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Modern! Pop! Contemporary! Our Guide To Every Single Type Of Art Museum - Antsy Labs

Modern! Pop! Contemporary! Our Guide To Every Single Type Of Art Museum

When you’re starting out as an artist and learning how to draw, one of the main pieces of advice you’ll get is to go to an art museum. 


At an art museum, they say, you’ll find inspiration! You can immerse yourself in the greats! You can sketch for hours in the great halls as you lose yourself in the process!


After all, in addition to drawing regularly and sharing your art, the path to becoming a better artist includes stopping by the occasional art museum!

DOODLE OR DOODLE NOT - THERE IS NO TRY.


Even the best artists need a creative push once in a while. Now you can crush your creative block with the Drawing Pack, a set of artistic achievements for you to unlock as you kick your creativity into high gear. Grab your pencil or pen of choice and get set to doodle, draw, sketch and scribble your way to new creative heights.


Draw me like one of your French IRLAs.



It all sounds fantastic and wonderful and creative, yet there’s just one problem:


What kind of art museum should you go to? Any old run-of-the-mill world class art museum like the Louvre? A good idea, if you can swing the round-trip ticket to Paris.


What would be more helpful, though, is knowing where you can find that inspiration around the corner. That’s why the trick is to know where the art is as well as what kinds of art museums have what you’re looking for. 


To help you embark on your creative journey, we’re outlining the major types of art museums, from Contemporary to Wax (yes, wax museums are art!) below. 

15 Types of Art Museums To Inspire Your Drawing

Children's museums

These museums are designed specifically for children and may have art-related exhibits and activities to introduce children to the world of art and to provide them with creative experiences. 


These displays may include a range of different types of art, such as paintings, sculptures, or other media, and may be designed to be interactive and engaging for kids. If you’re accompanying your own children there, grab your sketchbook and get some doodles in as they play.


Here are two of our favorite examples:

  • The Children's Museum of Indianapolis: Located in Indianapolis, Indiana, the Children's Museum of Indianapolis is a museum that is designed specifically for children and has a range of interactive exhibits and activities, including American Pop and Fireworks of Glass.
  • The Children's Museum of the Arts: Located in New York, New York, the Children's Museum of the Arts offers public installations and exhibitions by artists-in-residence that inspire and challenge.

Contemporary art museums

Contemporary art museums focus on art from the present day or recent past, rather than art from historical periods. This makes them a helpful resource if you’re interested in exploring the art of the present day. 


Here are two great spots for you to get your sketch on:


  • The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA): Located in Los Angeles, California, MOCA is a museum that is dedicated to contemporary art. The museum has a collection of more than 7,000 works by artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, and Cindy Sherman.
  • The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) Boston: Located in Boston, Massachusetts, the ICA is a museum that is focused on contemporary art and culture. The museum has a collection of more than 8,000 works by artists such as Cindy Sherman, Ai Weiwei, and Marina Abramovic.

General art museums

These are the art museums most of us have heard of, like the Louvre or MoMA. They have a broad focus and a collection that spans a wide range of time periods and cultures. 


These museums may have exhibitions of art from different time periods and regions, as well as educational programs and events related to art. They may also have a focus on the preservation and study of art, and may have research facilities and resources for scholars and students.


If you’re looking for a guaranteed good place to start your drawing tours, check out the two below:

  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Located in New York, New York, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has more than 2 million works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and other media.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Art Institute of Chicago has a collection of more than 300,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and other media.



Historical societies

Historical societies may have art displays as part of their exhibits and programming, as art can be a valuable way to illustrate and interpret the history and culture of the region. 


What’s especially delightful about stopping by a historical society is just how deep a dive you can take on a single subject. 


Here are two ideas to get you started:

  • The New York Historical Society: Located in New York, New York, the New-York Historical Society is a museum and library that is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of New York City and the surrounding region. The museum has a collection of more than 1.6 million objects, including paintings, sculptures, and other works of art.
  • The California Historical Society: Located in San Francisco, California, the California Historical Society has a collection of more than 100,000 objects, including paintings, photographs, and other works of art related to the history of the Golden State.

