One of the best reasons to travel is to learn, and what better way to expand your international perspectives than by visiting an awesome new (or very old) museum! For the museum-weary, we have recommendations that will leave you loving this new-found pastime, as well as classic picks for the museum savvy. Whether you like anime or soccer, or you prefer the Egyptians to the Greeks, these museums are sure to inspire the world travelling learner in us all!
Not Your Average Trip to the Museum
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour – London (The Making of Harry Potter)
Whether you are an avid Harry Potter fan or a simple muggle, this museum dedicated to the magical series is simply amazing! The Warner Bros. Studios are one of the only places in the UK where large scale films can be made, so it’s no wonder that the tour attracts up to 5,000 visitors a day. You can check loads of cool scenes and props used in the Harry Potter film series, including the super purple and super tall triple-decker Knight bus and the one, the only, Great Hall (it’s okay to feel a little bit jealous if your school cafeteria doesn’t quite compare). You can also window shop in Diagon Alley and pay a visit to Hagrid’s Hut and the Ministry of Magic. Last but not least, you can stop and admire the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle, which is considered the highlight of the entire tour by many.
- Ghibli Museum (Mitaka, Japan)
Let’s be honest, if you want to travel to Japan, then you’ve gotta have an interest in Japanese culture. And if you have an interest in Japanese culture, then knowing about Stuio Ghibli, the Japanese animation studio, is an absolute must. To catch you up to speed, iconic films produced by the studio include Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl’s Moving Castle. The museum is dedicated to the art and technique of animation and does so successfully with the features of a children’s museum, a technology museum, and a fine arts museum all rolled up into one ball of Anime awesomeness!
- Santiago Bernabéu Stadium (Madrid, Spain)
Calling all Real Madrid Football Club fans! This stadium of epic proportions can hold more than 81,000 spectators, but what many people don’t realize is that there is a museum inside of the stadium. The Bernabéu Tour is awesome in so many ways, especially if you are a fan of el fútbol. The hour and a half long tour “route” starts out with a panoramic view of the stadium, followed by the “Best Club in History” Room, the Sensations Room, Photomontages, and the Pitch. Next you make your way to the Presidential Box followed by the the Real Madrid Dressing Room, where you can have your photo taken and the players are added to the photo with some mad Madrid Photoshop skills. After you get your footballer pose on, you get to check out the Tunnel, Dugouts and Technical Area, the Press Room, and finally, the Official Store, where you can take home all the swag a Real Madrid fan could ask for.
- Robben Island (Cape Town, South Africa)
Robben Island is basically the Alcatraz of Africa, except way better because former inmates are your guides! Not to worry though! Unlike your typical gangster inmates of the San Francisco prison, the Cape Town prison was established to house anti-apartheid political activists. Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa, was imprisoned there for 18 of the 27 years that he served behind bars as one of the main activists against apartheid before he saw the era come to an end. During the first part of the tour you travel around the island by bus, learning about its establishment as a leper colony and paying a visit to the African penguins hanging out on the coast. The second half of the tour is guided by those who know the prison best. If you are lucky, you might even have a guide who knew Nelson Mandela personally!
- Archeology Museum (Naples, Italy)
All things Roman from Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum can be found in this archeological haven. There are absolutely beautiful marble and bronze sculptures, as well as a truly amazing mosaic collection recovered from the ruins of Pompeii and other Vesuvian cities. The museum also boasts the second largest collection of Egyptian artifacts in Italy, including both Egyptian and “pseudo-Egyptian” artefacts from Pompeii which are key to bridging together these ancient civilizations. Once finished inside of the museum, be sure to check out the awesome underground tour of Naples where you go through historical tunnels and ruins in order to fully immerse yourself in the history of the area.
The Ultimate Museum Goer’s Classics
- The Louvre (Paris, France)
The Louvre is the most visited museum in the entire world. If that is not a testament to what an amazing museum this is, then we really don’t know what is! Located in the very heart of Paris, the juxtaposition of the contemporary glass pyramid with the classically constructed palace in the background will draw you in all on its own. The Louvre exhibits nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory all the way to the present day in its eight curatorial departments, so you’d be hard pressed not to find anything of interest to you. Think Egyptian artifacts, Greek and Roman statues, the Mona Lisa, Royal Jewels, and even Napoleon Bonaparte’s apartment. His fully furnished apartment! Not to mention you will rock back to school looking like an expert in any Art History or Humanities class after experiencing everything that the Louvre has to offer.
- Anne Frank’s house (Amsterdam, Netherlands)
The Anne Frank house always hits close to home, especially since she was only a teenager when she wrote her diary about being a Jew during World War II. While Anne Frank did not survive the war, her wartime diary became published in 1947 and the Anne Frank Foundation was established just ten years later. The museum preserved the hiding place known as the Secret Annex and includes the reconstructed movable bookcase that covered the entrance to this famous hiding place. There is a permanent exhibition on the life and times of Anne Frank, as well as an exhibition space dedicated to all of the different forms of persecution and discrimination. You better book your tickets soon though, as 2015 received a record number of visitors for the sixth consecutive year!
- House of Terror (Budapest, Hungary)
The House of Terror will immediately grab your attention with its modern “TERROR” architectural design element projecting the same word in the form of a shadow on the façade of the building along with the other design elements that have transformed it into a monument in its own right. The permanent exhibition contains material on Hungary’s relationships with Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. There are also exhibits about Hungarian organizations such as the fascist Arrow Cross Party and the communist ÁVH (similar to the Soviet Union KGB). Museum visitors can venture into the basement, where examples of the cells that the ÁVH used to torture prisoners are displayed. While the history of the museum is quite dark, it is a history that is often overlooked by Western culture and certainly not a history to be forgotten.
- Museum Island (Berlin, Germany)
If you ever find yourself in Berlin and are ready to really get your museum on, then you definitely need to make your way to Museum Island! The northern half of an island in the Spree river is home to a complex of five internationally significant museums belonging to the Berlin State Museums. The UNESCO World Heritage site boasts the Pergamon Museum, the Bode Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie, and the Altes Museum. The collections in the different museums vary in historical significance from Islamic and Byzantine Art to Prehistory, Early History, and Egyptian Art, all the way to Romantic, Impressionist, and early Modern styles. In the summer you can find Berliners and visitors alike meeting on the shore of the other side of the Spree for the breath-taking views it offers of the northern tip of Museum Island.
- Mémorial de Caen (Caen, France)
Breathtaking does not even begin to describe the Mémorial de Caen and the surrounding area. The memorial is dedicated to the history of violence and intensive, outstanding conflict in the 20th Century, particularly World War II. Visitors can take a guided (and highly recommended) walking tour of the museum, with focus placed upon the onset of WWII, Nazi propaganda campaigns, France and the Allies’ roles in the War, the Holocaust, as well as an extension focusing on the Cold War and the search for Peace. At the end of the walking tour there is an incredible short film that depicts the major events of D-Day that were filmed during that time. Watching this film is sure to give viewers a better idea and understanding of the intensity and the sacrifices that were made by the American people and their allies on that day. Should you opt for the full-day tour, the second half of the day includes a shuttle tour of Omaha Beach, one of two American sectors out of the five sectors of the Allied invasion of German-occupied France in the Normandy landings, as well as the key areas surrounding it. The final stop on this informative yet emotional tour is to the American Cemetery, where the remains of 9,387 Americans found their final resting spot. This is an absolute must if you ever travel to France and will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.