15 interesting and underrated European museums – Boston Herald


Scott Hartbeck | TravelPulse (TNS)

For every world-famous European museum like the Louvre or Prado, there’s one that flies under the radar. The following collection is made up of both quirky and unusual museums and those that are home to world-class collections but just aren’t as well known as they should be.

Bottle Peter’s Museum, Denmark

Denmark’s Aero Island is known primarily for its windswept beaches and collection of colorful, cute-as-a-button cottages, but this quirky museum dedicated to one man’s passion for ships in bottles also pulls in the crowds. Bottle Peter — as he came to be known — was an accomplished sailor and managed to build more than 1,700 bottle ships in his lifetime, and they’re now on display here for all to enjoy.

Fondation Louis Vuitton, France

A beautiful space dedicated to contemporary art and culture designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry, Fondation Louis Vuitton in Paris is a pure work of art itself. You’ll be amazed at the futuristic glass architecture outside, the wide range of events and exhibitions inside, and the fact that you’ll have much more elbow room here compared to the city’s other ever-popular A-list museums.

The Hearse Museum, Spain

A funeral hearse in Barcelona’s Museum of Funeral Carriages — the Museu de Carrosses Funebres. (Dreamstime/TNS)

A Barcelona museum dedicated to the art of sending someone off in style, this collection of funeral vehicles features over a dozen funeral carriages, six processional carriages and three motor vehicles used in historical funerals. The purpose of the museum is to shine a light on the symbolism of funeral rites and how customs evolved over the 19th and 20th centuries. And if that’s not enough for you, the Hearse Museum is the only one of its kind in Europe.

Museum of Art Fakes, Austria

Oh, would you look at that Rembrandt, and that Matisse over there? And those pages of Adolf Hitler’s diary. Nope, they’re all fake and that’s precisely the whole point of this museum in Vienna. Learn about the fine points of planting a fraud and all the different types of forgery floating around. Rest assured, you’ll genuinely have a great time.

Borghese Gallery and Museum, Italy

Located in the former villa of Cardinal Scipione Borghese, a renowned patron of the arts in Rome, The Borghese Gallery and Museum is home to a treasure trove of works from names like Caravaggio and Bernini. The latter’s sculptures take pride of place in the museums, many displayed in the precise spaces they were designed to originally occupy.

Museum of the Thirties, France

The reputation of the Roaring 20s has spread far and wide, while the 1930s has a tendency to get overlooked. Not at this boutique museum in Paris as the 1930s get their due with exhibits and displays of the art and popular culture of the decade. Expect to see everything from Art Deco to displays that detail the lifestyle and changing values that defined the era.

The Vasa Museum, Sweden

A reconstructed vessel at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. (Alexander Tolstykh/Dreamstime/TNS)
A reconstructed vessel at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden. (Alexander Tolstykh/Dreamstime/TNS)

Swedish warship Vasa sank on its maiden voyage in 1628 and sat on the seafloor for centuries before being raised — almost entirely intact — in the 1960s. Now, you can admire this impressive time capsule in all its glory at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, where visitors are able to dive head first into the fascinating history of the ship, its ill-fated crew and those who raised her from the deep.

Museum of Miniatures, Czech Republic

You might need a magnifying glass to view some of the works in this museum full of micro-miniatures in Prague, but that fact doesn’t make them any less impactful. A sampling of some of the tiny items on display include a grasshopper playing a violin, a flea fitted with horseshoes and a procession of camels that sit inside the eye of a needle.

Museum of Money, France

Have you ever thought much of the backstory behind the bills and coins in your pocket? If not, you’re in for a fascinating time at this museum in Paris. The Museum of Money educates visitors on the history behind the arts of currency and minting and the incredible skill that goes into making coins. You won’t look at money the same way again.

Dutch Resistance Museum, The Netherlands

You have to book well in advance if you want to visit the Anne Frank House (which you should because it’s a moving and informative experience), but the Dutch Resistance Museum still flies under the radar of most visitors to Amsterdam. Located in the city’s Plantage neighborhood, it tells the story of the ordeal the Dutch dealt with during World War II.

The Museum of Broken Relationships, Croatia

A poster child for the quirky modern European museum, this collection in Zagreb features rooms of artifacts left over from—or that came to symbolize—relationships that went south. Visit to read the stories behind the objects and contemplate your own relationships that ended on a bittersweet note.

Brera Art Gallery, Italy

Trace the rich history of artistic expression at this sensational gallery in Milan, where you can take in a vast collection spanning from pre-history to the 20th century. Italian artists are well represented, with works from Bellini, Raphael and Caravaggio among the many highlights of the gallery.

The Museum of Hunting and Nature, France

Sometimes, it’s all in the name and this Paris museum does exactly what it says on the label. Diving into the complicated relationship between man and the animal kingdom through the lens of hunting, the Museum of Hunting and Nature offers visitors a thought-provoking experience full of artwork, exhibits and yes, plenty of taxidermy.

Dalí Theatre-Museum, Spain

Located in a former theater in Salvador Dalí’s hometown of Figueres, this museum pays tribute to the surrealist artist and offers all who visit a mind-bending, interactive experience. The museum boasts a large collection of Dalí’s works, but the real highlight is getting the chance to feel like you’ve stepped into the artist’s mind, a feeling that grows from room to room. The remarkable atmosphere is no doubt the result of the fact that Dalí had a hand in designing the space.

Gallerie dell’Accademia, Italy

Home to a vast collection of Venetian art (think Titian, Tintoretto Veronese, and Bellini), this museum gets overlooked by many visitors to Venice, but in reality, the Gallerie dell’Accademia might offer up one of the best insights into the history of the floating city. There are more than 800 works on display at the museum, and a visit will leave you with an even greater appreciation for the art of the Floating City.

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