Unexpectedly good exhibitions in places I didn’t expect

I’ve visited hundreds of museum exhibitions over the years, with most conforming to what you’d expect from the location, I.e. naval museums in ports, classical museums in Rome and Istanbul, and great art collections in Paris, London and New York. Sometimes though I come across the unexpected, exhibitions that seem completely out of place to what I was expecting. Here are a few that have stuck in my memory long after visiting…

Pacific Island artefacts in Prague
On the top floor of the Naprstek Museum is one of the best collections of artefacts from the Pacific I’ve seen, with wonderful tribal masks and other wooden objects from many of the islands, with my favourite being from Papua New Guinea.

Their Pacific geography is a little suspect though based on the accuracy of their New Zealand locations on this map by the stairwell.

Islamic art in Copenhagen
The Danish capital isn’t an obvious choice for a great collections of Islamic art, but the The David Collection is a gem, home to wonderfully intricate tiles and woodwork, as well as informative overviews of the countries / empires that created these pieces of art. Unfortunately photography isn’t allowed though.

Japanese samurai in Canada
Despite having visited Japan, the best samurai objects I’ve seen were in two separate museums in Canada. The first at Musee d’Archeologie et d’Histoire de Montreal in Montreal, then more at Quebec City‘s Musée de la Civilisation.

Greek and Roman artefacts in Los Angeles
One of the newest world cities is home to one of the best collections of artefacts from the classical world. The Getty Villa is a quite incredible replica of a Roman villa, in Malibu of all places, with an exceptional collection of objects from thousands of years before Los Angeles was established.

Egyptian artefacts in Budapest
Despite having visited the British Museum and Louvre, a touring exhibition of Egyptian artefacts at the Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest sticks in the mind more. As with the 100 Objects from the British Museum touring exhibitions I’ve seen in Victoria and Canberra, often smaller is better, allowing each item to be well displayed and appreciated. Unfortunately photography must not have been allowed inside.

Japanese prints in Dunedin
Another example of seeing better Japanese objects outside of Japan. In this case was a complete set of Hokusai’s famous 36 views of Mount Fuji, found in the Dunedin Public Art Gallery.

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