Art Lovers’ Guides to the European creative hubs
See the world through a new lens, get inspired with a dose of art and culture.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” — Thomas Merton
As the temperature dips, so too does our desire to explore outside the confines of our cozy homes, but really this is the time when we should seek creative inspiration and aesthetic insight in the museums and galleries of our favorite cities. We’re compiling a list of our most-loved cities for artistic adventures and we hope you’ll tag along.
With imperial grandeur and baroque scenes, Vienna is the cultural escape that delivers almost as soon as you arrive. Explore the palatial palaces or plan your museum visits at one of the city’s famous coffeehouses, but whatever you do, be sure to put Vienna on your bucket list. An utterly immersive experience for those seeking a whirlwind romance with European art, music, literature, and architecture, Vienna is a cultural treasure trove. Each neighborhood within the city is unique with much to offer and we ourselves are named after the 7th district, Neubau. As the creative hub of the city, Neubau is filled with galleries, cafes, shops and other cultural hotspots that one can spend hours wandering through. Attracting a younger, more urban population, we must recommend making a trip to one of the coolest pockets of the city, that we take great pride in calling our home and source of inspiration.
While Neubau is the flourishing center for new art galleries and exhibitions, we also recommend you check out Kunsthalle Wien. The current exhibit by Andreas Forgasi, Nine Buildings, Stipped is the curious exploration by the artist on the ever-changing Austrian capital. While the changing face of cities, has been a fascinating subject for many artists, Fogarasi’s take on this matter is refreshing. Through appropriating fragments of recently demolished buildings as well as the ones that replace them, he created a sculptural documentation that showcases the rapidly shifting facade of his home through a new perspective. We definitely suggest making the trip.
A photogenic seaside city with the cultural clout to rival the very best in the world, Barcelona is the heart and soul of Spain. From ancient masterpieces to modern showstoppers and so much more, it’s easy to understand why there’s almost no such thing as a one-time visitor to Barcelona. As soon as you’ve arrived, you’re very likely to already be planning your next visit. With jaw-dropping architectural attractions and marvelous museums, this city over-delivers when it comes to culture.
As one of Europe’s biggest cultural hubs, there is no dearth of museums, exhibitions and galleries, but our recommendation is Knotting the Space, works by Aurèlia Muñoz (1926−2011). Best known for textile research, this exhibit is a collection of Muñoz’s drawings, tapestries, textile pieces as well as a look into the artists’ methods and techniques.
Less touristy than Rome and admittedly far less beautiful than Florence, yet Milan manages to pack a punch when it comes to old-world romance and all-out charm. Packed with cultural gems and inspiring artistic sites, Milan is home to some of the most intriguing galleries in Italy. From historic must-sees to modern masterpieces, a world of creative richness awaits art lovers in Milan.
Our recommendation for Milan is not one of the more classical museums (although that should not be given a miss either), but instead, we suggest stopping by the Museo delle Culture (MUDEC). Their exhibit, Family, is a collection of 60 photographs selected by the artist, Elliot Erwitt, himself, and explores the intricacies of familial relationships, recreating our more traditional sense of the word.
Perhaps the more alternative of the lot, Berlin has been receiving a lot of attention lately, and rightly so. A combination of its liberal politics, creative freedom and cheap rent has attracted a lot of young, avant-garde talent who contribute to the restless excitement that is palpable in the city.
When thinking about the contribution of German influence on art and design, it is impossible to not discuss Bauhaus. To commemorate one hundred years of the movement, we recommend visiting the Berlinische Gallerie for their detailed exhibition original bauhaus. The Gallery is presenting famous, familiar and forgotten Bauhaus originals and recounting the history behind the objects with special focus on fourteen key objects from which they develop fourteen case studies taking a look at the Bauhaus legacy.
No formal introduction is required. World-renowned for its awe-inspiring artistic attractions, historic sites and museums, and of course, joie de vivre, one does not simply visit Paris, one falls in love with Paris and begins a lifelong romance. Discover a city where old-world glamour meets contemporary trailblazers along with an unmistakable style that manifests on almost every street corner.
Musée Zadkine is giving us a reason to take a walk through the forest in peak winter, an activity we wouldn’t otherwise recommend. Their new exhibit, The Dreamer of the Forest, brings together nearly a hundred works from forty different artists. It explores the human fascination made of fear and enchantment that the forest arouses in the common imagination. With the rise of ecological concerns, this exhibition is an interesting form of engagement with a pressing matter of our time.
Boldly traversing the tightrope between historic and hip with an unassuming air, Brussels is one of Europe’s most underrated treasures. Expect art deco facades at one turn and contemporary cool at the next and then you’ve got a pretty good picture of this dynamic city that seems to be blooming art from every street corner. If you’re looking for a dose of creative inspiration, bet on Brussels and let yourself be surprised by the Belgium capital’s cultural cache.
The contemporary art scene in Brussels is thriving, as evidenced by the HIT exhibit at KANAL- Centre Pompidou. HIT is a collaboration between curator and artist Els Vermang and artist Claudia Radulescu consisting of musical composition IMPOSTURE, and spatial installation MPSTR, described as a fusion of music, visual arts and pop culture.
What can be said about London that hasn’t already been said? Not much, and perhaps this is the appeal — everyone loves London and you can find love letters to the city in its cultural landmarks, literature, and art. Steeped in history and but with an everlasting youthful eye on the future, London never tires of its role as one of the world’s favourite cultural muses.
If you find yourself in London, it might be worth your while to take some time out to check the Design Museum. Their current exhibit Moving to Mars is an immersive experience creating an environment that consists of about 200 objects including contributions from NASA, the European Space Agency and SpaceX. Challenging us to think about the realities of daily life on mars as we strive towards the goal of zero waste and a clean energy powered alternate civilization.