As you all know, visiting museums throughout my travels is one of my favorite things to do. No matter which museum you go to, you are bound to find yourself lost in a wealth of knowledge on history, culture and art that will help you come to understand humanity through the ages.
With so many great museums to visit practically everywhere you go, it’s usually easier to choose which city you want to explore and then decide which museums you want to visit while you are there. But then again, there are some extraordinary museums that are almost worth visiting a particular city just to see. With that in mind, I’ve put together a list of museums that are at the top of my museum to-do list for this year.
Some of the entries on this list are museums that are inaugurating this year, while others are museums that are tried and tested gems that are worth visiting if you have a chance. Enjoy!
Zeitz MOCAA, Cape Town
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is primed to be a monumental opening over 15 years in the making. Set to be the biggest museum to open in Africa in over 100 years, the $38 million Zeitz will be located in the historic 1920s grain silo in Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, and boast over 9,500 square meters over 9 floors. It is expected that the museum offer a total of 80 galleries, 18 educational rooms and even a rooftop statue garden.
The collection to be exhibited in the MOCAA will be the impressive private collection of Jochen Zeitz, all of which was created since the turn of the millennium. The collection includes standout works from artists such as Owusu-Ankomah, Kudzanai Chiurai, Marlene Dumas, Rashid Johnson, an award-winning installation by artist Edson Chagas, and three large sculptures by Michele Mathison. Zeitz’s collection will remain in the museum until it can acquire enough of its own, so make sure to go and check out his legendary collection while you still can.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa | Silo District, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa
Ghibli Museum, Tokyo
An absolute dreamland for any fan of Miyazaki Hayao’s Studio Ghibli animated films, the Ghibli museum is a everything you would hope for and more. Designed by Miyazaki Hayao himself, the museum is itself a work of art straight out of his movies, and is designed to immerse you straight into the warped reality of Ghibli’s surreal animations.
Inside you will find artwork, giant models and plushies of iconic characters from films like My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Castle in the Sky and the Oscar winning Spirited Away. One of the most attractive features, however, is a tour in which you will learn about the history of the animation and the different techniques that they use, which is illustrated with evolving storyboards for all the classic Ghibli films. The biggest treat is at the end of this, when you will get the chance to visit the basement and watch several Ghibli short films that are not available for viewing elsewhere.
The Ghibli Museum also features temporary exhibitions, a Neko Bus themed children’s play area and a rooftop garden with a giant statue of the robot from Castle in the Sky.
Ghibli Museum |〒181-0013 Tokyo, Mitaka
Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum, Iga
While you are in Japan visiting the Ghibli Museum, you may also want to stick around and visit another fantastic little nugget: The Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum.
Located near the Iga Ueno Castle, the museum is in the shape of a realistic ninja residence, which features all sorts of ninja tricks and secrets such as fake hallways, revolving walls, trap doors and hidden compartments containing secret texts and weapons. The museum also features two exhibition halls showcasing over 400 ninja weapons and tools, as well as a stage where ninjutsu demonstrations are routinely held using real ninja weapons. If you want to learn more about ninjas before visiting the museum NinjaCasino has a great article about them, including more information about the Ninja museum as well.
Iga-Ryu Ninja Museum|〒518-0873 Mie Prefecture, Iga, Uenomarunouchi
Musées Yves Saint Laurent, Paris and Marrakech
Not content with opening only one museum, the iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s estate will be opening two museums this year: One in Paris and one in Marrakech. While Paris is exciting as it’s only a short commute away from London, going to Morocco would be quite an adventure in itself and certainly worth it to see the amazing Jardin Majorelle, which Saint Laurent owned since 1980 and where his ashes are scattered. The Musées Yves Saint Laurent will be built right next to the Jardin Majorelle, making it a true shrine to this great designer.
Each museum will house thousands of pieces of couture clothing, accessories, photographs, sketches and other mementos that represent Saint Laurent’s work throughout his long spanning career. If you are a fashion enthusiast or appreciate the great innovations in couture and design throughout the ages, you are certainly in for a treat.
Musées Yves Saint Laurent Paris | 5 Avenue Marceau, 75116 Paris, France
Musées Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech | Rue Yves St Laurent, Marrakech 40000, Morocco
Louvre Abu Dhabi, UAE
The Louvre, one of the best and most famous museums in the world, is set to open a second museum in Abu Dhabi as part of a 30 year deal between the city of Abu Dhabi and the French government. Initially planned for a 2012 opening, the long delayed museum is set to finally open its doors in autumn this year in what is one of the most anticipated museum openings in history.
Designed by award-winning firm Ateliers Jean Nouvel, the museum will consist of a whole “city” of white buildings inspired by the Arab medina, and will be host a large collection of western and eastern art they have acquired and been loaned from a variety of French museums – including, of course, the Louvre in Paris.
Louvre Abu Dhabi | Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi