15 top-rated museums and art galleries in Munich

Perhaps unsurprisingly for a city of this size – after all it is the third largest in Germany with a population of almost one and a half million – Munich has more museums and art galleries than any visitor could ever hope for in a month, let alone during a shorter stay. The city’s more than 80 museums range from massive state-run facilities, with rich collections of antiquities and works of art, to smaller museums focusing on a single theme, such as the history of the potato.

The reasons for such a huge selection of museums and galleries have less to do with the city’s size than with its prosperity and centuries-long tradition as a center of the arts. Several of these are located in the city’s arts district, the Kunstareal, a neighborhood designed for history and art lovers. Munich celebrates its grandeur in October, with the Long Night of Museums, when art galleries, museums and other cultural centers stay open past midnight and offer special exhibitions, concerts and film screenings.

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1 Editor’s Pick The Residenz Museum

The Residence Museum

In the massive Munich Residenz , the main palace of Bavaria’s rulers, the Residenz Museum is the most important (and largest) of the city’s many museums and galleries. While much of the vast palace complex is open to the public, many of the most interesting sites are included under the umbrella of the Residenz Museum, which opened to the public in 1920 and is now considered one of the best palace museums in Europe . A highlight of a visit is the beautiful Antiquarium, the first part of the Residenz is built and completed in 1571. This 69 meter long hall, with its barrel vault roof and side vaults above the windows, is filled with antique busts and statues, as well as more than 100 painted views of the most picturesque towns and castles from Bavaria. The Gallery of Ancestors (Ahnengalerie) contains 121 portraits of Bavarian rulers; the Porcelain Room (Porzellankabinett) contains extensive collections from Vienna, Meissen and Würzburg. The quirky Grotto Court(Grottenhof), built from crystals and shells in 1586, is highlighted by a fine bronze figure of Mercury and the beautiful Perseus Fountain from the same period. Free audio guides are available and tours in English can be booked in advance. There is so much to see at the Residenz Museum that you should be prepared to spend at least a day enjoying this impressive attraction.

Address: Residenzstrasse 1, 80333 Munich

Official site: www.residenz-muenchen.de/englisch/museum/index.htm

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2 The German Museum

The German Museum
The German Museum

The Deutsches Museum is the world’s largest museum of technology, covering more than 50,000 square meters and containing 17,000 artifacts. Founded in 1903, the museum’s sections are well organized with clear explanations, making it easy for visitors to follow the development of each scientific discipline and field of technology through state-of-the-art displays of scientific equipment and fascinating demonstrations and experiments. Highlights include a number of rare German aircraft, including the vertical takeoff Dornier Do 31 transport aircraft and a number of early military jet aircraft. An extensive land transportation collection covers everything from bicycles and cars to trains and ships, including pre-1900 motor vehicles, like an 1885 Daimler Maybach, and vintage train engines. The extensive display of musical instruments, where concerts and demonstrations are often hosted, includes organs and pianos. English-language tours are available with advance reservation.

Address: Museum Island 1, 80538 Munich

Official site: www.deutsches-museum.de/en

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3 The Treasury at the Residenz

The Treasury at the Residenz Chrstian Stock / photo modified
The Treasury at the Residenz Chrstian Stock / photo modified

The many treasures collected by the Dukes and Electors of Bavaria over the centuries make the Treasury (Schatzkammer) in the Residenz one of the largest, most important and most valuable collections of its kind. Founded by Duke Albrecht V in the 16th century, the Treasury built up further treasures from the cities of Heidelberg, Düsseldorf and Mannheim during the reign of Karl Theodor. The last items were added in the early 19th century, including the insignia of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Spread over more than ten rooms, the collection includes highlights such as a prayer book from AD 860, a cross dating from around AD 1000 that belonged to Queen Gisela, the beautiful statuette of St. George from 1599, and unique items from non-European countries including ivories of Ceylon, Turkish daggers and Chinese porcelain.

Address: Residenzstrasse 1, 80333 Munich

Official site: www.residenz-muenchen.de/englisch/treasury/index.htm

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4 The Old Picture Gallery: Alte Pinakothek

The Old Picture Gallery: Alte Pinakothek
The Old Picture Gallery: Alte Pinakothek

Munich’s Old Picture Gallery (Alte Pinakothek), one of the world’s largest and most beautiful facilities, was built between 1836 to replace an older gallery that had become too small for the steadily increasing Royal Collection. Credited as a “masterpiece of architectural proportions”, this beautiful old gallery – modeled after the Renaissance palaces of Venice – was the largest gallery in Europe built in the first half of the 19th century, thus becoming the model for others in both Rome and Brussels. It is a truly massive structure, 127 meters long with short side wings, and home to many wonderful collections, including numerous old Flemish and Dutch paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries (including a rare Rembrandt self-portrait),Virgin and Child , from 1436), and a wide collection of medieval German paintings from the 15th and early 16th centuries. The Rubens collection is one of the world’s largest and Spanish and French masterpieces are also represented. Guided tours are available in English with advance notice, while audio guides are included in the admission price.

