Regardless of how many prints you see or how deeply you study each inch of a painting, there's nothing like seeing it in real life. Whether it's a relatively unknown statue that you took a liking to in school or one of the most famous works of art on the planet, these pieces were meant to be studied and discussed by generations to come. With art museums and galleries established in many European and North American cities, there's no shortage of culture and art to take in.
Sometimes, however, you're presented with the opportunity to see one of the most famous paintings in history. Art buffs and cultural fanatics, break out the passport and purchase travel insurance, then head into the world to see these four works of art.
1. 'The Mona Lisa': Paris, France
Housed in one of the world's most renowned art museums, The Louvre, Leonardo da Vinci's painting has always been a great mystery. It was created between 1503 and 1506 in Florence using oil paint on wood. The greatest mystery of "The Mona Lisa" centres on who's depicted. Many people believe it's Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco Giocondo - in part because it's also titled "La Gioconda." Other suggestions regarding the painting's subject, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, include da Vinci's mother or da Vinci himself, disguised as a woman.
The Louvre sits along the Seine River and is immediately recognizable by its glass pyramid entrance. Visitors may be surprised by how small the painting actually is, especially because it's isolated behind a glass case. The additional security was installed during the early 20th century after the painting was stolen from the museum in 1911. There's almost always a crowd surrounding "The Mona Lisa," so be prepared to wait patiently to catch a glimpse.
2. 'The Starry Night': New York, New York
New York City is home to the Museum of Modern Art, or MoMA, where the dazzling painting "Starry Night" is on display. Not far from Central Park, the museum holds more art than you can take in during one visit. There's a group of historical museums surrounding the park, including the American Museum of Natural History, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
This magnificent painting by Vincent van Gogh was completed in 1889, just one year before van Gogh's death. The Dutch artist painted "The Starry Night" with oil on canvas in Saint Rémy, a community in France where he spent time in an asylum. Vincent van Gogh outwardly struggled with mental illness and, according to Bio, he agreed to hospitalization after cutting his own ear off. In 1890, van Gogh died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at age 37. His brother's wife, Johanna, gathered his paintings after his death and helped Vincent van Gogh become one of the most respected Dutch artists in history.
3. 'Guernica': Madrid, Spain
You can find Pablo Picasso's famous work in the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, which opened in 1990. Perhaps Picasso's most well-known piece, "Guernica" depicts the Spanish town after it was bombed by Nazis. Done entirely in black, white and blue, the painting represents how innocent civilians become casualties of war. According to PabloPicasso.org, the painting was unveiled at the Paris Exhibition in 1937, but people weren't particularly attracted to it.
The Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía was created in the former San Carlos Hospital building, although the medical centre closed in 1965. The museum's website explained how the building's historic and artistic value helped it become a national monument in 1977. Temporary art exhibits were limited to the first floor in the beginning, but by 2001, the museum had added another building to showcase all of its collections.
4. 'The Last Supper': Milan, Italy
Another one of Leonardo da Vinci's masterpieces, "The Last Supper" is displayed on a wall in the Refectory at the Monastery Santa Maria delle Grazie. The church is located in downtown Milan, not far from Castello Sfirzesci and the Arco della Pace. Because of the artwork's delicate nature, there's a strict limit on how many people can view it each day. You often need to buy tickets months in advance and each group only has 15 minutes to spend in the Refectory.
"The Last Supper" depicts Jesus and his 12 disciples right after he announced that one of those present would betray him. Leonardo da Vinci painted "The Last Supper" at the end of the 15th century, but used a unique method that couldn't stand the test of time. Instead of going with the fresco method - paint on fresh plaster - da Vinci used tempera on a base, directly on the wall. The paint began peeling in da Vinci's lifetime and deterioration was in full effect by the mid-16th century. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, a complete restoration was completed in 1999, leaving very little of the original paint.