s on the Hess vineyard, owned by Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess. Designed by the artist himself, and opened in 2009, the museum’s collection is focused on the study of light, space, and the manipulation of visual perception. It features nine of Turrell’s signature immersive light installations, including the largest of his sky spaces, Unseen Blue (2002). 

James Turrell’s Unseen Blue

Someday we hope to add Roden Crater to this list. Located in the Painted Desert region of Northern Arizona, Roden Crater is a large-scale artwork created within a volcanic cinder cone that Turrell purchased after seeing it from an airplane flying overhead. It’s stated purpose is to be “a gateway to observe light, time and space.”

Roden Crater has never opened to the public, and access to the site has been limited to a handful of students and other invited visitors. However, to help raise funds to complete his work, Turrell recently partnered with Kanye West, who donated $10 million and recorded several songs for his new album. An IMAX documentary film about the space will be released on October 25, 2019.

Roden Crater

7. Ekeberg Park, Oslo, Norway

Have you ever tried to imagine the landscape that inspired Edvard Munch’s The Scream (1893)? Dear reader, Ekeberg Park is that place. And its also home to Oslo’s newest and most popular art park. 

Following an extensive rehabilitation, the park features a mix of work from classical masters, such as Rodin and Renoir, to more modern contemporary artists like Oslo-born sculptor Per Ung. You will find also Jenny Holzer’s signature text-based pieces and immersive light-and-color works by James Turrell.

The best destination art museums and art parks in the world: Ekebergparken. Courtesy Photo.

Tony Oursler’s Klang (2013) is a site-specific video- and sound-based installation embedded in a small cave. It traces the history of human communication, from ancient runes to cell phones.  And unlike many of the other spots on our list, this one is open 24 hours a day 24 days a year and is free to visit.

8. Wanås Konst, Skåne, Sweden

Located in the middle of a forest in southern Sweden is one of the world’s best open-air art museums. Wanås Konst was founded in 1987 by Marika Wachtmeister, an art-loving lawyer who married into the aristocratic family that’s presided over the remote Wanas estate for eight generations.

Though Wanås Konst feels like a well-kept secret of sorts, it is anything but. Over 250 artists have exhibited at Konst since its debut. And the park is home to more than 70 permanent pieces, including work from Ann Hamilton, Yoko Ono and Ann-Sofi Sidén

A top destination open-air art museum for your next vacation: Wanas Konst.

What we love most about Wanås Konst is that it serves as a prime example of the Swedish way of life. Where “allemansrätt” – everyone’s right to access public space, the freedom to roamis on full display.  The vision is that everyone, regardless of background, should be able to access and experience art.  We couldn’t agree more.

9. Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark 

Located 25 miles north of Copenhagen, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art is high on the list of must-visit destination art museums.

A top destination open-air art museum for your next vacation: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen.

The name was coined by the man who built the structure that eventually became the museum; he had three wives, each named Louise. Here, you’ll find a world-class collection of Modern and contemporary art, with two floors of work by Giacometti. And a Yayoi Kusama infinity room. Plus floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Øresund Sound 

10. Château La Coste, Aix-en-Provence, France

What would an art roundup be without a destination museum in France?  Château La Coste in Provence is a well known biodynamic winery. In 2004, the owners invited artists and architects from all over the world to select a sport within the vineyard to create whatever type of artwork they wished.  The result was a unique mix of contemporary art, architecture and wine culture – a feast for the eyes and the taste buds. 

A top destination open-air art museum for your next vacation: Château La Coste.

A two-hour walk through the vineyard will take you through a series of artworks and installations from contemporary artists. They include an immense spider created by Franco-American artist Louise Bourgeois. A chapel created by Tadao Ando. And a majestic red Murano glass cross, imagined by Jean Michel Othonel. Other works of note include one in the center of a forest. There, you’ll find yourself face-to-face with foxes cast in bronze from American artist Michael Stipe.

11. Arte Sella, Italy

Arte Sella is located in an Alpine valley in northern Italy. First established in 1986, the site is filled with marvelous and inventive works of art.

 top destination art museum for your next vacation

The top destination art museum for your next vacation: Arte Sella.

Most of the sculptures at Arte Sella are made with natural materials and have their own life cycles. They change with the seasons and will eventually decompose, returning organically to the earth. Winter is a particularly magical time for a visit, as a light dusting of snow makes the art works even more enchanting.

 top destination art museum for your next vacation

The top destination art museum for your next vacation: Arte Sella. Courtesy Photo.

It’s hard to choose a favorite, but we’re partial to one piece in particular. Hanging beneath a pine tree canopy, John Grade’s installation Reservoir looks like a dazzling outdoor chandelier.

 top destination art museum for your next vacation

A top destination art museum for your next vacation: Arte Sella.

12. Fundação de Serralves, Porto, Portugal

Encompassing a contemporary art museum, an Art Deco villa, and an idyllic garden, the Fundação de Serralves is home to more than 4,000 works of contemporary art, with a strong representation of Portuguese artists.

Serralves Foundation

The garden is interspersed with sculptures by artists such as Dan Graham, Angelo de Sousa, and Angela Bulloch.

best art park and open-air museum

The world’s best open-air museums, art islands, and art parks: Serralves Foundation.

