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World Museums


The British Museum (Great Britain)

London is a city rich in museums. There's museums full of toys, furniture, wax people, antique furniture, in fact, something for practically every taste. It's hard to see them all, even if you're here for a very long time, so picking which museums to see can sometimes be quite difficult. Still for most visitors, The British Museum always ranks as one of London's most popular.

The British Museum had it's origins back in 1753 when the government was given various collections by a famous physician, Sir Hans Soane. The museum's collections have grown through the years and the present building was erected in the early 1830s. Until last year, the British Museum shared it's location with The British Library, which among other important tasks, houses a copy of every book published in Britain since 1911 (required by law!), and the buildings of the former Library are in the process of being converted into a new visitor's centre for the Museum. The Museum is one of the few quality tourist sites in London that is also still free to the public. This may change in the very near future though, and any donations are gratefully accepted as you enter.

The Louvre (France)

The Louvre is situated between the rue de Rivoli and the Seine. It is the most important public building in Paris and one of the largest and most magnificent palaces in the world,the construction of which extended over three centuries. However, its great architectural and historical interest is sometimes overshadowed by the popularity of the art-collection which it contains. It became a national art gallery and museum since 1793.
Probably one of the most important painting that it contains is the Mona Lisa. Over four century old, it still fascinates hundreds of visitors. As Michelet wrote: "This canvas attracts me, calls me, invades me, absorbs me. I go to it in spite of myself, like a bird to a snake".

The National Gallery of art (USA)

The National Gallery of Art was created in 1937 for the people of the United States of America by a joint resolution of Congress, accepting the gift of financier and art collector Andrew W. Mellon. During the 1920s, Mr. Mellon began collecting with the intention of forming a gallery of art for the nation in Washington. In 1937, the year of his death, he promised his collection to the United States. Funds for the construction of the West Building were provided by The A. W. Mellon Educational and Charitable Trust. On March 17, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the completed building and the collections on behalf of the people of the United States of America.

The paintings and works of sculpture given by Andrew Mellon have formed a nucleus of high quality around which the collections have grown. Mr. Mellon's hope that the newly created National Gallery would attract gifts from other collectors was soon realized in the form of major donations of art from Samuel H. Kress, Rush H. Kress, Joseph Widener, Chester Dale, Ailsa Mellon Bruce, Lessing J. Rosenwald, and Edgar William and Bernice Chrysler Garbisch as well as individual gifts from hundreds of other donors.

The Gallery's East Building, located on land set aside in the original Congressional resolution, was opened in 1978. It accommodates the Gallery's growing collections and expanded exhibition schedule and houses an advanced research center, administrative offices, a great library, and a burgeoning collection of drawings and prints. The building was accepted for the nation on June 1, 1978, by President Jimmy Carter. Funds for construction were given by Paul Mellon and the late Ailsa Mellon Bruce, the son and daughter of the founder, and by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

The Collectors Committee, an advisory group of private citizens, has made it possible to acquire paintings and sculpture of the twentieth century. Key works of art have also come to the Gallery through the Patrons' Permanent Fund. In addition, members of the Circle of the National Gallery of Art have provided funds for many special programs and projects.

The Vasa Museum (Sweden)

The Vasa Museum is Scandinavia's most visited museum, located in Stockholm, capital of Sweden.

The Museum was inaugurated in 1990. In the large shiphall stands the warship Vasa - the only remaining, intact 17th century ship in the world. The lower rig has been rebuilt, complete with masts, stays and shrouds. Just like the Vasa would have looked like when set for winter in harbour. The wreck, salvaged in 1961, is now once again a complete ship.

Surrounding the ship are several permanent exhibitions, cinemas, a shop and a restaurant.

The Hunterian Museum (Scotland)

The Hunterian Museum was built on the grounds of the University of Glasgow which lay then on Glasgow's High Street. Opened to the public in 1807, it is thus the oldest public museum in Scotland. In 1870 the Museum was transferred, along with the rest of the University, to its present home at Gilmorehill in the western suburbs of the city.

The collections have grown enormously since Hunter's time. At first they were all housed together, but gradually sections were dispersed to appropriate University teaching departments. In 1980 the art collection was transferred to a purpose-built Art Gallery.

The Archaeological museum at Olympia (Greece)

One of the most important archaeological museums in Greece. It hosts in its collection artefacts from the sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, in Olympia, where the ancient Olympic Games were born and hosted.
The new museum was constructed in 1975, and eventually opened in 1982, re-exhibiting its treasures. The architect of the museum was Patrocolos Karadinos.

Museo Del Prado (Spain)

The Prado Museum is a neo-Classical building by the Architect Juan de Villanueva, the construction of which began in the year 1785. It was conceived of as a museum and natural history room forming part of a building complex dedicated to the study of science, as planned under the reign of Charles III and within the scope of the urban reform that took place on the Paseo del Prado (previously named Salon del Prado), which also embellished with various monumental fountains (Cybele, Apollo and Neptune).

