By LL Editorial Staff
When it comes to the great museums of the world Canada may not immediately come to mind, but a visit to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, also known in this French-influenced region as Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, will quickly dispel any myths. Considered the pinnacle of Canadian museums, this institution was founded in 1860 and features an assembly of pavilions that house varied mediums of art including one of the largest collections of decorative and ethnographic objects. You will also discover 19th-century paintings as well as a vast collection of Canadian paintings, prints and drawings. Within city limits, in the heart of Old Montreal, is the avant-garde Hotel XIXe Siecle where rooms are cloaked in crimson red and Louis-Philippe furnishings – a perfect complement to your museum outing.
Los Angeles is better known for its red carpets and celebrity sightings, but high atop a hill overlooking the Sepulveda Pass is the world-famous Getty Center. The modernist complex, clad in cleft-cut Italian travertine and accessible via one of two computer-operated trams, contains a collection of European paintings, drawings, manuscripts, sculpture and decorative arts as well as European and American photographs. Enjoy a twofer with a visit to the nearby Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades, constructed in the early 1970s and modeled after a first-century Roman country house. In addition to the Roman-inspired architecture and gardens, the compound contains Greek, Roman and Etruscan antiquities arranged in themes. You can slumber at the lavish Montage Beverly Hills or stay close to the beach at the historic Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows. The former is a quick jaunt down Sunset Boulevard to the Getty Center and the latter is just a short drive along the coast to the Getty Villa.
Not all natural history museums are created equal. Take the Natural History Museum in London, where some 70 million specimens are found including many that have educated the human race about creation during the last two and a half centuries. You will find the specimen of cacao used in the Cadbury Brothers’ original chocolate recipe, see plants from Captain Cook’s expeditions, view a complete dinosaur skeleton and see rare samples of its skin. A little known fact: More than half of the meteorites that have slammed into the planet are found here as well. After you have scoured every nook and cranny within the museum, head back to your room at one of London’s swank hotels, such as 51 Buckingham Gate, the timeless Claridge’s, or the classic Dorchester.
Located on a 20-acre parcel of land in Chapultepec Park is Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropologia. The building, surrounded by lush landscapes and striking statues, houses some unbelievable collections including pre-Columbian art, Mexican folk art, contemporary folk art, and works from present-day Mexican artists. Some of the more interesting relics include tiled skulls and objects of interest from the Mayan and Aztec cultures. Go from historic to haute at the St. Regis Mexico City, where plush rooms and butler service are a stark contrast to the human-sacrificial altar on display at the museum.
Our civilization truly is defined by its creations, from the written word and painted canvas to relics from centuries past. And many of these treasures are within our grasp, whether it’s a short jaunt or lengthy journey and, given the opportunity, shouldn’t be missed.