Metropolitan Museum of Art (US$25 for adults not residing in New York)
Opened in 1870 by a group of Americans who wished to create a “national institution and gallery of art,” the Met is not just a museum, but it’s also an important landmark that has become part of the Big Apple’s spirit. The 190,000-square-meter structure on Fifth Avenue currently houses more than two million paintings, relics, and artifacts, including an extensive collection of African, Asian, Byzantine, Indian, and Islamic art. Spend at least a full day to see their collection, which includes Claude Monet’s Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies, Jacques-Louis David’s The Death of Socrates, and The Temple of Dendur.
Be sure to catch ongoing exhibits such as “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons Art of the In-Between,” “Irving Penn: Centennial,” and “The Memory Palace: Nate DiMeo.” After that, take a page out of many television shows and movies and sit on its famous steps and watch New Yorkers as they walk by.
Opening hours on Sunday to Thursday are 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Prado Museum (US$17 for adults’ general tickets)
Originally intended to house Spain’s Natural History Cabinet, the Madrid museum, designed by architect Juan de Villanueva, opened to the public in 1819. Located on Paseo del Prado, its first catalogue consisted of only 311 artworks, which has now grown into thousands of paintings, prints, drawings, and sculptures. Dubbed as the “museum of painters,” it houses the works of Hiernonymous Bosch, Titian, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya.
Opening hours on Monday to Saturday is 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and on Sunday and holidays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.