Fabulous Private Art Museums
Escape the crowds at these privately owned collections in Venice, Basel, Napa and more.
You’ve ticked off the Tate Modern, lingered in the Louvre and marveled at the Met. But now you’re in the mood for an out-of-the-ordinary museum experience far from the madding crowds. What’s an art aficionado to do? Simple: Skip the marquee museums—with their long lines and dawdling tour groups—and seek out some of the world’s most fabulous privately owned art museums.
There are such gem-like collections in every corner of the globe. Some are hiding in plain sight, in well-known capital cities, while others are sequestered away in remote settings that require a sense of adventure—or, at least, a reliable GPS—to find. And some, like pop star George Michael’s Goss-Michael Foundation in Dallas, are the culmination of a collector’s particular obsession (in this case, contemporary British art), while others, like the famed Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, span a range of eras and genres. Places like the Salvador Dalí Museum in the Surrealist master’s hometown of Figueres, Spain, offer a comprehensive paean to a single artist.
Along with the chance to appreciate world-class art collections, private museums also afford visitors the rare opportunity to take a peek into the lives and passions of some of the world’s wealthiest and most powerful people. Several of the museums on our list are the actual former homes of their patrons (and who doesn’t love poking around in someone else’s house, especially when their taste is as exquisite as Peggy Guggenheim’s?).
Best of all, since many private museums are personal projects rather than crowd-pleasers, you’ll likely get to explore them in relative quiet. A whirlwind tour can feel like a private art-appreciation odyssey.