Where’s the World’s Best Private Museum? Some of the world’s finest collections can be found at private museums. Where would you say is the world’s best?
1/6 Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome, Italy The Galleria Doria Pamphilj in Rome began in 1647, when Cardinal Camillo Pamphilj abdicated the throne to marry heiress Olimpia Aldobrandini, whose collection of fine art and palazzo on the via del Corso he proceeded to expand. Today visitors will find lush gardens and a grand space holding masterpieces by Titian, Caravaggio and Raphael.
Photography courtesy Doria Pamphilj Art Gallery
2/6 Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, Birmingham, Alabama The spacious and utilitarian Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of motorcycles—nearly 1,300, including street bikes, dirt bikes and rarities, along with vintage and restored vehicles and racing machines from around the world. Founder George Barber may call his museum a “parking garage,” but the complex also has a 2.38-mile, 17-turn track, and it hosts sports-car rallies, a grand prix and the Porsche Driving School.
Photography courtesy Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
3/6 Beyeler Foundation, Basel, Switzerland The late Ernst Beyeler was known for his keen eye for modern masters, his friendships with artists such as Picasso, Dubuffet and Rothko, and a personal collection of 20th-century modern art that he amassed with his wife Hildy. His collection, housed in a gallery designed by Renzo Piano, includes more than 200 paintings, African, Oceanic and Alaskan sculpture, and works by Picasso, Bacon, Kandinsky, and sculptors Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly.
Photography Serge Hasenböhler
4/6 Prasart Museum, Bangkok, Thailand Real estate magnate Prasart Vongsakul created this serene open-air museum of traditional Southeast Asian and Chinese architecture in a secluded oasis on the outskirts of Bangkok. You’ll need to make an appointment and hire a driver; once there, take a guided tour, then explore tropical foliage, fountains, statuary and artefacts from prehistory to the present. You may even meet the “head gardener,” Mr. Prasart himself. 66 2/379-3601
Photography courtesy Prasart Museum
5/6 Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, Germany Founded in 1989 by Rolf Fehlbaum, CEO of the Vitra design company, the Vitra Design Museum was Frank Gehry’s first European commission. Thanks to a partnership with the design company, the museum draws on Vitra’s extensive collection of furniture, lighting and other objects from the early 19th century to today. Throughout the year, exhibitions highlight various themes or contemporary modern designers.
Photography Thomas Dix
6/6 Rubell Family Collection, Miami, United States A 4,180-square-foot former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse in Miami has since 1993 housed one of the world’s largest private contemporary art collections by the Rubell Family. Owners Mera and Don Rubell started collecting in the 1960s, and now have more than 5,000 works by the likes of Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Damien Hirst. The Rubells, who helped start Art Basel Miami, like to champion emerging artists and eclect
Photography courtesy Rubell Family Collection
Some of the most fascinating museums in the world were, at their very start, private collections of artwork, relics, natural ephemera or elaborate playthings put on display by their curious and wealthy owners. Hence the private museum was born. Today more and more collectors are putting their treasures on view in grand, spacious and eclectic spaces. Here are some must-see privately owned museums.
You Tell Us
What private museum would you say is the world’s best—and why?
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Issue 2 2014