The world’s largest museum is the Smithsonian in Washington D.C, with nearly 138 million artefacts relating to American and world history, culture, nature, science and technology. Comprising nineteen museums, nine research centres and the National Zoological Park, the Smithsonian Institution was established from the legacy of the British scientist James Smithson (1765-1829) who never stepped foot on American soil. In 2014, there were over twenty eight million visits to the museums and National Zoo, which are open seven days a week. There is free admission to the museums (apart from the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum where tickets cost sixteen dollars) and ten of the sites span an area of approximately one mile. The Smithsonian Information Centre is centrally located at 1000 Jefferson Drive, SW and may help you plan your visit more effectively. Top attractions include Dorothy’s ruby red slippers from the Wizard of Oz, the original Star-Spangled Banner and the Apollo 11 command module.
The collections held by the Louvre Museum in Paris are amongst the most important in the world with thirty five thousand works of art on display in three hundred rooms. They include French painting and sculpture, works from the high Italian Renaissance and ancient oriental, Egyptian and classical art. This busy museum which was established in 1792, is located on the Right Bank of the Seine in the 1st arrondissement. As part of the renovations carried out during the late 1980s, an underground lobby and glass pyramid over a new entrance were added to the palace buildings. It is open every day except Tuesday and admission costs fifteen euros. In 2014, the Louvre received more than 9.26 million visitors. Highlights of the museum include Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Mona Lisa’ and the classical sculptures, the ‘Venus de Milo’ and the ‘Winged Victory of Samothrace’.
The British Museum in London is Britain’s largest museum and holds more than eight million artefacts, largely based on the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. Founded in 1753, it was the first national, public museum in the world and attracts nearly six million visitors each year. The Rosetta Stone which was a valuable key in the decipherment of Egyptian hieroglyphics is on display at the museum. Visitors also come to see the sculptures from the Parthenon, the Assyrian monumental sculptures and an extensive collection of Egyptian antiquities. One of the most spectacular archaeological discoveries in Britain, the Anglo-Saxon ship burial at Sutton Hoo, is also on display here. The British Museum offers free admission and is open daily. It is located on Great Russell Street in the Bloomsbury area of London.