Museums are unique places anywhere they exist. Retainers of history, science, art and culture, museums are not only important for the preservation and examination of human life - they can also be really fun and unique activities, especially given as there’s likely to be some type of museum for anything one can imagine.
Open-air museums are a particular subsection that is even more engaging: in these magical places, the public is on top of, inside, and surrounded by the museum and its contents. Not so much going to the museum as going into the museum! It’s no wonder they rank higher and higher in tourist popularity.
8 Luxor, Egypt
Egypt has a lot more awe-inspiring things to show than the pyramids - and Luxor has the monopoly on quite a few of them. With some of the most famous open-air museums in the world, the Luxor Temple, the Karnak Temple - both well-preserved ruins of monumental Egyptian temples visitors can walk into and between the stature, pillars, and murals, - and the Egyptian Necropolis - where the Valley of Queens and the Valley of Kings, the royal funeral chambers of the pharaohs are - all in its territory, one could wonder if Luxor as a whole couldn’t be considered an open-air museum!
7 Vigelandsparken, Norway
The Vigeland Park or Vigeland Sculpture Park is actually a park within a park, the informal name given to an installation of sculptures and architectural pieces by famous Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland. Vigelandsanlegget (Vigeland installation) is inside the Frogner Park in Oslo, whose structure was also designed by Vigeland. The installation has 212 sculptures, a fountain, and the main piece, The Monolith, an intricately sculpted monumental totem in white granite. A stone and bronze garden itself.
6 Naoshima, Japan
Naoshima is an island in Japan with sparkling blue waters, white-sand beaches, and a tranquil atmosphere - but it’s also one big contemporary art museum! Many of the buildings and galleries on the island were designed by Tadao Ando. Underground museum, contemporary art museums, art pavilion in public squares, sculpture gardens, a bathhouse that doubles as an art piece, and giant colorful pumpkins in the city: Naoshima is an island unlike any other, and a must for anyone interested in art (or fun!).
5 Hill of Witches, Lithuania
Raganų kalnas in Lithuanian, which is translated to Hill of Witches, is a sculpture, totem, and portal garden installed in a forest near the Curonian Lagoon, in Judokrantë, Lithuania. All of the sculptures are wood carved, a long-practiced folk art form in Lithuania, encapsulating the traditional folklore and pagan customs of the country. Dragons, goblins, fairies, devils, and, of course, witches populate the forest like folklore come to life, in a hill where the Joninės Midsummer Festival, a pagan heritage of Lithuania, is celebrated.
The exhibits started in 1979 but are constantly expanding and adding new works, now counting with over 80 different wood sculptures.
4 Oficina Brennand, Brazil
Oficina Brennand, full name Francisco Brennand Ceramics Workshop, is a sculpture park and art museum in Recife, Brazil. Featuring over 2,000 artworks, Oficina Brennand is a monumental structure, featuring sculptures, ceramics, mosaics, paintings, and drawings in Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand's mythological and literary style.
The works depict his lifelong exploration of the origin of life and the nature of time, creating a space in between workshop, park, museum, and art come to life.
3 Goreme, Turkey
Goreme is a rocky expanse of settlements in Turkey dating back to the 4th century. In the Goreme open-air museum, audiences can visit structures and churches built and cut right into the rocks, and see the enthralling Byzantine sculptures and frescos on the inside of these medieval monastery architectures.
2 Goldwell, United States
Turning the American desert into a surreal and colorful landscape, the Goldwell open-air museum near Rhyolite, Nevada, in the Amargosa Valley.
The Goldwell Open-Air Museum started in 1984 when Belgian artist Albert Szukalski completed his Last Supper, a larger-than-life sculpture of ghostly figures mirroring DaVinci’s Last Supper right in the middle of the Nevada desert. Over the years, more and more art pieces joined this first, turning a stretch of ghost land into a lively sculpture park.
1 Inhotim Institute, Brazil
Last but certainly not least, is the amazing Inhotim Institute in Brumadinho, Brazil. The Inhotim Institute is an art museum and botanical garden, the largest open-air museum in the world, holding some of the most important pieces of Brazilian contemporary and modern art. Nestled between the Atlantic Forest and the Cerrado vegetation are artist galleries, sculptures, and installations by the biggest names of Brazilian and international art. Not only man-made art makes the institute though, as the Botanical Garden and the varied types of plants and flowers are also artwork in themselves, that visitors can enjoy in between its 700 different art pieces.
Mixing art and nature in such an expansive way, Inhotim is a singular experience for any traveler.