Far From the End of the Line: Europe’s Endless Artistic Opportunities

By Flora Stafford and

With only a slice of the academic year left, many of you will undoubtedly have begun planning summer excursions. City-hopping around Europe has developed into a right of passage for post A-Level culture (and party) seekers, but if you haven’t been it’s an incredible, affordable way to spend those long summer days.

Art galleries and museums should be a staple on anyone’s list. Even if you have friends who aren’t interested, sauntering through a cool gallery to escape Europe’s fierce heat is bound to cure last night’s hangover, and they might even find some hidden gems.

Amsterdam

A stunning, magical city, with a wide array of things to do, we recommend two to three full days here.

Van Gogh Museum

Floors upon floors of Van Gogh’s beautiful work from his early pieces to his time in Saint-Remy. It’s worth getting an audio guide here, as it allows you to become absorbed in the journey, generating a coherent picture of his fascinating and tragic life.

Highlight: ‘Bedroom in Arles, 1889’.

Top tip: We queued for three hours in torrential rain, so I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance.

Rijksmuseum

A stunning museum containing wonders of the Dutch Golden Age. Everyone comes to see Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’, understandably. A colossal, intricately detailed masterpiece displaying a mind-blowing command of light and shadow. Tucked away down the hall is Vermeer’s ‘Milkmaid’, showcasing the artist’s stunning use of light with an almost photographic realism, which will undoubtedly leave you wanting more.

Top tip: the museum has its own, be it slightly temperamental, app, so you can listen in for free.

Anne Frank House

Unless you book months in advance for this, you won’t be able to avoid the vast queue, which means that rising early is the only option. Do not under any circumstances let this put you off. The Anne Frank House is one of the most moving museums I have ever been to. Stepping into the exact place where her family went into hiding, you become immersed in her tragic story. Not one to be missed.

Copenhagen

The vibrant multi-coloured Nyhavn is a photographers dream, as is the rest of this captivating city.

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek

If you travelling companions are more into beer than art, the Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, based around the collection of the son of the founder of Carlsberg might be the museum for you. Filled with stunning sculpture from Egypt to Greece and with the one of the most important collections of Rodin sculptures outside France, this museum is not to be missed.

Louisiana Museum of Modern Art 

If you are willing to jump back on the train and head 30 minutes out of Copenhagen, the Louisiana is well worth a visit. One of my favourite galleries ever, the Louisiana is more sculpture park than gallery with fantastic pieces by Henry Moore and Alexander Calder set into its beautiful grounds. It also has a wonderful café stocked with delicious Scandinavian delights, which you can eat whilst enjoying views of Sweden just across the Sound.

Munich

One of my favourite cities in Europe, overflowing with culture and things to see and do, definitely don’t miss the surfers on the River Isa in the middle of the English Gardens.

Alte Pinakothek

 A stunning collection of Old Master paintings including works by Durer and Memling. 

Pinakothek der Moderne

This museum is really five museums in one as it contains a design wing, a jewllry wing, an architecture wing, a modern art wing, and the national collection for works on paper. The design and Jewellery are well worth a visit but it is the modern art wing that is the jewel of the Pinakothek der Moderne. Imagine all of the most famous artists of the last century; Picasso, Braque, Warhol, Keifer, Matisse, Kandinsky, Rauschenberg. Now put them all in one room, this gallery is a must see on any trip through Germany.

Berlin

From the Berlin Wall to Berghain, Germany’s eccentric capital is a hive of culture and fun.

Old National Gallery

Located on Museum Island, the gallery’s collection contains important Neoclassical and Romantic works, and puts on wonderful exhibitions. Students get discounted tickets.

Highlight: Friedrich’s ‘Monk by the Sea’. I studied this for my art A-Level, and every online version seems to be a different colour, yet this is a stunning work in real life! 

Crone Gallery

Off the tourist trail, the Crone Gallery houses modern German and European art and often puts on insightful group exhibitions.

Prague

A gorgeous city not known for its art, but nevertheless full of quirky cultural spots! A Segway or bike tour is a must for views from all angles, and the architecturally mind-blowing castle should be on your list.

National Gallery

Admittedly, we didn’t go. However, the permanent collection houses an array of prestigious works from medieval art in Bohemia to contemporary pieces.

Jewish Museum and Jewish Cemetery

This is one of the oldest Jewish Museums in Europe, containing items that were salvaged from the synagogues that were demolished during the clearance of the Jewish ghetto. The Jewish Cemetery contains thousands of graves crammed together and is a sight to behold.

Vienna

Aesthetically pleasing would be an understatement. Vienna was without a doubt our favourite city for culture. Searching for a bite to eat in the evening we stumbled upon the annual Film Festival in Rathausplatz where there was an array of delicious street food, which we enjoyed during a complementary screening of Swan Lake.

mumok

Pop art and photorealism are the highlights of the mumok’s collection, with works by Warhol, Oldenburg, Picasso and Ono. I personally came for Richter’s photorealistic smudged masterpieces, which certainly did not let me down.

Leopold Museum

A stroll across Museum Square from the mumok, the Leopold Museum houses a huge collection of Austrian art from the secessionist and modernist era. Having heard little about Austrian art before arriving in Vienna, I was struck by the art in this gallery: Klimt and Schiele deservedly take centre stage, with their quirky, haunting figures. 

Albertina

We saw a lovely ‘Warhol to Richter’ exhibition here with some of my favourite works. It’s a lovely building and definitely worth a visit.

Budapest

One of our favourite cities, we were captivated by the beautiful architecture and enjoyed the baths to escape the heat!

Kiscelli Museum

The Kiscelli Museum specialises in Modern Age history and fine art of Budapest. Set in what appears to be an old baroque monastery and church in wooded park in Obuda, the museum contains antique furniture, sculpture and contemporary photos. Temporary exhibitions tend to focus on photography, fashion, architecture and sports.

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