It was established in 1819 as the "Royal Museum of Painting and Sculpture" by King Ferdinand VII, with pieces from the royal collections amassed by earlier Spanish Monarchs, his forebears. At the end of the 19th century, the Museum -by then national in scope- received works from another museums, then called the Trinity, that were of a ecclesiastic nature and which had been expropriated under laws governing the depreciation of ecclesiastic assets. From the time of the creation and merger of the two museums many other works of art have been added to the Prado through donations, legacies and acquisitions.

Only a tenth of the museum's artistic holdings are actually on display in its two buildings, the Villanueva building and the Casуn del Buen Retiro. The remainder is held in other places, museums, institutions and Government buildings or in storage at specially conditioned sites within the two museum buildings.

The large museum collections fundamentally include paintings. However, there is a valuable collection of sculptures, drawings, furniture, luxury art, coins and medallions that cannot be permanently displayed due to the lack of space.

The painting collection (12th to 20th century) is displayed as followed: up to the 18th century and Goyas work is in the Villanueva building, and the 19th and 20th centuries' work in the nearby Casуn del Buen Retiro.

The fundamental painting collections belong to the Spanish schools -the best represented- and the Italian and Flemish schools. The French, Dutch and German schools, through numerically less represented, are not unworthy of mention vis-a-vis their quality. Two halls are expressly reserved for sculpture, but sculptural pieces are scattered throughout the different halls in both museum buildings. All decorative art is on display in what is known as the Dauphin's Treasure.

Uffizi Gallery (Italy)

The construction of the Uffizi palace began in 1560, when the Duke Cosimo I dei Medici decided to build a special seat for the offices (hence the name "uffizi") of the thirteen magistracies, that is for the administrative center of the Florentine State. Cosimo I commissioned the project of the building to Giorgio Vasari, painter and architect at the Medici court, who realized one of the most famous architectural masterwork of Florentine Mannerism. Stretching from the Signoria Palace to the river Arno the costruction posed difficult technical problems since the foundations were quite over the river; Vasari had to include into the building the ancient church of San Pier Scheraggio and the ancient Zecca (near the Orcagna Loggias). When in 1574 Vasari and Cosimo I died, the Uffizi were not yet completed: Francesco I, son of Cosimo I, succeeded his father, Bernardo Buontalenti succeeded Vasari in supervision of construction; in 1581 the building was terminated. Some years before at the first floor the offices of the thirteen magistracies had been installed: everyone of these had a beautiful entrance door in the portico at the ground floor. A man of peculiar intelligence, Francesco I (1541-1587) had a profound interest for science, alchemy and art; in 1581 he decided to give a nearly private arrangement to the second floor of the Uffizi. In the west wing he set laboratories where specialized artisans worked jewels and precious stones, perfumes were distilled, new medecines were experimented; in the east wing he placed ancient sculptures of medicean collection: shortly afterwards in this side of the building Buontalenti started to erect the Tribune. Francesco's successors increased more and more the medicean collection with new acquisitions of paintings, sculptures, precious and rare object in general; they were set not only at the Uffizi but also at Pitti Palace or in other medicean palaces. The continuing growth of the granducal collections in 17th century enriched the Uffizi: new rooms of the second floor were arranged to display masterworks as in a museum and in the meanwhile the Gallery could be visited on request by Florentine or foreign persons. For this the Uffizi can be considered the first kind of modern museum of the history. In 1737, with the death of Gian Gastone (born in 1671) the Medici dynasty ended and the family of Lorraine ascended the throne of Tuscany. The last descendant of Medici family, the Palatine Electrix Anna Maria Luisa, sister of Gian Gastone, made an important agreement that secured for ever the city of Florence all the medicean art treasures. It was so eliminated any risk of dispersion of this artistic patrimony unique in the world. The Lorraine family, from Pietro Leopoldo to Leopoldo II, enriched the whole collection, increasing it with important masterpieces: many paintings and several hundred of drawings were bought, many Florentine pictures were transferred to the Uffizi from Tuscan monastries, after suppression of religious orders during the 19th century. In 1860 at the formation of the Kingdom of Italy the Medici-Lorraine collections became public property to all effects and purposes. At the end of the 19th century a new arrangement of the Gallery caused the destruction of the wonderful Medici Theatre, to make way to the first rooms of the east corridor, before the Tribune
. In 1989 the State Archive that occupied the first floor of the Uffizi, has been transferred in the new seat of Piazza Beccaria: the first floor will be indeed arranged to double the Gallery's area, as planned in the Nuovi Uffizi project. The first six rooms of this floor have beeen recently restored; all the other rooms soon will be added to them, to make way to the exhibition of many masterworks now conserved in the warehouses and realize new arrangements for all needs of a museum of such importance.

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