15 most underrated museums often overlooked by travelers

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Today, the world has a multitude of museums that extend beyond showcasing ancient artifacts. Museums now educate us on a wide range of subjects, from hairpins to giant dinosaur fossils. Cities like Paris, London, and New York excel in curating and displaying human ingenuity through art. In addition to mainstream museums, there are underrated museums worldwide that delve deep into human imagination, offering insights into tradition, culture, science, and history. Read this blog to discover underrated museums worldwide and consider visiting them on your next trip.

1. The Toledo Museum of Art

Location: Ohio, USA

Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio

The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio was founded in 1901 by Edward Drummond Libbey, a glassmaker. This hidden gem boasts a diverse collection of over 30,000 artworks, showcasing treasures from ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Greece, and Rome, alongside masterpieces by renowned artists like El Greco, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Van Gogh. Housed in a majestic Greek revival-style building sprawling across 280,000 square feet, the museum features 45 galleries, a concert hall, classrooms, a lecture hall, a cozy café, and a charming gift shop.


1. Glass Pavilion
2. Sculpture Garden
3. Houses at Auvers by Vincent van Gogh
4. The Architect’s Dream by Thomas Cole

2. MONA Tasmania

Location: Hobart, Australia

MONA Tasmania

Mona Tasmania, located in Hobart, Australia, is a unique museum that pushes boundaries with its contemporary art installations and thought-provoking exhibitions. Founded by David Walsh in 2011, this avant-garde museum challenges traditional notions of art and engages visitors in immersive experiences that involve themes around sex and death. The museum also hosts annual festivals like Mona Foma and Dark Mofo, offering a mix of music and art. MONA's architecture, designed by Fender Katsalidis Architects, is mostly underground to preserve the heritage setting of the property.


1. The Divine Comedy by artist Alrefo Jaar
2. Snake by Sidney Nolan

3. Vasa Museum

Location: Stockholm, Sweden

Vasa Museum

The Vasa Museum in Stockholm is a renowned maritime museum that houses the best-preserved seventeenth-century ship in the world, the Vasa. The Vasa, a 69-meter-long warship, sank on its maiden voyage in Stockholm harbor in 1628 and was salvaged 333 years later in 1961. Through meticulous restoration efforts spanning nearly five decades, the Vasa has been brought back to a state closely resembling its original, with an astonishing 98 percent of the ship being authentic. The variety of exhibitions centered around the ship delve into topics such as the daily life onboard and the historical significance surrounding the Vasa.


1. Painted Reproductions
2. The Stern Gallery

4. Reina Sofia Museum

Location: Madrid, Spain

Reina Sofia Museum

The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid, Spain, is a cultural hub known for its extensive collection of contemporary art. The museum showcases iconic works, including Picasso's Guernica, which stands as a poignant symbol of anti-war sentiment. Founded in 1992, the museum is housed in a renovated eighteenth-century hospital. The Reina Sofia Museum is known for its innovative and experimental approach to exhibiting art. The museum often presents temporary exhibitions that explore contemporary themes and issues, as well as retrospectives of individual artists.


1. "Naturaleza muerta" (Still Life) by Salvador Dalí
2. The Open Window by Juan Gris
3. Woman in Blue by Picasso

5. Museum of Broken Relationships

Location: Zagreb, Croatia

Museum of Broken Relationships

The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb, founded in 2003 by artists Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić, showcases personal items from failed relationships. Initially a traveling collection, the museum has evolved into a popular attraction, receiving the Kenneth Hudson Award for Europe's most innovative museum in 2011. Items are donated from around the world, displayed with relationship details and annotations from anonymous contributors. The museum has also toured cities like Berlin, Belgrade, Rijeka, and Los Angeles, collecting new donations from the public.


1. Ex-axe
2. The WiFi password
3. Love letters

6. Topkapi Palace Museum

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

Topkapi Palace Museum

Istanbul, Turkey is home to the Topkapi Palace Museum, a historic landmark that offers a glimpse into the opulent lifestyle of the Ottoman sultans. This sprawling palace complex served as the primary residence and administrative headquarters of the Ottoman sultans for nearly 400 years. Visitors can explore the palace's lavish courtyards, exquisite pavilions, and impressive collections of precious artifacts, including jewelry, manuscripts, and weaponry. The Harem section provides insight into the private lives of the sultans and their families.


1. Jeweled Bookbindings
2. Chinese Ceramics
3. Collection of Carpets

7. The Dalí Museum

Location: Girona, Spain

Dali Museum, Girona

The Dalí Museum , nestled in Girona, Spain, stands as a one-of-a-kind establishment honoring the extraordinary legacy of surrealist Salvador Dalí. Housed within the revamped Figueres Municipal Theatre, a project personally overseen by Dalí following its destruction during the Spanish Civil War, this museum is a treasure trove of Dalí's most iconic works. Delving into not only his timeless masterpieces but also his fascination with scientific exploration, holography, and various academic realms, the museum presents a rich tapestry of Dalí's paintings, sketches, sculptures, and artistic creations that offer a tantalizing peek into the enigmatic mind of the celebrated artist.