Military museums

Though military museums are primarily focused on military history, they often include paintings, sculptures, and other works that depict military events or honor military personnel. 


What adds another layer of interest to this art is that it may be by professional artists or by soldiers and veterans. 


To mix military history with your sketching practice, consider one of these two museums:

  • The National Museum of the United States Air Force: Located in Dayton, Ohio, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is a museum that is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the U.S. Air Force. 
  • The National World War II Museum: Located in New Orleans, Louisiana, the National World War II Museum features interactive exhibits like the Road to Berlin and Bayou to Battlefield.

Modern art museum

Modern art museums focus on art from the modern period, which is generally defined as lasting from the late 19th to the mid-20th century. This includes a wide range of styles and movements, such as Impressionism, Expressionism, and Surrealism.


One frequently asked question is the difference between modern art museums and contemporary art museums, so let’s take a second to clear that up. 


Contemporary art museums focus on art from the present day or recent past, meaning they will have more current than the art in a modern art museum.


Here are two examples of modern art museums in the United States:

  • The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA): Yes, we’re featuring the MoMa again. The museum has a collection of more than 150,000 works by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and Jackson Pollock.
  • The Art Institute of Chicago: Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Art Institute of Chicago is a museum that has a collection of modern and contemporary art, as well as art from other time periods. The museum has a collection of more than 300,000 works by artists such as Claude Monet, Edward Hopper, and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Nature and environmental museums

Aside from art museums, the other common refrain for artists looking for inspiration is just to go outside. With a nature museum, you get the best of both with species dedicated to exploring the natural world, such as works that depict plants, animals, or landscapes.


Here are two interesting places to get you started:

  • The American Museum of Natural History: Located in New York, New York, the American Museum of Natural History is dedicated to natural history and science. 
  • The California Academy of Sciences: Located in San Francisco, California, the California Academy of Sciences is dedicated to natural history, science, and sustainability. 

Portrait gallery

If you’re feeling a little shy about sketching people in public, you can head to a portrait gallery to practice working with some slightly more famous faces. 


As a rule of thumb, portrait galleries may focus on portraits of specific individuals, such as historical figures or famous people, or they may have a more general focus on portraiture in general.


Here are two examples of portrait galleries you can stop by:

  • The National Portrait Gallery: Located in Washington, D.C., the National Portrait Gallery is part of the Smithsonian Institution and has a collection of more than 23,000 portraits of notable Americans, including presidents, artists, and activists.
  • The Portrait Gallery at the Yale University Art Gallery: Located in New Haven, Connecticut, this portrait gallery is part of the Yale University Art Gallery and has a collection of more than 1,000 portraits of notable figures from American history and culture. The collection includes paintings, prints, and photographs by artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Rembrandt Peale, and Annie Leibovitz.

Private art museum

Private art museums are museums that are owned and operated by private organizations or individuals, rather than by the government or a public institution. These museums may be for-profit or non-profit, and may have a wide range of focuses or collections.


Here are two examples of private art museums in the United States:


  • The Broad: Located in Los Angeles, California, the Broad is a contemporary art museum that is owned by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad. The museum has a collection of more than 2,000 works by artists such as Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, and Yayoi Kusama.
  • The Menil Collection: Located in Houston, Texas, the Menil Collection is a museum of modern and contemporary art that is owned by the Menil Foundation. The museum has a collection of more than 17,000 works by artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, and Cy Twombly.

Regional art museums

Regional art museums are museums that focus on art from a specific region or time period, rather than having a broad focus on art from a range of regions and time periods. They’re captivating spots to take a deep dive on a specific subject.


Here are two examples of regional art museums:


  • The Georgia O'Keeffe Museum: Located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum celebrates the work of the artist Georgia O'Keeffe and other artists who have worked in the Southwest region of the United States. 
  • The Terra Foundation for American Art: Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Terra Foundation for American Art focuses on American art from the colonial period to the present with a collection of more than 1,000 works of art by artists such as Edward Hopper, Grant Wood, and Georgia O'Keeffe.