Address: Barer Strasse 27, 80333 Munich

Official site: www.pinakothek.de/en/alte-pinakothek

5 The New Image Gallery: Neue Pinakothek

The New Image Gallery: Neue Pinakothek Allie_Caulfield / photo modified
The New Image Gallery: Neue Pinakothek Allie_Caulfield / photo modified

Founded in 1853 by King Ludwig I of Bavaria, the New Picture Gallery (Neue Pinakothek) is considered one of the world’s most important collections of 19th-century artwork. It holds about 400 paintings and 50 sculptures, ranging from Rococo to Art Nouveau masterpieces, as well as works by Cézanne, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Manet and Monet. Much of the collection is divided between 22 Säle (large rooms) and 11 Kabinette (small rooms), where they are exhibited under such groups as International Paintings, English Paintings (one of the largest collections outside the UK and featuring works by Gainsborough , Hogarth and Constable) and German artists of classicism. Guided tours in English are available on request with a variety of themes to choose from,

Address: Barer Strasse 29, 80799 Munich

Official site: www.pinakothek.de/en/neue-pinakothek

6 The Bavarian National Museum

The Bavarian National Museum
The Bavarian National Museum

Founded in 1855 by King Maximilian II, the Bavarian National Museum (Bayerisches Nationalmuseum), one of Europe’s foremost museums of decorative arts, stands on a forum-like extension of the beautiful Prinzregentenstrasse. One of the most remarkable exhibits is the collection of medieval German sculptures and the vast wealth of tapestries. There are also important collections of bronzes, bells, porcelain and glass, and a large section devoted to the art and cultural history of Bavaria, arranged chronologically from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. (The late Gothic and Renaissance furniture, in particular, testify to the heights reached by bourgeois culture in southern Germany). Also noteworthy are the Augsburg weaver’s room, the room with the Flemish tapestries and the model towns. The porcelain exhibition is also of interest and includes pieces from Meissen, Nymphenburg and Ansbach, as well as French potteries and a number of smaller manufacturers.

Address: Prinzregentenstrasse 3, 80538 Munich

Official site: https://www.bayerisches-nationalmuseum.de

7 The Glyptothek: Munich’s Ancient Sculpture Gallery

The Glyptothek: Munich's Ancient Sculpture Gallery
The Glyptothek: Munich’s Ancient Sculpture Gallery

The Glyptothek – a name derived from the Greek ‘glyptik’, meaning sculpture – is the oldest museum in Munich. Completed in 1830, this neoclassical building houses one of the most important sculpture collections in Europe, most of which was collected in the early 19th century by King Ludwig I, a great lover of ancient art. Fronted by an Ionic portico, the many rooms are lit from the central courtyard, the exterior walls are windowless and lined with numerous statues. Highlights include many rare works of Greek and Roman sculpture, including the fine figures from the pediment of the Temple of Aphaia from 500 BC. Other highlights include a statue of Homer; a statue of Irene, the Greek goddess of peace; and a Sphinx from the roof of the Aeginetan Temple. Also of interest – and only a short walk away in a pleasant park – is itNational Collections of Antiquities (Staatliche Antikensammlungen), home to the Bavarian collections of Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities.

Address: Konigsplatz 3, 80333 Munich

Official site: www.antike-am-koenigsplatz.mwn.de/en/glyptothek-munich.html

8 Pinakothek der Moderne

Pinakothek der Moderne digital cat / photo modified
Pinakothek der Moderne digital cat / photo modified

In a beautiful modern building in Munich’s art district, Kunstareal, Pinakothek der Moderne incorporates the former State Gallery of Modern Art with three other notable collections to form Germany’s largest modern art museum. Featuring graphics, applied arts and architecture, as well as paintings, the museum is particularly strong in its collections of German artists including Klee, Schlemmer, Nolde, Baselitz and Kiefer. But among the large collection of modern and contemporary art are works by Picasso, Magritte, Kandinsky, Francis Bacon and Warhol. English-language tours are available upon request and audio guides are included in the admission price.

Address: Barerstrasse 40, 80333 Munich

9 Lenbachhaus

Lenbachhaus Allie_Caulfield / photo modified
Lenbachhaus Allie_Caulfield / photo modified

In the villa that was the home and studio of Franz von Lenbach, a popular late 19th century artist and portrait painter, Lenbachhaus and its modern extension houses an unparalleled collection of paintings by the Blauer Reiter – Blue Rider group. This movement, led by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc, transformed the art world in the early 20th century. Together with the world’s largest ensemble of paintings by the Blue Rider artists, the collections include works by other artists in their sphere. Displays follow Kandinsky’s and Marc’s theory that the essence of art is intrinsic and that folk art, children’s art, and other naive expressions with should be viewed with the same appreciation as the works of the old masters. These innovative displays,

Address: Luisenstrasse 33, Munich

Official site: https://www.lenbachhaus.de/?L=1

10 Documentation Center for the History of National Socialism

Opened in 2015, the museum tells the origins and rise of the National Socialists – the Nazi Party. In addition to documenting the atrocities of this dark era in German history, the museum explores the roots of discontent and anger that created an atmosphere for extremism to flourish, and shows how the movement grew as people misjudged or favored their power chose to ignore the potential for destruction. The permanent exhibits are chronological and contain no artifacts. But the stark images and well-presented information (in German and English) tell a powerful and compelling story – and a warning to later generations with no personal memory of the terror of the period or the devastation of Munich in World War II.

