5 Best Private Museums Around the World, Worthy of a Visit

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For art buffs, museums are the ultimate high in any travel itinerary. With art being as expensive as it is, not everyone can own a piece, but they can definitely appreciate the finest pieces around the world at museums and art galleries. Did you know that there are private museums too that you can visit?

Of late, a lot of art has been acquired by private collectors and it has not gone down well with art lovers who feel this puts the art beyond everyone’s reach. So, several private art collectors are not fanatically private about their collections. For one, they earn huge tax benefits from hosting private museums and also, being art lovers themselves, they want to share it with others who feel the same way about art. So, most of them display their collections or a part of them for anything between a few day, to a few months or throughout the year to the public. From Russia to America, here’s a list of 5 Best Private Museums, around the world that are a must visit.

1. Neon Muzeum, Poland
A neon sign at the Neon Muzeum
Image courtsey: Neon Muzeum’s Facebook Page

A modernist museum that houses, you guessed it, neon signs that become defunct, it is an interesting way to peep into the history of commercialisation. An initiative by Ilona Karwinska, a London based photographer, and David S. Hill, graphic designer, they set it up to form a sanctuary for doomed neon signs. During their period of boom, neon signs were a sure sign of success and became a cultural symbol of a modern, open society. Apart from the obvious function of advertising products and services, they became landmarks in their own right. With over 200 neon signs, 500 letterforms, documents, blueprints and pictures for these neons, it forms an incomparable experience for someone interested in design, typography and its history. In about half an hour, you can get a feel of post war Poland. Surely among the best private museums, as Neon Muzeum has been recommended by Lonely Planet as a ‘Top Choice’.

Fee: 8 – 10 złoty
Neon Muzeum: ul. Mińska 25, Soho Factory, Building 55, Praga, Warsaw, Poland. P:  (+48) 665 71 16 35

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2. Steve’s Weird House & Museum, Online Virtual Tour

A very oddly satisfying victorian house, it is possible to tour Steve’s Weird House & Museum online with a 360 degree virtual tour. It is weird, no doubt, as it is covered with art in all its entirety, ceilings included. Given the over-the-top decor, it is strange but at the same time, it is a museum as it houses unique artefacts that you probably won’t come across elsewhere. The VR panoramas show siamese twin animals, two faced animals, wreaths woven from human hair, many statues, paintings, antique furniture, exotic taxidermy, funeral paraphernalia, hundreds and thousands of rare and unusual books, a toaster museum, futuristic gadgets and furniture, and many things that defy labelling.

Fee: Free virtual tour
Steve’s Weird House & Museum: Private residence, Seattle, Washington, 98104, United States. Email: weirdhouse@hotmail.com

3. The Broad, Los Angles
The Broad, a private museum in Los Angles
Image courtsey: The Broad’s Website

A contemporary art museum founded by Eli and Edythe Broad who are a philanthropic power couple in Los Angles, The Broad boasts of 2000-plus artworks. Located in the $140 million, 120,000 square foot building designed by Diller Scofidio and Renfr, and Gensler, it is one of few museums to offer free admission. It also rotates temporary exhibits and loans them to other museums that keeps audiences enthralled. Since opening in September 2015, it has had more than 1.2 million visitors.

Fee: Free with online advance booking but it is advisable to book early
The Broad: The Broad, 221 S. Grand Ave., Downtown Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA. P: 213-232-6200

4. The Waterfront Granary, India

Among the first of private museums, The Waterfront Granary is also a hotel in Kochi, India. The granary dates back to 1877 and is replete with many century old manuscripts, artwork, photographs, sculptures and furniture. The ancient Mattancherry Bazar forms the backdrop for this serene property next to the Cochin waterfront. The Ebrahim brothers shifted to Cochin from Gujarat in the early 1800s and brought with them rich family history memorabilia that now forms a part of this museum hotel.

Fee: Free with a Room at the Hotel
The Waterfront Granary: 6/641, Bazaar Road | Mattancherry, Kochi (Cochin) 682002, India. P: +91 484 2211 777

5. Private Museum Music and Time, Russia

Above images courtesy: Private Museum Music and Time’s website

As the name suggests, musical instruments and time keeping machines like antique watches and clocks are aplenty here at the Private Museum Music and Time. It was set up by the popular illusion artist and magician, John Mostoslavsky, the collection was started in early 1900s and now spans three buildings. With a stunning 1,000 bells and 10,000 records, the museum encourages engagement by doing away with glass guarded displays. Rather, you can revel in the vibrant music that the guides create out of these bells and other instruments. The museum also carries TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence, putting it right there alongside the best private museums world-wide.

Fee: 60 – 160Rbl
Private Museum Music and Time: Volzhskaya Emb., 33a, Yaroslavl 150000, Russia. P: +7 485 232-86-37

So visit these and be entertained!

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