The Biggest Museum in the World

Every day around the world, millions of people visit museums. From the largest museums in the world to one-room spaces, each offers wonderfully immersive experiences as they teach us about the history of the world.

Building Big Engineering
7 June 2022

From world famous art, natural history dating back millions of years, and the wonders of air and space, to the barbed wire museum in Kansas, the dog collar museum in Kent and the pencil museum in Cumbria, it’s fair to say there’s a museum for everyone.

Often ranking among the most popular attractions, like the world’s largest libraries or the biggest statues, some of these museums are truly colossal. Yet where is the world’s biggest museum? Read on to find out more about the largest museum in the world.

Smithsonian Institution

The National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC, part of the Smithsonian Institution and among the most visited museums in the world. (Photo: SeanPavonePhoto via iStock)

Washington DC, USA

Though it isn’t a single museum, the world’s largest museum complex is actually the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC. There are nineteen museums and galleries containing almost 140 million pieces, telling the story of the history of America. Some of the most famous items in the vast collection include the Apollo 11 command module that took Niel Armstromng to the moon in 1969, and Dorothy’s ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz movie!

Musée des Blindés

Parked tanks waiting to be restored in the courtyard of The Musée des Blindés, a tank museum located in the Loire Valley of France and one of the world's largest tank museums. (Photo: Olivier DJIANN via iStock)

Loire Valley, France | Armoured vehicles: Approx. 900

While the British Tank Museum has a greater number of actual tanks, one contender among the largest museums – and the biggest tank museum in the world – is the Musée des Blindés in France. It opened in 1977 and is home to the largest collection of armoured military vehicles in the world including the only known German Tiger II tank in working order.

Victoria & Albert Museum

England, London, gardens outside Victoria and Albert Museum (Photo: Andrew Holt via Getty Images)

London, UK | Gallery space: Approx. 30,700m2

The V&A opened in 1852 and is located in one of London’s most beautiful buildings. Among a host of incredible exhibits, it houses the largest collection of Italian Renaissance art outside of Italy. One of the largest museums in the world, it is the world’s biggest museum for applied arts, decorative arts and for design. It has a permanent collection of almost 2.3 million pieces spanning five thousand years of history.

Vatican Museums

The Vatican at night time (Photo: Job Thomas Moolan via Getty Images)

Vatican City | Gallery space: Approx. 43,000m2

The world-famous Musei Vaticani was founded by Pope Julius II in 1506. It is not only a contender for biggest museum in the world, it is also one of the world’s oldest continually operating museums. The staggering collection assembled by the Catholic Church is home to some of the most famous and priceless works of art in existence, including the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel painted by Michelangelo, Raphael’s ‘Transfiguration’, the Belvedere Torso by Apollonios, and Caravaggio’s ‘The Entombment of Christ.’

Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, one of the biggest museums in the world (Photo: OlegAlbinsky via Getty Images)

New York, USA | Gallery space: Approx. 58,800m2

‘The Met’ is America’s biggest museum and one of the most popular and largest museums in the world, with over seven million annual visitors. The two million artefacts include Islamic, African, European and Egyptian antiquities, one of the world’s greatest collections of musical instruments, and a collection of drawings by artists such as Michelangelo, da Vinci and Rembrandt.

National Museum of China

China National Museum facade by Tiananmen square, Beijing, China (Photo: Germán Vogel via Getty Images)

Beijing, China | Gallery space: Approx. 65,000m2

On the eastern side of Tiananmen Square in Beijing is the National Museum of China. It was founded as recently as 2003 as the result of a merger between the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the National Museum of Chinese Chinese History. This huge museum covers two million years of Chinese history, including Neolithic jade carvings and some of the rarest Shang, Song and Ming dynasty pieces in existence. In 2020 it was the second most visited art museum in the world behind the Louvre.

State Hermitage Museum

The grand State Hermitage Museum (Photo: Jon Arnold via Getty Images)

St Petersburg, Russia | Gallery space: Approx. 67,000m2

One of the world’s most beautiful Baroque buildings was opened to the public in 1852. It is one of the biggest museums in the world, with a staggering three million pieces in its collection including prehistoric art, classical and Egyptian antiquities, Italian Renaissance art, jewellery, and Abraham Melnikov’s famous 19-ton Kolyvan Vase.

The Louvre

Museum Patrons observing the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, one of the world's biggest museums (Photo: B.S.P.I. via Getty Images)

Paris, France | Gallery space: Approx. 72,800m2

The largest art museum in the world was once a medieval fortress and home to the monarchs of France. Today it is the world’s most visited museum. Only around 35,000 of the 616,000 items in its collection are on display, and the most famous exhibit is undoubtedly Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, probably the best-known painting in the world.


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