Museums come in all shapes and sizes, with vastly different collections.
These very special buildings are home to the most precious artworks humans have ever created and are an infinite source of inspiration for those who visit and enjoy them.
We have rounded up the 20 largest museums, by area covered, in the world.
1. Louvre Museum
The largest art museum in the world and one of Paris' most famous tourist attractions, the Louvre covers an area of 782,910 square feet (72,735 square meters) and is home to around 38,000 art pieces dating from prehistory to the 21st century.
It is well known for being the home of Leonardo Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, one of the most valuable paintings in museums today.
2. State Hermitage Museum
The State Hermitage Museum is St Petersburg most popular visitor attraction and the second largest art museum in the world. Housed within five interconnected buildings covering an area of 719,480 square feet, the museum has over 3 million items in its collection dating from the Stone Age to the present.
The Winter Palace (1754–62) houses the heart of the Hermitage collection including the Hermitage's masterpieces of western European Art since the Middle Ages. The Hermitage also has large holdings of Asian art that includes its noteworthy collection of the art of Central Asia.
3. National Museum of China
The third largest museum in the world and the supreme palace of history and art in China, the National Museum of China (NMC) is located along the famous Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The site covers an area of 700,000 square feet that houses more than 1.4 million items of collection covering ancient and modern artefacts, rare and antiquarian books, and works of art.
4. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City's Fifth Avenue is the largest art museum in the U.S and the fourth largest museum in the world, occupying an area of 633,100 square feet.
The Met's art collection includes more than two million pieces spanning 5,000 years of art from around the world. The main pieces preserved in this museum are those of classical antiquity together with artworks from ancient Egypt.
The museum came into existence in 1870 with the intention of promoting art as part of the school curriculum. According to the Trustees, "The Metropolitan Museum of Art collects, studies, conserves, and presents significant works of art across all times and cultures in order to connect people to creativity, knowledge, and ideas."
5. Vatican Museums
The Vatican Museum, which calls itself "the museum of museums," is the 5th largest museum in the world with 460,000 square feet of gallery space (43,000m2). Established in 1506, it is the most famous museum in Italy.
The museum says it "houses an extensive collection of art, archaeology and ethno-anthropology gathered by the popes over the centuries and also some of the Apostolic Palace's most significant rooms."
It has a total of 54 galleries, including the famous Sistine Chapel built in the 15th century and the place where Cardinals elect a new pope. The ceiling that show scenes from the Bible is the most spectacular part of the room and it was created by Michelangelo in 1508.
6. Tokyo National Museum
The Tokyo National Museum has a gallery space of 410,000 square feet (38,000m2) and about 120,000 objects in its collection.
It houses the largest collection of Japanese art in the world and it also collects and displays an important collection of artworks from other Asian countries.
According to the museum "there are 89 national treasures and 648 important cultural properties (as of March, 2021) amongst them." Located in the Ueno Park, to explore the Tokyo National Museum is to discover Japan.
7. Museo Nacional de Antropología
National Museum of Anthropology is the largest museum in Mexico with a gallery space of 360,000 square feet (33,000m2).
The museum was built as a tribute to the pre-Columbian cultures of Mexico and it houses over 600,000 collection pieces that include the world's largest collection of ancient Mexican art and also has ethnographic exhibits about Mexico's present-day indigenous groups. Noteworthy are the Aztec Calendar, the recreation of Pakal's tomb, or Jade mask of the Zapotec Bat God.
8. Victoria and Albert Museum
The "V&A's buildings occupy 12 acres of land in South Kensington and are over a third of a mile in circumference," according to the museum's website.
It has a gallery area of 330,000 square feet (30,658m2) with a permanent collection of over 2.3 million objects that span over 5,000 years of human creativity. The most popular collections include Asian and Islamic art.
9. National Museum of Korea
Located in Yongsan, in the heart of Seoul, the six-story building of the National Museum of Korea is ranked as one of the top largest museums in the world.
It has a gallery area of 291,600 square feet (27,090 m2) which houses over 200,000 collections displaying the best collection of history and culture of Korea from medieval times to the present day.
10. Art Institute of Chicago
Founded in 1879, it is one of the oldest museums in the U.S.
It measures 280,000 square feet in area and it houses a permanent collection of nearly 300,000 works of art that span centuries and the whole world, ranging from Chinese bronzes to contemporary design and from textiles to installation art.
11. Nanjing Museum
Located in the capital of Jiangsu Province at the southern foot of Purple Mountain, Nanjing museum is the second largest museum in China.
It has over 400,000 items in its permanent collection displayed over more than 753,473 square feet( 70,000 square metres).
The artwork on display includes bronze, ceramics, lacquer wares, silk & embroidery, paintings & calligraphies. It is quite well-known for its large collections of Ming and Qing imperial porcelain.
12. British Museum
Established in 1753, the British Museum is the largest in the U.K. with a gallery area of 277,000 square feet (25,700m2) and 8 million objects that show the diversity of human cultures.
The most popular attraction is the Egyptian gallery, the second finest collection of Egyptian relics in the world outside Egypt, especially the Rosetta Stone, believed to have been engraved in Egypt 196 B.C.
13. National Gallery of Art
Established in 1937, the National Gallery of Art is a major landmark of Washington, D.C. The museum is home to more than 150,000 sculptures, decorative arts, prints, drawings, photographs, and paintings in the gallery's permanent collection.
14. Cinquantenaire Museum
One of the largest museums in Europe, this public museum is part of the Royal Museums of Art and History located in the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels, Belgium.
With a total of 350.000 works of art from various continents dating from the tenth century to the present day, the museum is dedicated to the history of human evolution and the largest civilizations.
15. Three Gorges Museum
The huge dome-shaped Three Gorges Museum opened in 2005 and it covers an area of about 430,000 square feet.
The focus of the museum is on the culture and geography of the Three Gorges region and construction of the dam, but displays also include a wide range of artefacts such as cultural remnants from the Han Dynasty, bronze wares of Shu and Ba States, relics of southwestern people, and calligraphies, paintings and more.
16. MASS MoCA
One of the largest centres for contemporary visual art and performing arts in the United States with 250,000 square feet of open space, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is a museum in a converted Arnold Print Works factory building complex.
MASS MoCA exhibits art by both well-known and emerging artists focusing on large-scale, immersive installations that would be impossible to realize in conventional museums.
17. The Israel Museum
Established in 1965,this is the largest museum in the Middle East with nearly 500,000 collections of arts and a gallery area of 199,000 square feet(18,500 m2).
As claimed by the museum, "It houses works dating from prehistory to the present day, in its Archaeology, Fine Arts, and Jewish Art and Life Wings, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world."
18. Minneapolis Institute of Art
Established in 1883, this is one of the largest art museums in the United States with a gallery area of 188,000 square feet (17,500m2), it houses more than 90,000 artworks representing 5,000 years of world history.
19. Musée National d'Art Moderne
The national museum for modern art of France is located in the Centre Pompidou in Paris. It is one of the biggest museums of modern and contemporary art in France with a collection that includes about 15,000 works representing the wealth of the artistic creation in 20th and 19th centuries
The permanent collections include major artists from those periods, such as Picasso, Dufy, Modigliani, Derain, Picabia, or Chagall among others.
20. Shandong Museum
The Shandong Museum in the City of Jinan, Shandong is 'the first large-scale, provincial, integrated topographic museum after the founding of the People's Republic of China'. It homes a collection of more than 210,000 historical relics.