Must-Visit Museums and Art Galleries in Munich
There are an incredible 80+ museums in Munich, showcasing the importance of culture and history to the residents, and it can be hard to choose which to visit. If you only visit one, make it the Deutsches Museum, which is the most famous museum in Munich, and also the world’s largest museum of science and technology. But there are numerous must-visit art galleries and castle museums, too. Some Munich museums offer €1 admission on Sundays, so be sure to check the websites!
Museumsinsel 1, 80538 München, Germany
With more than 100,000 items in its collection, the Deutsches Museum is one of the most important science and technology museums in the world. Even though only around a quarter of the collection is on display at any one time, the breadth is nonetheless mind-boggling, ranging from the Stone Age to the present and touching on everything from cellular biology to atomic physics. Indeed, the holdings are so massive—and still growing—that they’re divided between several venues, including a hangar at Schleißheim airfield and the Deutsches Museum in Bonn. Specific highlights in Munich include the first motorized aircraft built by the Wright brothers, the first motorcar made by Karl Benz, and a U1 submarine. Also worth checking out are interactive displays that detail glass-blowing and paper-making, and the live demonstrations and experiments that take place each day. A dedicated children’s area with hundreds of activities caters to younger visitors, but, kids or not, plan to spend at least half a day here—and be pleasant overwhelmed.
Schloß Nymphenburg 1, 80638 München, Germany
Built in the 17th century, Nymphenburg Palace is one of the largest royal castles in Europe. Planned as a summer residence for the Bavarian monarchy, it was expanded over time and now features additional pavilions and gallery wings, plus a French Baroque façade by Joseph Effner. The palace exterior and expansive, English-style gardens—complete with lakes, geysers, and waterfalls—are the real highlights here, but the interior, with its Baroque, Neoclassical, and Rococo era rooms, is also worth seeing. Be sure to check out the Steinerner Saal (Stone Hall) with its striking ceiling frescoes, the Schönheitengalerie (Gallery of Beauties) with works by court painter Joseph Karl Stieler, and the palace chapel of St. Magdalena. There are also a few interesting museums on site, including ones dedicated to royal coaches, porcelain, and natural history.
Barer Str. 40, 80333 München, Germany
Spanning a massive 129,166 square feet, the Pinakothek der Moderne is really four different museums: the Sammlung Moderne Kunst, the Design Museum, the State Graphic Collection, and the Architekturmuseum. As such, it’s one of Europe’s biggest institutions for modern and contemporary art, design, and architecture, offering a sweeping overview of 20th- and 21st-century culture, from avant-garde sculpture to digital installations. Notable for its 82-foot glass dome, the building is bright and airy, with plenty of room for walking around and experiencing all that’s on display. Tour the permanent collections on the upper floors, then head down to the ground floor to see the graphic, architectural, and temporary exhibitions.
Ludwigstraße 16, 80539 München, Germany
Founded in 1558, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek is a historic, expansive, and important universal library. With almost nine million volumes and countless reading rooms, this is the perfect place to become lost in a text, work remotely, or explore with the family. Since 1663 they have collected copies of almost every Bavarian printed text—making it a wonderful place to learn about the regional culture and heritage. It’s also a lively cultural space that hosts regular exhibits and events. Come here either to marvel at the architecture, history, and texts or to get lost in a book. If you’re just passing by, be sure to check out the famous stone statues adorning the flight of stairs known as “the four magi.” See if you can guess which scholastic founders they represent!
Luisenstraße 33, 80333 München, Germany
Lenbachhaus is Munich‘s premier art gallery. It reopened in May 2013 after a four-year renovation of the original building (a late-19th-century Florentine-style villa for painter Franz von Lenbach), plus the addition of a modern wing designed by Norman Foster. The exterior of the new wing features striking, golden tubes. For Norman Foster fans, the museum’s new exterior is iconic—a beautiful play on color, pattern, and geometry. Try to see it at sunset, when the tubes are seemingly more golden, rich, and alluring. The Lenbachhaus redesign marries the old with the new, especially in the triple-height, sky-lit lobby atrium. Immediately upon stepping into the museum, your attention is drawn to what appears to be an enormous hanging icicle, which is in fact a specially commissioned work by Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson called Wirbelwerk. The new wing serves as a “jewel box” for the museum’s best-known works, the “Blue Rider” collection of 20th-century Expressionist art. There is also a new garden and a restaurant with an outdoor terrace. With the addition of new galleries and a bold redesign, Lenbachhaus further cements its reputation as one of Bavaria’s leading cultural centers.