Munich's Best Museums

Munich's Best Museums, Munich, Germany (D)

Munich is a city with enough museums and galleries to occupy a visitor for months. This directory selects 10 outstanding museums well worth your time and money. Six museums are located in the Kunstareal (Art District); they focus on art (painting and sculpture) or ancient cultures (Greek, Roman, Egyptian). The other are devoted to different aspects of science, technology, culture, and history.
How it works: The full article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play Store. Download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the sights featured in this article. The app's navigation functions guide you from one sight to the next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Sights Featured in This Article

Guide Name: Munich's Best Museums
Guide Location: Germany » Munich
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (D))
# of Attractions: 10
Author: Alice Tesla
Author Bio: Alice is an American writer and blogger currently living (and loving) Munich.
Author Website:
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • BMW Museum
  • Deutsches Museum (German Museum)
  • Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum)
  • Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (Egyptian Art Museum)
  • Alte Pinakothek (Old Gallery)
  • Pinakothek der Moderne (Museum of Modern Art)
  • Glyptothek (Ancient Sculpture Museum)
  • Staatlichen Antikensammlungen (State Antiquities Museum)
  • Neue Pinakothek (New Gallery)
  • Münchner Stadtmuseum (City Museum of Munich)
BMW Museum

1) BMW Museum

This museum gives a history in words, images and (of course) vehicles of the famous Bavarian Motor Works. From historic roadsters to concept cars, from motorcycles to race cars, the sleek, modern museum explores all BMW products and also details the evolution of the brand. On that note, don't miss the room devoted to advertising with its alternating displays that show ads, posters, and even videos. Your museum admission also includes entrance to the current temporary exhibition. Explanations are in German and English. True Beamer fans should keep in mind that the Museum is just one of three parts to the Bavarian automaker's huge site located next to Munich's Olympia Park; the free BMW World is a car showroom on steroids. Yes, you can even buy a car there! If you want to see the BMW plant itself, you'll need to make a reservation well in advance, as the tour is very popular.
Image Courtesy of Softeis.
Deutsches Museum (German Museum)

2) Deutsches Museum (German Museum)

The best-known museum in town, the Deutsches Museum combines an enormous collection of items from every area of science, culture, and technology with a down-to-earth attitude of explanation and exploration. The breadth of the collection means that you'll need to either select carefully which exhibits you see—or plan on an all-day (or multi-day) adventure. A good place to start is the website, which maintains a current list of what exhibits are open. Highlights of the museum: the shipping exhibit, comprised not just of models but of actual boats; the sprawling exhibit on energy, including a room full of all kinds of historic power engines, many in operation; the exhibit on computers, which, in addition to an impressive collection of technology artifacts, explains computing through interactive displays. Also not to be missed, especially if you visit with kids, are several of the stops on the so-called "Red Dot Tours." These drop-in tours offer free explanations (in German) in various sections of the museum. Even if you don't speak German, the elaborate model train exhibit (in Transportation, demonstrations at 11:00, 14:00, 16:00) is wonderful. Another must-see is the miniature brick factory in the Ceramics area, where twice a day (at 10:00 and 14:00) a technician puts everything in motion and turns extruded clay into pocket-sized over-fired bricks, purchasable as souvenirs for €1. Check the website to confirm which tours and demonstrations are scheduled each day.
Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum)

3) Jüdisches Museum (Jewish Museum)

Even from the outside, this understated museum makes a strong statement about the necessity of open discourse when it comes to Jewish life in Munich. Adorning the transparent first-floor exterior of this relatively new museum (opened in March 2007) are excerpts of conversations between the Israeli-born UK artist Sharone Lifschitz and regular German citizens who responded to her newspaper ads seeking conversations. The transparent exterior and its emphasis on dialogue are the inverse of the massive, fortress-like synagogue next door.

Given the fact that Munich is the birthplace of National Socialism, many visitors (judging from online reviews) expect Munich's Jewish Museum to focus on the horrors of the Nazi Period. However, the small but powerful permanent exhibition (on the lower floor) takes the destruction of European Jewry as a given, and instead focuses on telling, in small but deliberate strokes, the local history of this religious/cultural minority. Visitors who find themselves "wanting more" from the exhibit should consider the notion that this sense of absence may be precisely the point. (And for more information, the City Museum of Munich has a permanent exhibition on the Nazi period.) The museum's upper floor is used to host temporary exhibits (check the website for current information). The ground floor, in addition to a comprehensive bookstore, houses a kosher café. Show ticket to receive 50% discount at the City Museum (just across the plaza).
Image Courtesy of Bbb.
Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (Egyptian Art Museum)

4) Museum Ägyptischer Kunst (Egyptian Art Museum)

Focusing on Egyptian art (not just cultural artifacts), this museum is a work of art in itself: the galleries are underground, and the wide descending steps to the entrance inevitably provoke the exhilarating feeling that one is entering a Pharaoh's tomb. The displays (explained in German and English) manage not only to explain but enliven the art production of the North African civilization across the incredible five millennia of its history. €1 admission on Sun.
Image Courtesy of WBlomquist.
Alte Pinakothek (Old Gallery)

5) Alte Pinakothek (Old Gallery)