Currently, the art park is hosting an exhibition by Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson, his first in Portugal. In Y/our Future is Now, the artist places several large-scale installations, both organic and artificial, within the museum as well as in the surrounding parkland. The goal is to foster a dialogue between inside and outside. 

13. Hakone Open-Air Museum, Hakone Mountains, Japan

About 3 hours south of Tokyo, next to Mount Fuji, you’ll find the Hakone Open-Air Museum.  The 17 acre site is Japan’s first outdoor museum, and it features stunning views of its famous neighboring peak. The lovely surroundings evolve from cherry blossoms in spring to vibrant autumn foliage. 

Hakone is home to over 120 modern and contemporary works by Japanese and international artists. It features more than two dozen pieces by British sculptor Henry Moore. And at least 100 other works by masters such as Isamu Noguchi, Joan Miró, and Auguste Rodin. There’s an entire Picasso Pavilion.

best art park and open-air museum

The best art parks and open-air museums: Hakone Open-Air Museum

One of the happiest and most famous works is Toshiko Horiuchi MacAdam’s “Woods of Net.”  The colorful hand knit net was strung from a timber dome built in accordance with ancient temple techniques. An added bonus: the massive structure doubles as a joyful interactive play space for kids of all ages.

best art park and open-air museum

The best art parks, art islands and destination art museums: Woods of Net at Hakone Open-air Museum

14. Naoshima Contemporary Art Museum with Benesse House, Naoshima Island, Japan

Once a sleepy fishing town, Naoshima Island was transformed into one of the most exciting contemporary art destinations in the world during the 1980’s. That’s thanks to the visionary ideas of Tetsuhiko Fukatake and the mayor of Naoshima. 

The island is now a living museum with different complexes. Its main draw, the Benesse House Museum, is a largely subterranean museum designed by Pritzker Prize winner Tadao Ando.  

best destination art museums

The best art islands and destination art museums: the Benesse House Museum.

The Chichu Art Museum houses a world-class collection of works by Modern masters, including Monet and James Turrell. Other highlights of the island include the Lee Ufan Museum.

Among the most prominent works on the island are pieces by Niki de Saint Phalle, Alberto Giacometti and Walter de Maria. And of course, Yayomi Kusama’s much-photographed giant pumpkin. This month will see the final part of the island’s Setouchi Triennale take place.

best art island

The best art islands and destination art museums: Yellow Pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama.

If you have more time, you can also take the ferry to the nearby Teshima Art Museum and the Inujima Seirensho Art Museum.

15. Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, Australia

Located about 20 miles north of Melbourne, the Heide Museum began as the home of John and Sunday Reed, a couple who purchased the property in 1934 and decided to open their doors to a circle of artists.

best destination art museums and art park

The best destination art parks, art islands and art museums: Heide Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy Photo.

Now a full-fledged museum (and no longer a private home), Heide boasts a singular collection of Australian modern art, including works by Mirka Mora, Charles Blackman, Joy Hester, and Albert Tucker.

16. Gibbs Farm, Makarau, New Zealand

New Zealand‘s Gibbs Farm is nearly twice as large as New York’s Storm King. The site features 1,200 acres of open-air art museum space about an hour north of Auckland. Artists range from Richard Serra and Graham Bennett to Peter Roche and Maya Lin. Their work plays off the dramatic landscape, which stretches along Kaipara Harbor, the largest estuary in the Southern Hemisphere.

best destination art museums and art park

The best art parks, art islands and destination art museums: Gibbs Farm Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment, Site 1. Courtesy Photo.

Anish Kapoor’s Dismemberment, Site 1 is the most famous installation here. It’s an 85-meter long cherry red trumpet set in a grass covered hill.  The farm’s exhibits are owned by art collector Alan Gibbs, who opens his property to the public free of charge on select days of the year.

17. The UCCA Dune Art Museum, Qinhangdao, China

Opened in late 2018, the UCCA Dune Art Museum is a few hours by either car or train from Beijing. in Hebei Province. Located on a quiet beach along the coast of northern China’s Bohai Bay, this museum exists primarily underneath the sand.

The best art parks, art islands and destination art museums: The UCCA Dune Art Museum.

It’s an innovative use of space and a way to ensure that the sand dunes the museum sits beneath are preserved. The 10,000-square-foot museum strategically uses skylights to illuminate the space and features three outdoor and seven indoor galleries.

The best art parks, art islands and destination art museums: The UCCA Dune Art Museuam. Photo Credit: Dezeen.

The ten galleries of the UCCA Dune Art Museum and a museum cafe are interlinked beneath the sand. The organically-shaped spaces are meant to echo those of caves, the earliest form of human refuge and a homage to ancient cave art.

The Best Destination Art Museums in the World

There you have it! An overview of wonderful destination art museums perfect for your next vacation. Which one is at the top of your list?

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For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.

Jillian Tangen is the Head of Research at Dandelion Chandelier. Formerly, she was a Senior Research Analyst at McKinsey & Co and Analyst at Shearman & Sterling. She is an avid fan of Nordic design, having owned an independent lifestyle store and sales agency focused on emerging Scandinavian design. She loves cross country skiing, the New York Rangers, reading, travel and discovering new brands.

Jillian Tangen

Jillian is a lifestyle editor at Dandelion Chandelier covering topics like fashion, travel, entertainment and on occasion, even finance. She thinks there’s no such thing as having too many sweaters.