Love nothing more than perusing a gallery or two? THIS is the city for you. Some of the best art museums in Munich are housed in buildings that are as beautiful as the contents they’ve curated. Do spend a while taking in the architecture. Though, you’ll want to get around as many of our picks as possible. In one city you can view Egyptian treasures, contemporary thought provokers, ancient weapons and a gallery of beauties commissioned by a king. There is, of course, much, much more on the gallery walls, and the streets. Read on to add a few spots to your Munich itinerary.
This is Germany’s hub for contemporary art. Which all sounds rather functional. But you’re clued in to what Museum Brandhorst may hold as soon as you set eyes on it. Covered with thousands of coloured tiles, the building appears to change as you move past it. Architecture fans may spend more time taking in the angles, glazing and contours, rather than the collections inside. Once you make it through the doors, an ever–changing program of exhibitions keeps things suitably fresh for a contemporary spot. Expect plenty of German art – but there are also pieces on tour from names you might be familiar with. Lawler, Warhol and Alex Katz are big names in the scene that have had their work exhibited under this coveted roof.
Bavarian National Museum
Another beautiful, but very different building of note in Munich. This time we’re admiring the mouldings of the Bavarian National Museum. This impressive building houses some suitably grand and important works. Rather than contemporary pieces, you’ll be looking at celebrated antiquities from eras including the Baroque, Rococo and Gothic collections. The exhibits are pleasingly diverse. Yes, there are the usual classic paintings to peruse, but you can also take in carvings, furniture, instruments, tapestries and weapons – depending on your preference. King Maximilian II founded the museum back in 1855 and you really get a sense that structurally little has changed. They may have popped in a restaurants and some secure display cabinets for treasured items, but here, that’s as modern as things get.
If you’ve ever wondered how history’s wealthy, aristocrat playboys spent their money, one answer can be found in the Nymphenburg Palace. King Ludwig had a wandering eye and felt the need to document the objects of his affection. Which lead to him commissioning 36 portraits of beautiful women he’d encountered during his life. Today, the southern pavilion of the palace contains the portraits so we can all drop by to see if King Ludwig had a type. Swooning and extravagance aside, the portraits are a joy to view, especially in such a spectacular setting. Add in the stories behind each picture and you’ve got a particularly intriguing part of Germany’s history depicted in art.
Your Munich art consumption needn’t always be about musing high brow collections in grand buildings. For something a little more playful, you’ll want Art:ig. It’s an unassuming little shop, tucked away on Corneliusstraße. Here, you might stumble upon a print of Superman flying across a botanical sketch. And, though you’ll find creative types having fun with images, there are also conceptual pieces by local artists to balance out some of the more familiar pop culture images. On the website, or in store, you can create your own Art:ig piece. Just the kind of spot where you could discover a new artist to follow, skip home with a souvenir or fill your suitcase with fun prints.
No tour of Munich breweries is complete without a stop here. Though, you may be wondering where the Oktoberfest Museum fits on an art lover’s agenda. It turns out, the beer fest has a surprising wealth of art associated with it. From posters to paintings there’s enough here to appease perhaps a couple who have differing interests. Not a fan of beer? The art will keep you culturally amused. Beer lovers will appreciate the museum the most, of course, but do drop in if you’re curious. At the very least, the €4 entry fee will give you an insight into just why the festival is so engrained in Munich’s history and culture.
State Museum of Egyptian Art
It could be argued that the best place to view Egyptian art would be in Egypt itself. Except, many, many countries have looted tombs and crypts and wandered off with any unattended items to stock their museum shelves. Which does make it a lot easier for us to get our eyes on hieroglyphics and mummies when we feel the need. In Munich, that spot is the State Museum of Egyptian Art. And, as collections go, it really is something. You might not find anything in huge numbers – but what they lack in numbers, they make up for in quality. Underground, but far from dingy, the lighting and design never distracts from the ancient Pharaoh statues or sphinx figures.
Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art
How do you like your art? If the best art museums in Munich are slightly weighted towards the fine arts, this could be a nice palette cleanser. As the title of Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art suggests, this is THE spot in Munich to scamper among thoroughly modern installations and collections. A central museum that doesn’t necessarily see big numbers flowing through the doors. Not for a lack of decent art, but simply because it’s not always an easy find. It’s Germany’s first urban art museum, so do drop in to see how they are bringing street art to a curated museum space. It’s also a handy spot to get your street art fix if Munich’s weather isn’t on point. Yes, Museum Brandhorst is perhaps the more formal space – but art doesn’t always have to be serious.
Orbzii tip: Perhaps a tip for architecture fans. On a busy Munich weekend, you could find yourself at the Westfriedhof Station. An underground station with a difference. Mood lighting drenches the platform in various colours from the suitably stylish lamps above. Not perhaps a spot to track down – but interesting should you find yourself there.