Acclaimed digital cultural expert, Kevin Sumption – CEO and director of the Australian National Maritime Museum – shares his top ten museums to visit around the world.

Museu Nacional do Azulejo, Lisbon

“Despite its out-of-the-way location, the National Tile Museum is worth visiting for its splendid collection of decorative ceramic tiles (‘azulejos’) from the 15th century onwards. Set in a 16th century abbey, the museum tells the story of Lisbon through the tiles on show – it’s fascinating.”

Lower East Side Tenement Museum, New York

“Walking into this unique museum, which is set in an old apartment block, is very moving. It’s like stepping into a time capsule as you experience the powerful stories of immigrants and their families throughout the various rooms. Bookings are essential.” 

Wallace Collection, London

“The superb collection includes world-famous decorative arts, French paintings, porcelain and furniture from the 15th to 19th centuries. Set in an historic house, the museum also offers a range of family activities such as art workshops and children’s audio guides. Admission is free.”

Wellcome Collection, London

“This is an eclectic and intriguing collection of medical and technical instruments. They have excellent public programs and a range of exhibitions, some of which have covered topics as diverse as the ‘spleen’ and ‘dirt’.”

Action Stations, Sydney

“Sydney’s newest permanent cultural attraction is part of the Australian National Maritime Museum – so of course, I’m passionate about it! 
Action Stations features a dramatic, immersive cinematic experience, a new discovery and exploration space and digital audio-visual encounters that recall sailors’ memories on board vessels including HMAS Onslow, Vampire and Advance.”

Vasa Museum, Stockholm

“This maritime museum features an entire 17th century vessel pulled out of the water. The sand and the temperature had completely preserved it, which is quite extraordinary. Here you can learn about the story of the vessel and experience it at the same time.” 

Boston Children’s Museum, Boston

“This is one of the best children’s museums in the world. Founded in 1913, it has theatre at its heart and provides a great opportunity to learn about the city of Boston through hands-on engagement. Designed for families, the exhibits focus on science, the environment and the arts.”

National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation, Tokyo

“This museum is ideal for families with teenagers, who will love the Japanese androids. It offers the best of science and tech culture and aptly demonstrates Japan’s fascination with robots.”

Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York

“This cutting-edge museum, spanning 240 years of design and creativity, reopened in 2014 and is another great place to take teenagers. New Zealand-born Seb Chan led the re-imagining of the digital representation of design. It’s not only nice and quiet but it’s the best new design museum.”

Cité des Sciences et de l’Industrie, Paris

“This is the biggest science museum in Europe but it is only known to Parisians. Its permanent exhibitions include light games (3D images and optical illusions) and the not-to-be-missed submarine, the Argonaute. Offering multi-lingual interpretation, it is ideal for tweens and teenagers.”

Image: Lower East Side Tenement Museum

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