From Monets to missiles, these U.S. museums top the list

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art was a favorite among TripAdvisor travelers. It was deemed the top museum in America and in the world.

(Stan Honda / AFP/Getty Images)

If great museums are on your radar, these 10 museums would be a good place to start. TripAdvisor travelers weighed in and selected the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as the top museum in the U.S. and in the world.

The Getty Center in Brentwood and the aircraft carrier Midway in San Diego made the cut among the top 10 museums. The list includes well-established, historic museums as well as some that have been around less than five years.

Here are those picked as best in America in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers' Choice Awards.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

(Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

This is the grande dame of American museums. It was founded in 1870 and houses tens of thousands of objects from ancient Egypt and medieval Europe as well as ancient Greece and Rome.

Here you mix and match centuries: See the Temple of Dendur from early Egypt, Vermeer's "Young Woman With a Water Pitcher," Van Gogh's "Wheatfield With Cypresses" and a paper dress based on Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans.

It's a breathtaking collection that can't be seen in a single day (there are nine recommended itineraries, including one for families with kids). The Met drew a record 6.2 million visitors last year. Suggested admission is $25 for adults and $12 for students; children 12 and younger get in free.

2. Art Institute of Chicago

"American Gothic" by Grant Wood. (Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times)

Once again, you'd be hard pressed to take in the almost 300,000 items in this museum founded in 1879. "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte" by Georges Seurat, "American Gothic" and "Black Cross" by Georgia O'Keeffe are among the Impressionist and American artworks that live here.

The Art Institute took the top spot last year in the same TripAdvisor rankings. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $19 for students; children 14 and younger get in free.

3. The National WWII Museum, New Orleans

A display of positions of Allied attack boats and planes on D-Day in 1944 in the museum's Air and Sea Armada exhibit. (National World War II Museum)

This museum is a relative newcomer, starting life as the National D-Day Museum, which opened on June 6, 2000. Three years later it was given the designation as America's National WWII Museum.

The museum tells the history of American fighters in World War II through interactive displays, posters, weapons, medals and stories by veterans. Tickets cost $24 for adults and $15 for children.

4. The Getty Center, Los Angeles

Chinese tourists visit earlier this year. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

The Getty, along with its sister the Getty Museum in Pacific Palisades, receives more than a million visitors a year. One of the Center's most beloved paintings has to be Van Gogh's "Irises," and the gardens and outdoor sculptures also get high marks from visitors.

It's all part of oil man J. Paul Getty's vision for an art legacy that began in 1953. Museum admission is free; parking is $15.

5. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.

(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

Two Smithsonian museums -- this one and the National Gallery of Art -- appealed to TripAdvisor travelers. Air and Space is the largest museum in the Smithsonian family and houses vessels including Saturn V rockets, early gliders and the Space Shuttle Discovery.

"Fully one-third of the museum's aircraft and spacecraft are one-of-a-kind or associated with a major milestone," its website says. Admission is free.

6. National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

"Little Girl in a Blue Armchair" by Mary Cassatt. (National Gallery of Art)

This museum on the National Mall started by financier Andrew Mellon holds more than 130,000 paintings, sculpture and other art objects. Its galleries are organized by geographical style -- American, Italian, British, Flemish, Dutch, German, etc. -- with an impressive collection of French Impressionist art.

The museum has an east and a west building as well as a sculpture garden that opened in 1999. Admission is free.

(Richard Derk / Los Angeles Times)

7. Frick Collection, New York City

(Galen Lee / The Frick Collection)

The museum accents Old Master paintings as well as European paintings and decorative items. As the one-time New York City residence of industrialist Henry Frick, the museum offers an intimate art-going experience.

Tickets cost $20 for adults and $10 for students. Children younger than 10 years old aren't allowed in the museum.

8. Chihuly Garden and Glass, Seattle

A glass ball at the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum reflects the neighboring Space Needle tower. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

Dale Chihuly's remarkable glass sculptures are displayed across the country, from Las Vegas casinos (most notably the ceiling of the Ballagio) to Florida (the Morean Arts Center in St. Petersburg).

The Garden and Glass, which opened next door to the Space Needle in 2012, is described as a long-term exhibition. The eight galleries showcase some of the Tacoma glass sculptor's most famous works; the 40-foot-tall Glasshouse features a red and yellow installation in the ceiling.

Tickets are $22 for adults and $13 for children.

Sculptures at the museum. (Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

9. USS Midway, San Diego

The F8 Crusader on the flight deck of the Midway. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

The former Navy aircraft carrier opened in 2004 in downtown San Diego. Visitors tour the sleeping quarters, engine room, galley and other parts of the ship and can try their hand at flight simulators too.

The ship also has an on-board theater that tells the story of the World War II Battle of Midway. Tickets cost $20 for adults and $15 for students 13 to 17 years old, $10 for children aged 6 to 12 years old.

10. American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Actress Uma Thurman reads stories under the museum's big dinosaur. (Brad Barket/Getty Images for Kuato Studios)

If you've seen the films or read the "Night at the Museum" trilogy, you'll recognize the creatures that come to life at this popular New York City museum on the edge of Central Park.

It too has been around since the 19th century, and most recently reopened the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial which underscores the former president's love of nature and conservation. It's got dinosaur halls and dioramas with mammals, birds and reptiles as part of its scientific mission.

"Whether you are into the dinosaurs or space, prehistoric civilizations or Native American tribes, forest mammals or creatures of the sea, this place has it all," one comment from TripAdvisor says.

The top 10 museums in the world are:

1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

2. Musee d'Orsay, Paris

3. Art Institute of Chicago

4. Prado Museum, Madrid

5. Louvre Museum, Paris

(It's the world's most-visited museum with more than 9 million people in 2014.)

6. State Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace, St. Petersburg, Russia

7. National Gallery, London

8. The Rijksmuseum (National Museum), Amsterdam

9. Vasa Museum, Stockholm, Sweden

10. National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City


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