Address: Brienner Strasse 34, Munich

Official site: https://www.ns-dokuzentrum-muenchen.de/1/home/

11 BMW World and Museum

BMW World and Museum
BMW World and Museum

The BMW Museum is housed in a modern silver building that can best be described as a giant metal soup bowl. Measuring approximately 41 meters in diameter, it provides a striking counterpoint to the company’s adjacent skyscraper and sprawling factory complex. This attraction features examples of BMW’s first vehicles, with examples of nearly all ever produced by the company, from the unusual 1920s Dixi to the ostentatious sports and racing cars of the 1950s and 1960s, as well as world record-breaking motorcycles. The current segment of BMW includes modern models of BMW and demonstrations of modern production methods and a look into the future focused on new forms of propulsion and futuristic designs and transport systems.

Address: Am Olympiapark 2, 80809 Munich

Official site: www.bmw-welt.com/en/

12 The State Bavarian Archaeological Collection

The Bavarian State Archaeological Collection digital cat / photo modified
The Bavarian State Archaeological Collection digital cat / photo modified

Although housed in a well-designed, modern building overlooking Munich’s pretty English garden, the Bavarian State Archaeological Collection (Archäologische Staatssammlung) can trace its roots back to 1759 with the founding of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. Towards the end of the 19th century, the anthropologist Johannes Ranke’s attempt to create a separate museum of prehistory paid off and the resulting collection is widely regarded as one of the most important archaeological museums in Europe. Highlights include local finds from the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic periods, including stone tools and pottery, as well as weapons and tools from the Bronze Age and Middle Ages, including items from a royal tomb at Wittislingen. Tourists with a special interest in the ancient world will also appreciate the State Museum of Egyptian Art, an impressive collection of antiquities that is now in Kunstareal.

Address: Lerchenfeldstrasse 2, 80538 Munich

Official site: www.archaeologie-bayern.de/en/english-home/

13 Museum Brandhorst

Museum Brandhorst digital cat / photo modified
Museum Brandhorst digital cat / photo modified

One of Munich’s newer museums – and one of the most interesting architecturally – the Museum Brandhorst opened in 2009 to house an excellent collection of modern art. Highlights of the more than 700 pieces on display include 100 works by Andy Warhol, along with approximately 60 pieces by Cy Twombly, the largest such collection outside the US. Other artists included Joseph Beuys, Damien Hirst, Bruce Nauman and Eric Fischl. One of the most important parts of this impressive museum is the rare collection of more than 100 books, illustrated by Pablo Picasso. English audio guides are available.

Address: Theresienstraße 35a, 80333 Munich

Official site: www.museum-brandhorst.de/en.html

14 Villa vast

At the turn of the 20th century, Munich’s art scene was a vibrant and thriving city full of new ideas and driven by a middle class eager to nurture its own tastes and standards. A new standard was sweeping through Europe, broadening the definition of art to include architecture, design, applied arts and traditional paintings. Art fused with architecture, so that a house can be completely designed by one artist, including the interior and furniture. In Germany, this movement was known as Jugendstil, elsewhere as Arts & Crafts or Art Nouveau. Franz von Stuck, leader of this movement, designed one of Europe’s masterpieces of the time, a villa whose design merges coffered ceilings, inlaid floors, the furniture and even the tapestries on the walls into a single harmonious work of art. The villa is now a museum and one of Europe’s finest examples of the period’s artistic sensibilities.

Address: Prinzregentenstrasse 60, 81675 Munich

Official site: https://www.villastuck.de

15 The Schack Gallery

Housed in a building designed in 1907 for the Prussian legation, the Schack Gallery (Sammlung Schack) contains a remarkable collection illustrating the development of German painting in the 19th century. Its founder, Count Adolf Friedrich von Schack, was a generous patron of the art, purchasing and commissioning a large number of works by many leading 19th-century German painters, including Schwind, Spitzweg, Böcklin and Lenbach (whose home and studio, Lenbachhaus, now house the excellent Blue Rider and Expressionist collections). Schack’s collection is now part of the Bavarian State Collection, which includes paintings from the early Romantic school of Johann Georg von Dillis, Leo von Klenze and Joseph Anton Koch. Their works capture the mystical, almost fairytale settings of the time of Romanticism in art. Other highlights include masterpieces by Carl Rottmann, Joseph von Führich and Edward von Steinle.

Address: Prinzregentenstrasse 9, 80538 Munich

Official site: https://www.pinakothek.de/en/sammlung-schack

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