Top Must-Visit Private Museums in the USA

The Living Hall, The Frick Collection, New York
The Living Hall, The Frick Collection, New York | © Arcaid Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Lucy Andia

Private museums are not just gallery spaces. They live and breathe with a vivacity that is sometimes lost on national institutions. Independently minded and curated, they work to engage us with art in ways we never thought possible before. Here are the Top 10 Must-Visit Private Museums in the USA. If you ever lack inspiration, now you’ll know where to go.

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Glenstone Museum

Glenstone modern art museum in Maryland

Built on a 200-acre former fox hunting estate, the Glenstone Museum in Maryland stands proudly as tribute to modernist architecture whilst at the same time maintaining a symbiotically organic relationship with the surrounding landscape. The location is isolated, encouraging interested pilgrims to take that extra step in search of a tranquil contemplation of art, architecture, and nature. If you have never seen post-WWII art in a setting like this, a visit to the Glenstone Museum is not to be missed.

De la Cruz Collection

Established in 2009, the collection of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz in Florida is not just about public enjoyment of a stunning collection of contemporary art, but encouragement for local communities to engage with art in new and exciting ways. Inviting local Miami artists to create space-specific installations based on their visiting experience has truly wonderful results, as tailor-made never rang so true. With lectures, workshops and rotating exhibitions throughout the year, the De La Cruz Collection brings art to life in a delightfully inclusive manner. The current exhibition, Beneath the Surface looks at artists who are reshaping the way the American landscape speaks to the ongoing forces of globalization.

Hall Art Foundation

The Hall Art Foundation was founded in Vermont, 2007 to give the public a taste of the collections of Andrew and Christine Hall. The public can view selections of this striking collection of postwar and contemporary artworks in institutions around the world, most notably the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, England) and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art. However, it is the exhibition space in Vermont that truly stands out. Comprised of three barns on a former 19th century dairy farm, the galleries challenge your expectations of space and give your mind all the room it needs to wander.

The Warehouse

The Warehouse, a repurposed industrial building in Dallas, Texas is the meeting point for art. The museum features the postwar Modern and contemporary artworks of Howard Rachofsky and Vernon Faulconer, loaned pieces from the Dallas Museum of Art, and other pieces from various institutions. In this way, The Warehouse endeavours to initiate a dialogue between pieces that have never been paired before. Where else can you find paintings by German Gerard Richter and films by South African William Kentridge next to each other, under one roof? Exhibitions are changing constantly, creating a dynamic environment that invite you back for multiple revisits.

The Barnes Foundation

Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia

The Barnes Foundation was established in 1922, and to this today has one of the best collections of Post-Impressionist and early paintings. Including artworks by Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse and, Modigliani, the permanent collection in Pennsylvania is a sea of colour that takes your breath away. More than paintings, the collection also includes examples of Old Masters, Native American ceramics, jewelry and textiles, and antiquities from as far afield as Asia. In addition to the exhibition space, the Barnes Arboretum contains of over 2,000 types of trees and plants for public viewing. Albert C. Barnes’s passion for the fine arts and horticulture resutled in the establishment this foundation, and he has surely injected future generations with the same appreciation.

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection

The Frick Collection is held within the former New York mansion of Henry Clay Frick, Pittsburgh industrialist. Containing artworks from the Renaissance to the late 19th century, this museum creates a sense of awe that can only be created by such greats as El Greco, Goya, Turner, and Vermeer. Wander through this stately home and let your eyes feast on oriental carpets, Chinese porcelains, and Old Master paintings. The Frick Collection transports all who enter into a world of pure aesthetic pleasure and grandeur, where around each corner there awaits new delight.

The Phillips Collection

Phillips Collection

The Philips Collection was founded in 1921 in the former home of Duncan Phillips. It calls itself America’s First Museum of Modern Art and this is a claim I am not willing to contest. The collection, located in DC is far from stagnant, as in the spirit of dynamism, artworks are still being accrued today. The possibilities for exhibition are endless, and no wall remains the same for very long. When visiting, take in the artworks as though for the last time, endeavoring to taste each contour whilst feeling each brushstroke.

The Brant Foundation Art Study Center

The Brant Foundation Art Study Centre opened to the public in Connecticut, 2009 in what was once a stone fruit barn. The space was converted by architect Richard Gluckman, and is architecturally, also a piece of art to be marvelled at. The Brant collection is notable for its dynamic representation of key artists, as works from all stages in artistic careers are included. Previous solo exhibitions include Andy Warhol, Karen Kilimnik, and Julian Schnabel.

Pier 24 Photography

Pier 24 Photography Gallery, San Francisco

Pier 24 self-describes as, “a place to view and think about photography”. Looking at this exhibition space, one is inclined to view it as a picture-perfect image in itself. The building was constructed in 1935 and lies directly underneath the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, California. From the outside, visitors can take in a panoramic view of the bay, while inside is built as a darkened and tranquil space that provides a minimalist photography viewing experience as intended by the photographers.

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