The Alte Pinakothek is home to almost 700 works of European painting from the 14th to the 18th centuries, representing all the major national traditions (German, Italian, French, Spanish, Netherlandish, Flemish, and Dutch). While there are no single paintings that have risen (deservedly or not) to the level of fame of da Vinci's "Mona Lisa" or Botticelli's "Birth of Venus," lovers of classical art will not be disappointed. All the Old Masters are represented on these walls: Albrecht Dürer, Jan Brueghel, Peter Paul Rubens, Nicolas Poussain, Rembrandt, Guido Reni, Jacopo Tintoretto, Raphael, El Greco. When you are done marveling at the paintings, take a moment to marvel at the building itself: the damage suffered in WWII was repaired purposefully with different color brick, allowing a visitor (especially from the south façade) to see the extent of the reconstruction. (During the war, the museum was closed and the art moved out of Munich for safe-keeping.) €1 admission on Sunday.
Image Courtesy of Lourdes Cardenal.
Pinakothek der Moderne (Museum of Modern Art)

6) Pinakothek der Moderne (Museum of Modern Art)

Recently reopened, the Pinakothek der Moderne is actually four different museums under one (beautiful) roof. As such, it is one of the largest spaces in the world devoted to modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design. What makes the Moderne wonderful isn't merely its size, but rather the caliber of the collections and the exhibitions it attracts. A must-see for devotees of modern and contemporary art, even skeptics will enjoy a few hours in this magnificent space. €1 admission on Sun.; Free on Wed. through 18 Sept. 2014.
Image Courtesy of Rufus46.
Glyptothek (Ancient Sculpture Museum)

7) Glyptothek (Ancient Sculpture Museum)

The Glyptothek is Munich’s oldest museum (opened 1830), but don’t let the stern ionic portico intimidate you: inside, the museum is open, airy, and perfectly suited for the impressive collection of Ancient Greek and Roman sculptures to which it plays host. The overview of each room are posted in English as well as German, and a guide to the statues themselves is available in multiple languages (including English) for €2. The original ceiling frescos didn't survive the WWII bombings, but even unadorned, the high ceilings, vaulted domes are spectacular, as is the journey through the Archaic, Classical, Hellenistic, and Roman periods of ancient carving arts. The classical halls are set around a courtyard; halfway though the journey, you can stop for a coffee and snack at the café, and even sit outside when the weather is nice. The fact that there's a €1 charge to visit the café (if you are not paying for the museum) suggests that it's a pretty popular place! Since you can view the museum's most famous sculpture (the Barberini Faun--a huge male nude) from the entryway, breakfast or a coffee break at the Glypotothek would be a good compromise for folks who don't have the time to peruse the entire collection. Combined ticket available with the Antiquities Museum; good for two days after day of purchase. €1 entry on Sun.
Staatlichen Antikensammlungen (State Antiquities Museum)

8) Staatlichen Antikensammlungen (State Antiquities Museum)

The twin building across the plaza from the Glyptothek (although without the niches with statues) is the home of the State Museum of Antiquities. Although the artifacts are old, the museum is continuously highlighting different aspects of its vast collection through exceptionally thoughtful and well-curated exhibitions. Upstairs, English-speaking students of Classics will recognize the name of James Loeb, the founder of “Loeb editions” (the series of green (for Greek) and red (for Latin) facing-text editions of classical texts). Loeb lived in Munich for many years and donated his private collection of antiquities to the museum. The major exhibit is given in English and German; the remaining parts of the collection are German only. Combined ticket available with the Glyptothek, good for two days after purchase. Special offer: €1 on Sun.
Image Courtesy of Oliver Kurmis.
Neue Pinakothek (New Gallery)

9) Neue Pinakothek (New Gallery)

Across the lawn to the north of the Alte Pinakothek, the Neue Pinakothek continues a visitor's journey through fine art. (In nice weather, this green space provides an optimal place for a snack and even a snooze.) The Neue Pinakothek showcases nearly 400 paintings from the diverse styles of 19th century, from Classicism to Jugendstil (Art Nouveau). Highlights include paintings by German Romantics and French Impressionists. One again, the building itself complements the art and completes the experience. Combination day ticket available for all three Pinakothek. €1 admission on Sun.
Image Courtesy of Nadkachna.
Münchner Stadtmuseum (City Museum of Munich)

10) Münchner Stadtmuseum (City Museum of Munich)

Munich is a city with such a lengthy and varied history that a museum devoted to its past traditions and present happenings is entirely appropriate. If you are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the "city of art and beer," this museum is a must-see. Explanations in German and English. In addition to the detailed and thoughtful permanent exhibit, the museum also mounts exciting temporary exhibits related to contemporary social, cultural, and political concerns. Show your ticket to receive a 50% discount at the Jewish Museum (just across the plaza).
Image Courtesy of Rufus46.

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

Top 10 Cafes and Restaurants in Munich

Top 10 Cafes and Restaurants in Munich

While there are many restaurants and cafes in downtown Munich for a visitor to choose from, by far not all of them are truly worth visiting. Here's the solid list of quality cafes and restaurants that will add greatly to your Munich experience. Each restaurant and cafe featured here offers...
12 German-Made Things to Buy in Munich

12 German-Made Things to Buy in Munich

The Bavarian capital Munich, much as the whole state of Bavaria, form an inseparable part of the German image, although a very unique part in its difference to the rest of the country, including the language. Bavarian beer occupies an important place in German heritage, from the infamous 1920s Beer...