The oldest museums in the world are collections of some of the world’s oldest museums that are still active. These cultural centers offer exploration opportunities, including exhibits on prehistoric animals and papal art collections. Let’s explore these beautiful museums.
Museums have long been supporters of cultural, religious, and historic preservation. They highlight and record human accomplishments and aid in sharing the tales of our victories (as well as a pretty extensive list of failures). In more recent times, they’ve also developed into the perfect locations to snap amazing Instagram pictures and eat pricey cakes.
Read on to find out about some of the oldest museums in the world, whether you want to enrich your cultural knowledge or soak up the oldest of the old on your upcoming trip.
Top 10 Oldest Museums in the World
- Capitoline Museums, Rome
- Vatican City Museums
- Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
- Louvre Museum, Paris
- Amerbach Cabinet, Switzerland
- Royal Armouries, Tower of London
- Belvedere Palace, Vienna
- Indian Museum, Kolkata
- Anton Ulrich Museum, Germany
- Charleston Museum, United States
Oldest Museums in the World
1. Capitoline Museums, Rome
The Capitoline Museums is the oldest museum in the world. It was established in 1471 in Rome, outside Vatican City’s walls. Pope Sixtus IV then donated his extensive collection of prehistoric bronze pieces, which he and his predecessors had amassed over many decades. The museums, however, were not open to the public until 1734.
The Capitoline Museums are now owned and managed by the city of Rome, and they, like modern museums, regularly exhibit specific artifacts or works of art. Going back, Pope Sixtus IV was responsible for making the museum a reality. He found time to curate a collection of bronze sculptures and dedicate it to the good people of Rome when he wasn’t working on the Sistine Chapel, building the Vatican Archives, or getting family members comfortable government roles.
2. Vatican City Museums
Vatican City Museums are considered the oldest museum in the world and trace their origins to 1505 when Pope Julius II opened a collection of sculptural displays to the public.
The pope entrusted his sizable collection of sculptures to be preserved and shown within the city, establishing the first of the extensive network of museums within Vatican City.
It was in 1506 AD, and today, these museums house the world’s largest collection of art spanning the Middle Ages to the present day, with much of it vital to the Roman Catholic faith. At its busiest, the Sistine Chapel draws over 25,000 visitors every day, many of whom pass up some of the holy city’s most fascinating cultural attractions in favor of the understandable urge to look up at the ceiling.
This collection contains the Colossal Head of Constantine and the Capitoline She-Wolf, a rendering of Rome’s founders Romulus and Remus nursing on a mother wolf that would later become the city’s symbol. Both of these antiquated objects are still on display in the museum.
3. Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg
There are many museums in St. Petersburg, Russia, including two of the ten oldest museums in the world. The Hermitage Museum is known for housing the world’s most significant collection of artifacts relevant to art and culture. Founded in 1852 and now houses over 3 million items from many cultures around the globe.
Everything is available, from the most recent works of graphic art to archaeological objects. Every year on December 7, the museum celebrates its opening with a donation of artifacts from St. Catherine. Even unknown locations throughout Russia may be as stunning as the galleries in this city’s museum.
4. Louvre Museum, Paris
The Louvre Museum in Paris is not only the most well-known museum in the world, but it also receives the most visitors. The city’s famed glass pyramid is frequently the subject of photo stops by tourists.
However, the popularity of this museum extends beyond its exterior. The Great Sphinx of Tanis, which dates back to the Egyptian Old Kingdom, and the Mona Lisa, a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, are just two examples of the greatest works of art in history that can be found at the Louvre. It’s unlikely that you will discover any phony artwork at the Louvre, similar to that discovered at this other French museum.
5. Amerbach Cabinet, Switzerland
Amerbach Cabinet is known as a historic building that houses some of the amazing chapters of history. In 1661, the Kunstmuseum Basel acquired the Amerbach Cabinet, which is now known as one of Switzerland’s heritage sites. The extensive collections of drawings and paintings on display here are regularly expanded by the city of Basel, which also owns the museum.
When the city bought the museum, it became the world’s first museum owned by a municipality rather than a royal family, an individual, or an organization. One of the oldest museums in the world, the Amerbach Cabinet houses a significant number of works by Hans Holbein.
6. Royal Armouries, Tower of London
The Tower of London once housed a large museum that was not only the oldest museum in the United Kingdom but also one of the oldest museums in the world. The Crown Jewels may or may not have been on display when this museum first opened to the public in 1660, but it was still a popular destination for visitors.
This museum has since been divided into three separate museums, one in the Victorian Fort at Portsmouth, one in Leeds, and one in West Yorkshire. Whether combined at the Tower of London or separated, this museum houses the world’s largest and oldest collection of armories.
7. Belvedere Palace, Vienna
The Habsburg Royal Family used to live at the Belvedere Palace. It was established as a public museum in 1781 and is known for housing the most extensive collection of Gustav Klint’s works. The building, or series of buildings, is one of the most beautiful in the world, renowned for its exterior architecture and the valuable exhibits housed within its walls.
The collections, which are primarily Austrian, stretch back to the Middle Ages and include some displays from contemporary artists.
8. The Indian Museum, Kolkata
Kolkata’s Indian Museum is one of the oldest museums in the world and the oldest in India. The Bengal Asiatic Society eventually built its museum on land donated by the government for that purpose many years before.
This museum, which is situated on Chowringhee-Park Street in Kolkata, India, is devoted to presenting artwork and artifacts significant to the Indian populace, such as mummies and skeletons, antiquities, and even armor that has been worn by locals throughout the ages.
9. Anton Ulrich Museum, Germany
Anton Ulrich Museum is the oldest museum in Germany and is a subject of intense contention. The Stadel Museum in Frankfurt, the Altes Museum in Berlin, and the Deutsches Museum in Munich have all received this distinction.
They are all charlatans, as far as we can tell. The Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum is Germany’s first museum. It is a library of cultural treasures that dates to 1754 and was made possible by royal wealth, in this case, that of Charles I, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.
10. Charleston Museum, United States
Charleston Museum is the oldest museum in the United States. Located in South Carolina, it is an eclectic collection of historical treasures, founded in 1773 after commencing in earnest during the American Revolution. In addition to providing a history of the American south, it also conveys a national narrative.
You’ll have a hard time finding many more thorough summaries of American history at this one of the oldest museums in the world, from the remnants of extinct megafauna that prowled the country throughout the Cenozoic Era to artifacts of Native American history and tales of slavery.
A 40-foot-long shark and a sloth the size of two men are two of the gallery’s standout exhibits. There’s a good chance they never engaged in a titanic sea and land combat (but carbon dating can only tell you so much). Additionally, there are mounted skeletons of Pelagornis, the largest species of flying bird currently known to science, whose wingspans were more than twice as large as those of the Great Albatross.
These are our list of the ten oldest museums in the world. Let us know what you think about these centers of historical significance. You can write your opinions on social media.