Science museums

Science museums are museums that are dedicated to the exploration and understanding of science and technology. With that comes intricate, three-dimensional displays that can spark more technical drawings or futuristic ideas.


Here are two examples of science museums in the United States that may have displays big enough to inspire some creative drawings:

  • The California Science Center: Located in Los Angeles, California, the California Science Center has permanent, larger-than-life displays like Mission 26: The Big Endeavour that feature the iconic space shuttle.
  • The Museum of Science and Industry: Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Museum of Science and Industry is dedicated to science and technology, and often has new exhibitions like the Art of the Brick and Worlds Beyond Earth.

Sculpture garden

Looking to focus on your depth, shading, and perspective? Sounds like you’ll need to work with some three-dimensional objects! One ideal spot for that kind of drawing practice is a sculpture garden, an outdoor space dedicated to sculptures and other works of art. 


Here are a few examples of sculpture gardens in the United States:

  • Storm King Art Center: Located in New York, this 500-acre sculpture park features more than 100 sculptures by artists such as Alexander Calder, David Smith, and Henry Moore.
  • The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: Located in Kansas City, Missouri, this museum has a sculpture garden that features works by artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, and Auguste Rodin.

University art museums

Do you live in a college town? Then the best art museum near you might be on campus! 


Here are two examples of university art museums:

  • The Yale University Art Gallery: Located in New Haven, Connecticut, the Yale University Art Gallery has a collection of more than 200,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and other media.
  • The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive: Located in Berkeley, California, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive has a collection of more than 19,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and other media.

Virtual art museums

Stuck at home, but want to level up your sketching? A virtual art museum might do the trick!


In recent years, some art museums have created online versions of their physical museums, allowing visitors to view exhibits and collections online. 


These virtual art museums allow users to view and explore art from a wide range of time periods and cultures, and may have educational resources and interactive features to enhance the user experience. 


Here are two you can try:

  • The Google Arts & Culture platform: This online platform is a partnership between Google and a number of museums, galleries, and cultural institutions around the world. It allows users to view and explore a wide range of art and cultural artifacts, including paintings, sculptures, and other works of art.
  • The Virtual Museum of Canada: This online platform is a partnership between the Canadian Museum of History and a number of other museums and cultural institutions in Canada. It allows users to view and explore a wide range of art and cultural artifacts from Canada, including paintings, sculptures, and other works of art.

Wax museums

Is Madame Tussauds… art? We think so!


Wax museums, also known as waxworks, are exhibitions that feature life-sized wax figures of famous people, often historical figures or celebrities. These figures may be dressed in period costume and are often accompanied by displays that provide information about the person depicted.


But are wax museums … art? For one, they often have a strong educational component, similar to art museums. They may provide visitors with information about the historical context of the figures on display, as well as their contributions to society.


The creation of wax figures is an artistic process that involves sculpting, painting, and costuming. Some people may argue that the figures themselves are works of art. What’s more, wax museums often have a strong visual component, with attention to detail and historical accuracy.


Still, they may not have the same level of curatorial or scholarly focus as art museums. They may be more geared towards entertainment, rather than education or research. 


If you’re looking to sketch Johnny Depp or Meryl Streep, though, there may be no better place to go. Beyond Madame Tussaud’s, here are two other wax museums you can enjoy:


  • The Hollywood Wax Museum: Located in Hollywood, California, the Hollywood Wax Museum is a wax museum that features life-size wax figures of celebrities and other notable people from the entertainment industry.
  • The National Wax Museum Plus: Located in Dublin, Ireland, the National Wax Museum Plus is a wax museum that features life-size wax figures of historical figures, celebrities, and other notable people.

DOODLE OR DOODLE NOT - THERE IS NO TRY.


Even the best artists need a creative push once in a while. Now you can crush your creative block with the Drawing Pack, a set of artistic achievements for you to unlock as you kick your creativity into high gear. Grab your pencil or pen of choice and get set to doodle, draw, sketch and scribble your way to new creative heights.


Draw me like one of your French IRLAs.



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