Travel the world through your chosen artistic lens
By Jennifer Mitchell
Art has the power to connect people from different cultures, countries and eras, often outliving the artist and traveling to places the artists may never have the opportunity to venture. Art offers a shared experience that is able to transcend all barriers, uniting people with its beauty. If visual art in its many forms inspires you, why not let it inspire your travels? After all, exploring the earth without art is just “eh”.
By creating a travel quest (a lifelong journey that intertwines travel, challenges and personal development) centered around art, you’re not only connected to the most moving art in the world, but you’re connected to strangers around the world who are moved by it too. If you’re ready to let an artistic movement move you around the world, here are our 5 favorite travel quests inspired by visual art.
Musée du Louvre, Paris | photo: Kara Walsh
1. Roam the halls of the world’s most famous museums
Whether museums bring to mind reverent strolls or chaotic class field trips, they provide incredible exposure to a variety of art forms, movements and artists in a short window of time. If you’re inspired by the visual arts but relatively new to international travel, we’d recommend making a list of the 25 most famous museums in the world and working your way through that list over time. We’d recommend anchoring your plan with The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, State Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, British Museum and National Gallery in London, the Vatican Museums in Rome, the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Smithsonian in the U.S., and the National Museum of China in Beijing.
If you’re looking for another spin on museum-related travel quests, check out these lists of the world’s top rated and most visited museums from National Geographic and Condé Nast Traveler, respectively. Then grab your museum map and start exploring.
Andy Warhol Museum | photo: Dean Kaufman
2. Design your travel quest around your specific artistic passion
If you have already visited many of the world’s largest museums or you’re more inspired by particular genres, movements or artists, we’d recommend crafting your travel quest accordingly. This may take you to museums dedicated to a specific artist like the Van Gogh Museum in Netherlands, the Picasso Museum in Paris, or the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. Your plan may include major art museums that are known for their outstanding collection of pieces from a particular movement like the Art Institute of Chicago, which touts a large collection of impressionist art. Or you may design your travels to reach the best in a format or genre such as the top photography museums and galleries in the world. You can then round out your list of museums to visit with general art museums that may feature a piece or two that relates to your quest.
Graffiti workshop tour in Valparaiso, Chile | photo: artist and patient tour guide Chris Roche, Valpo Street Art Tours
3. Take it outside with a street art travel quest
These days, art is no longer confined to the walls of a museum—it’s happening everywhere people are moved to create. Unbelievable guerrilla and street art can be found all over the world. Common forms of street art include spray paint graffiti, stencil graffiti, wheatpasted poster art, sticker art, street installations, chalk art and sculpture. If you enjoy this edgy art form, consider a quest to visit the best cities for street art either on your own or with a tour.
If you’re really invested in the street art scene, consider choosing an influential street artist like Banksy or Shepard Fairey or one of these rising stars and travel to the spots of their latest creations. But you better move quickly before a rival artists paints over the piece.
Of course, if you plan a quest to see the greatest street art in the world, you’ll have to give it a try yourself with a graffiti workshop. Not only will you have a blast, but you’ll probably walk away with an even greater appreciation for the art you’re traveling to see.
Period room at Winterthur Museum, DE | photo: www.winterthur.org
4. Focus on beauty meets function with a decorative arts travel quest
If you’ve got an eye for interior design and a preference for functional art, a travel quest designed around your favorite type of decorative art might be for you. You’ll indulge your aesthetic passion while gaining insights into its evolution during different points in history. Perhaps your quest will focus on seeking out a specific medium like stained-glass windows or a particular style of furniture. Or you may want to explore the decorative art of a producer like Tiffany Studios or Charles & Ray Eames. You could also choose a specific era like art deco or the arts and crafts movement and explore how the designs traveled through time and space in museum collections and period rooms. As you fulfill your decorative arts travel quest, you may be inspired to infuse your home décor with an investment in your interest, or be content to live vicariously through your travel memories and photos enjoyed from the comfort of your IKEA furniture.
Chihuly Garden and Glass | photo: Kara Walsh
5. Get enlightened with a glass or light art travel quest
Though relatively new, glass art and light art have become more popular in the past few decades. While you can see these bright and colorful pieces in museums like Chihuly Garden and Glass at Seattle Center, the Dan Flavin Art Institute in Bridgehampton, NY or The Centre for International Light Art in Germany, this specific art form can also be found out in the wild (or at least in gardens, hotel lobbies and in the skies of major cities), which makes it a particularly fun quest. Create a quest to see all of Dale Chihuly’s glass art collections or make plans to attend some of the best international light festivals, which will take you all over the world for some amazing celebrations.
Not only has the art form become more mainstream in the last several years but creating art has become a popular social and corporate event activity. Digital graffiti and interactive projection mapping have become conference and event staples, and glassblowing studios are popping up everywhere, allowing small groups to create and take home glass pieces. If you’re considering a color and light travel quest, trying your hand at digital graffiti or glassblowing is a must!
Light art by Dan Flavin at Dia: Beacon | photo: Kara Walsh
Employ expert guidance to get the most out of your travel quest
Regardless of which type of visual art you’re planning to see, you may want to consider hiring a knowledgeable guide to show you around and expand your knowledge on the subject. Whether you’re touring the Louvre or taking it to the streets, The New York Times has some tips on how to find and hire a quality private tour guide.
Once you’ve set your travel goals, don’t forget to create your map with No Small Plan, and show it off on a t-shirt or tote bag. For more travel quest ideas, check out our posts for architecture buffs, foodies and sports fans. And connect with us on social media to let us know what inspires you to travel.
Jennifer Mitchell is a blogger, comedian, freelance copywriter and travel enthusiast.
Map and share your travel quest on a personalized No Small Plan t-shirt