The world's best museums

Posted by Michael Pullman 17th May 2024
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Museums…they can sometimes have a reputation for being dusty unexciting places, an image often forged in our early years by forced visits on school trips. But that couldn’t be further from the truth - As well as going a long way to helping you understand the history and culture of a region, they can be a godsend on a rainy day, many of them do excellent coffee and food, and don’t even get us started on the joys of a museum shop…

For World Museum Day we asked the Wild Frontiers team for their favourite museums.

National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore, La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz is home to one of the best cultural anthropology museums in South America. In a classic early 18 century house, the museum houses a stunning collection of black and white historic photographs, masks, textiles, musical instruments, ceramics, metal works and more, which will help you to understand Bolivia’s rich and often surreal culture. The Inca royal outfits alone are worth the visit. A wonderful stop on a walking tour of La Paz. 

Richard, Bolivia expert

The Indian Museum, Kolkata, India

My favourite museum is the Indian Museum in Kolkata, India. It’s got the most wondrous and rare collections and exhibits, all beautifully curated. Inaugurated in 1814, it’s the oldest museum in India and one of the oldest in the world. You’ll find everything from antiques to armours, fossils to pottery and Mughal paintings to mummies. I have been many times and still try and fit in a visit every time I’m in Kolkata.  

Shalmali, India expert

The Lahore Museum, Pakistan

The Lahore ‘Wonder House’ Museum was built during British Indian times in 1863, and is the largest museum in Pakistan. It contains Buddhist sculptures, contemporary and Mughal paintings, and artefacts from the Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu cultures that have existed in this region for centuries. Rudyard Kipling’s father was curator of the museum when the author was a child, and the museum curator character in Kipling's Kim is likely to be modelled on his father. 

Jonny, Founder

Cup Noodles Museum, Osaka, Japan

This unusual museum highlights the evolution of the noodle industry in a fun hands-on way. You can create your own instant noodles from scratch, as well as design your own cup. 

Jim, Japan expert

The Royal Tombs of Sipan Museum, Trujillo

Unfortunately many of the ancient tombs of Peru were looted and their treasures lost, but in 1987 a tomb was found in Sipan, Peru which was untouched and instantly became one of the continent’s most important archaeological discoveries. The Lord of Sipan was probably a Moche King, who was mummified and buried with headdresses, a facemask, a gold pectoral, necklaces and ornaments, all displaying unbelievable craftsmanship and decorated with jewels and gold. This museum is a fitting tribute to the genius of the pre-Incas. 

Marc, Product

Savitsky Art Museum, Nukus, Uzbekistan

This museum houses probably the greatest collection of Soviet avant garde art in the world. As well as highlighting some of the amazing works being created by Central Asian artists in the 60s and 70s, it contains many early 20th century cubist, constructionist and futurist artworks which were banned by Stalin and happily rescued from the Soviet Union by curator Igor Savitsky.   

Rachel, Product 

The National Museum of Beirut, Lebanon

Lebanon is home to some of the oldest civilisatins on earth, including the seafaring Phoenicians whose history looms large in the towns of Byblos and Sidon, and this museum is a must-visit before venturing to Byblos, Baalbeck and Lebanon’s many historic sites. Discover well-preserved mosaics, beautifully crafted miniature gold sculptures, and a host of Pheonician, Roman and Persian treasures, including a staggering 2,400-year-old bull’s head built for a Phoenician temple. There is a wonderful video explaining how the museum’s curator saved the most treasured artefacts by encasing them in concrete during the Lebanese civil war. Don’t miss the 31 sarcophagi in the lower ground floor room. 

Mike, Marketing

Ogyen Choling Heritage House, Bumthang, Bhutan

This traditional Bhutanese manor house is a place to stay as well as a museum. Enjoy the tranquil garden, meditate in the ancient temple and enjoy the hospitality of the hosts. The small but fascinating museum offers a great insight into Bhutanese culture. 

Sejal, Bhutan expert

Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, Darjeeling, India

This unusual museum houses artefacts from mountaineering expeditions. The museum is set inside the institute on top of a hillock with panoramic views of the nearby mountains and hills and far away from the crowd or traffic. Set up by the Tenzing and with its foundation stone laid by first Prime Minister of India, the collection includes the vest, hats and oxygen cylinders of Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary on their first ascent of Everest. The institute is stunningly located amongst forest and overlooking the mountains.  

Niraj, Sales

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