1. Port Alguer
2. The Spectre of Sex-appeal
3. Galarina
4. Mae West Lips Sofa

8. Museo de la Ciencia CosmoCaixa

Location: Barcelona, Spain

CosmoCaixa, Barcelona

CosmoCaixa, located in Barcelona, Spain, is not your typical science museum—it's more like a playground for curious minds! Since 1981, this gem has been wowing visitors with interactive exhibits on everything from the environment to outer space. Sponsored by la Caixa, the museum resides in a modernista building designed by Josep Domènech i Estapà from 1904 to 1909. With exhibits covering topics like the evolution of the universe, the wonders of the Amazon rainforest, and the fascinating geology of Catalonia, CosmoCaixa aims to make science fun and accessible to all.


1. Flooded Forest
2. Hall of Matter
3. Geological Wall

9. Ghibli Museum

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Ghibli Museum

The Ghibli Museum, located in Mitaka, a city in western Tokyo, Japan, is all about celebrating the art and magic of animation, especially the awesome work of Studio Ghibli, one of Japan's top animation studios. Designed by Hayao Miyazaki, the genius behind the studio, this place is like a labyrinth filled with cool stuff about the history and secrets of animation. You can wander around a mini animation studio, catch exclusive short films by Studio Ghibli in a cozy theater, and even spot a three-dimensional zoetrope called "Bouncing Totoro." There’s also a "Castle in the Sky" robot chilling in the rooftop garden and the epic life-sized Catbus from "My Neighbor Totoro" that kids can actually climb on.


1. Studio Ghibli Art Director's Studio
2. The Ghibli Forest Movies
3. Flying ships from "Laputa"

10. Bode-Museum

Location: Berlin, Germany

Bode Museum, Berlin

Located on Museum Island, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bode Museum in Berlin was originally built in 1904 to showcase European Renaissance art. Known for its stunning Sculpture Collection and Museum of Byzantine Art, the Bode Museum takes you on a journey through the Middle Ages to the 18th century, with a special focus on the Italian Renaissance and German late Gothic era. Explore the museum's extensive collection of over 150 paintings, featuring captivating Roman and Byzantine pieces, along with the renowned Münzkabinett housing a world-class assortment of coins and medals.


German Gothic works by Tilman Riemenschneider
Satyr with Panther by Pietro Bernini
Portrait of a Young Man by Baccio Bandinelli

11. Smritivan Earthquake Memorial and Museum

Location: Bhuj, India

The Smritivan Earthquake Memorial and Museum, located on Bhujiyo Hill in Bhuj, Gujarat, India, pays homage to the victims of the 2001 Gujarat earthquake. This memorial park is spread across a vast area of 470 acres and boasts over 13,000 trees, each dedicated to an earthquake victim. The museum itself covers 11,500 square meters and consists of seven blocks, showcasing different themes like the Earth's evolution, the topography and natural disaster risks of Gujarat, the aftermath of the 2001 earthquake, rebuilding efforts, disaster preparedness, and a memorial space for the victims.


1. 5D earthquake simulator
2. Evolution of Earth
3. Sunset point

12. Capitoline Museums

Location: Rome, Italy

Capitolie Museums

The Capitoline Museums in Rome, Italy, are a group of art and archaeological museums located on top of the Capitoline Hill in Piazza del Campidoglio. Founded in 1471 and considered the world's oldest public museum, the Capitoline Museums are located on Capitoline Hill, one of the Seven Hills of Rome. The museums' history can be traced back to the 15th century when Pope Sixtus IV donated a collection of important ancient bronzes to the people of Rome and located them on the Capitoline Hill. The statue of a mounted rider in the center of the piazza is of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, with the original housed on-site in the Capitoline Museum. The museums are interlinked by an underground passage that crosses Campidoglio Square without having to go outside the museums.


1. Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius
2. The Dying Gaul
3. The Hall of Philosophers
4. The Capitoline She-wolf

13. Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, situated in Wellington, New Zealand, is an awe-inspiring cultural institution that showcases the rich history and heritage of the country. It houses a vast repository of collections, including more than 800,000 artworks, objects, and specimens. The museum offers cutting-edge interactive exhibitions with a contemporary and bicultural approach, making it accessible for all. The best part? You can get in for free, except for the occasional special exhibitions that might require a small fee. They've got some awesome long-term exhibitions too, like Te Taiao Nature, where you can learn all about New Zealand's wildlife and seismic history, and Toi Art, a gallery space that features interactive and immersive works alongside the national art collection.


1. Quake Braker
2. Nature Zone
3. Mana Whenua exhibition

15. Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

Location: Cape Town, South Africa

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA) is an extraordinary public institution that is also the largest museum dedicated to contemporary African art worldwide. There are 100 gallery spaces, stretching across an impressive 6,000 square meters spread over nine floors. The museum is housed in a repurposed historic grain silo, with the original structure's industrial concrete cylinders still intact. Giant windows flood the galleries with natural light, creating a dynamic interplay between the artwork and the surrounding historic building. The museum's collection includes works by acclaimed and award-winning artists like Mary Sibande, Frances Goodman, Kendell Geers, William Kentridge, and Nicholas Hlob.

Most underrated museums in the world