Monday, November 5, 2018

Best Museums in the World

As of November 2018, I've visited fifty countries. Below are my favorite museums. 

1. Museum of Islamic Art in Qatar (Doha). Even the building itself is a work of art designed by I.M. Pei. (FYI: the National Museum of Qatar opens on March 28, 2019.)

2. National Palace Museum of Taiwan aka Chinese Taipei (Taipei). The best organized museum of Asian art I've seen so far--quite a feat when one considers the vast amount of artifacts to classify. 

3. Checkpoint Charlie Museum aka Wall Museum in Germany (Berlin). One of the simplest and most unique museums in the world. 

4. Oklahoma City National Memorial Museum in USA. Well-designed exhibitions, including interactive multimedia. Take note of the fact that two Palestinians were wrongfully arrested at the beginning of the investigation into the bombing. 

5. Museum of Anthropology aka Museo Nacional de Antropologia in Mexico (Mexico City). Should be re-named the Museum of Ethnography. A vast treasure trove of artifacts and history. 

6. Museum of Natural History in Austria (Vienna). Hate the city, love the museum. Quite possibly the best natural history museum in the world, suitable for both children and adults. 

7. British Museum (London). Make sure you see the Rosetta Stone. If you like this museum, try the Louvre in Paris. (Note: I liked the British Library, which also has temporary exhibitions, much more than either the Louvre or British Museum.) 

8. House of Terror aka Terror H├íza of Hungary (Budapest). Very heavy-handed but worthwhile. Several startling video clips throughout the museum. Be sure to grab an explanatory leaflet at the entrance of each section. 

9. Aga Khan Museum in Canada (Toronto). A good experience if you're unfamiliar with Middle Eastern art and sculptures. 

10. The Amana Heritage Museum in Iowa, USA (Amana). I loved learning about self-sufficient, religious German pacifists who moved from New York to Iowa to seek better lives. How would locals treat them during the wars? How did they adapt? 

11. Dresden Castle aka Residenzschloss and, to a lesser extent, Zwinger in Dresden, Germany. These two museums are within walking distance of each other. The larger one, which houses one of the most complete currency exhibitions in the world, is Dresden Castle. I saw three items belonging to Martin Luther: 1) a drinking glass converted into a goblet; 2) a book (Hauspostille); and 3) an insignia designed by Luther himself showing a rose, a heart, and a cross. 

Honorable mentions

12. Topkapi Palace Museum in Istanbul, Turkey. It holds items relating to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) plus "the tray used by Abraham; the staff of Moses; the sword of David; the robe of Joseph; the swords of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions; and the shirt, mantle, praying mat, and chest of Muhammad's daughter Fatimah." I was struck by how the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) possessions were ordinary on the outside--mostly one color--but when opened, contained ornate designs. An interesting metaphor, perhaps, for some of Islam's practices and customs.

13. War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. 

14. International Museum of the Baroque in Puebla, Mexico. 

15. Dresden Castle, which is actually several museums in one location. One of the buildings contains items owned by Martin Luther

16. Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur

Bonus I: my favorite waterfalls are 1) Niagara Falls, Canada; (tie) 2) Sipiso-piso in Medan, Sumatra/Sumatera, Indonesia; Madakaripura in Probolinggo, Java, Indonesia; 3) La Fortuna in Alajuela Province, Costa Rica; 4) Casaroro Falls, Valencia/Dumaguete, Philippines; 5) Air Terjun Banyu Anjlok, in Jepara, Indonesia; 6) Air Terjun Sarasah near Padang, Indonesia. (I hope one day to visit Argentina's Iguazu Falls and perhaps Rio Celeste Waterfall, Tenorio Volcano National Park, Alajuela, Costa Rica.) 

Bonus II: my favorite libraries are 1) Bodleian Library (Oxford, England); 2) Biblioteca Palafoxiana (Puebla city, Puebla, Mexico); 3) library@harbourfront aka Bukit Merah Public Library (VivoCity, Singapore); 4) Qatar National Library (Doha, Qatar Foundation, Qatar). 

Honorable mention: Biblioteca Publica Universitaria y Fondo Antiguo (Morelia, Mexico). 

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