The Smithsonian, MoMA, and the Louvre are must-sees if you’re traveling to Washington D.C., New York, and Paris. But what about the hidden gems in and around major cities that no one ever talks about? Smaller museums are brimming with new things to discover for the savvy traveler who ventures off the beaten path. Since they aren’t as well known, you’ll find fewer crowds, a less hectic pace, and time to immerse yourself in the subject matter.

After exploring the mega exhibits with the rest of the tourists, add these smaller options to your itinerary for a unique experience.

MoMa PS1 MoMA PS1 – Queens, New York, USA

MoMA PS1 is a small museum with a big reputation. It’s one of the most significant institutions in the United States dedicated to contemporary art. The museum got its start in 1971 as part of a program to turn New York City’s abandoned and underutilized buildings into artist studios and exhibit spaces. Visitors are treated to a lineup of permanent installations and visiting exhibits that introduce emerging contemporary artists. Don’t miss Warm Up 2016, an outdoor music festival on the museum grounds that takes place every Saturday during the summer. Location: 22-25 Jackson Avenue, Long Island City, New York. Hours: 12PM – 6PM (closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays).

Le Musée Rodin – Paris, FranceThe Thinker

Just a few kilometers from the Louvre across the Champs-Élysées sits Le Musée Rodin. This peaceful haven in Paris offers a unique opportunity to learn about the life and work of Auguste Rodin. Rodin is perhaps best known for The Thinker, and the gardens at this museum include a colossal cast of this sculpture. The museum grounds include the Hôtel Biron – a mansion that houses more than 300 sculptures – as well as the sculpture garden and additional exhibition spaces. Location: 77 Rue de Varenne, 75007 Paris, France. Hours: 10AM – 5:45PM daily (closed Mondays).

The International Spy Museum – Washington, D.C., USA

Immediately upon entering the International Spy Museum, you’ll receive a new identity and personal dossier to memorize. At any moment, a roaming staff member may ask questions about your alter ego – don’t blow your cover! The museum includes an exhibition of spy paraphernalia from bygone eras and amazing stories, including details of chef JuliInternational Spy Museuma Child’s stint as a spy during World War II. This summer, get up close and personal with everyone’s favorite spy hero James Bond with “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains.” Location: 800 F Street, NW, Washington, D.C. Hours: 9AM – 7PM summer, 10AM – 6PM rest of year.

The Sherlock Holmes Museum – London, England

Sherlock Holmes MuseumAfter getting your fill of ancient artifacts at the British Museum, set your sights on exploring some fictional ones at The Sherlock Holmes Museum in London. Step back in time as you enter the doors of 221b Baker Street, faithfully maintained exactly as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle described it in his books about Sherlock Homes and Dr. Watson. Make sure you visit the third floor to see wax figures of Holmes, Watson, and Dr. Moriarty. Location: 221b Baker Street, London. Hours: 9:30AM – 6PM daily.

 China National Tea Museum – Hangzhou, China

China Tea Museum

While the Forbidden City and Terracotta Army Museum will impress you with their size and scope, the China National Tea Museum will soothe your nerves and provide a thought-provoking experience. Located on more than 5 acres near West Lake in Hangzhou, the exhibition showcases the history and growing process of tea. The Tea Customs Hall will provide an in-depth look at the importance and impact of tea culture, and the Kaleidoscope Hall features over 300 types of tea. Location: 88 Longjing Road, Xihu, Hangzhou. Hours: 8:30AM – 4:30PM daily (closed Mondays).

The Park of Monsters – Lazio, Italy

Sarco Bosco, or The Park of Monsters, was built in the 16th century as a rejection of the Renaissance’s elegant and refined artwork. The park was created by prince Pier Francesco Orsin, who suffered through a catastrophic war, the death of his best friend, being held ransom for years, and finally the death of his wife. Enter through a sculpture called “The Mouth of Hell” to picnic amid the gruesome faces. Location: Località Giardino, 01020 Bomarzo VT, Italy. Hours: 8:30AM – 7PM daily.The Park of Monsters

Images courtesy of:

  1. MoMA PS1, courtesy of MoMA
  2. The Thinker, courtesy of Musee Rodin
  3. International Spy Museum, courtesy of Time
  4. Sherlock Holmes Museum, courtesy of Sherlock Holmes Museum
  5. China Tea Museum, courtesy of China Digital Times
  6. The Park of Monsters, courtesy of The Telegraph

About The Author

Bill Conn is a travel enthusiast and writer at Scribewise. His favorite travel destinations include Shanghai, Vancouver, Munich – and of course, his home town of Philadelphia. Visit

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