The floorspace of London’s Tate Modern – one of the city’s greatest tourist attractions – will more than double when the gallery’s multi-million-pound new extension opens this month.
So what better time for modern art fans to rewrite their travel wish lists? Here's our pick of the best places to see cutting-edge work from both big names and emerging artists.
Tate Modern's extension taking shape earlier this year © Tate Photography
Tate Modern, London, UK
The new building stands directly behind the world-renowned Turbine Hall gallery on the South Bank of the River Thames. As tall as the former power station which houses the original gallery, the extension will house hundreds of works across its 11 floors, many of which have remained hidden for years in the vaults. Down in the basement, the power station’s old oil tanks will host interactive and performance pieces. Be sure to make time for this summer’s Georgia O’Keeffe retrospective, the first look at her work in the UK for 20 years.
Unmissable artwork – Triptych August 1972, Francis Bacon
Bacon’s harrowing triptych is one of the Tate Modern’s most affecting works. Its bleak look at the death of his partner George Dyer will leave you stunned.
Hakone Open-Air Museum, Japan
Arguably the best sculpture park in the world, this outdoor space in the hot springs region of Hakone is just over an hour from Tokyo. Whether you visit in the snowy depths of winter or when the grass is lush in early summer, you can’t help but be captivated by the art on show here, the mountainous backdrops giving everything an added air of grandeur. As well as hosting work by a number of famed Japanese sculptors, the park is also home to an impressive collection of Henry Moore’s hulking bronzes, colourful creations by Fernand Leger and classics by French artist Auguste Rodin.
Unmissable artwork – Reclining Figure: Arch Leg, Henry Moore
Moore’s instantly recognisable style, not to mention the sheer scale of this four-metre long reclining figure, make it the pick of Hakone’s main collection.
The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York City, USA
Now in a slick new location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, the Whitney’s devotion to modern American art makes it an essential stop for art lovers spending time in New York. Big names from the US art scene, including Willem de Kooning, Edward Hopper and George Bellows, rub shoulders with newer, challenging sculptures and installations, all in a building which is itself a work of art. The forthcoming Danny Lyon: Message to the Future show, presenting 175 photos of those on the margins of American society, runs from 17 June to 25 September 2016.
Unmissable artwork – Early Sunday Morning, Edward Hopper
The Whitney’s collection of Hoppers is legendary. This painting of New York’s Seventh Avenue in 1930 is one his most famous works, conjuring an eerily quiet NYC.
MALBA, Buenos Aires, Argentina
The Museo de Arte Latinamericano, or MALBA as it’s known by locals, is Buenos Aires’ hottest cultural destination. Its aim is simple – to host the best modern art from artists across Latin America. That means that as well as classics by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, a diverse array of artists form a cornerstone of the gallery’s permanent collection. Avant garde works by Emilio Pettoruti and Alejandrio Xul Solar are among the paintings which many visitors from outside South America will be seeing for the first time. Argentinian sculptor Alicia Penalba’s retrospective, which runs until October 2016, is MALBA’s main exhibition this year.
Unmissable artwork – Manifestacion, Antonio Berni
This evocative, visceral painting of a workers’ demonstration by Argentine painter Antonio Berni is the best of a spectacular permanent collection of 20th-century Latin art.
Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain
Madrid’s 20th-century art museum, the Reina Sofia focuses mainly on artworks by Spanish painters and sculptors. And as the country that produced era-defining geniuses such as Picasso, Dali and Miro, that means it’s blessed with a permanent collection that few museums in the world can match. It also has a number of spaces dedicated to shorter exhibitions, with works by international artists on show. Mexican conceptualist Ulises Carrion is the focus of a new show running until 10 October 2016, with a look at his bizarre and brilliant art books.
Unmissable artwork – Guernica, Pablo Picasso
Picasso’s greatest work, Guernica pulls no punches in its brutal depiction of a Luftwaffe air raid during the Spanish Civil War. Worth the admission fee alone.
MMK, Frankfurt, Germany
Frankfurt’s modern art museum, the Museum fur Moderne Kunst (MMK), puts rival institutions in Munich and Berlin in the shade thanks to its 5000-strong collection of art dating back to the 1960s. Found in a unique triangular building just outside of the city’s Old Town, the MMK – which has spawned a new branch, MMK 2, in the city's banking district – has developed a reputation as one of the best places in the world to see minimalist and pop art, with work by Warhol, Lichtenstein and Segal on show. It’s also home to a peerless photography collection. Visual artist Fiona Tan’s exhibition of photos, installations and films starts in September 2016 and runs until January 2017.
Unmissable artwork – We Rose Up Slowly, Roy Lichtenstein
An archetypal Lichtenstein, featuring a hand-painted quote and a couple in a close embrace, We Rose Up Slowly is arguably MMK’s best known piece.
MOCA Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, USA
The main location of LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art has a collection of works that makes it a worthy West Coast rival to New York’s MoMA. The downtown gallery has more than 5000 artworks on show, with a focus on the period after 1940. Renowned names such as Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg and Mark Rothko rub shoulders with lesser-known but equally important artists from across the USA including Cady Noland and Cindy Sherman. Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA runs until 11 July 2016 and includes installations and art which came to define a decade currently enjoying a nostalgic resurgence.
Unmissable artwork – Number 1 1949, Jackson Pollock
The apotheosis of Pollock’s drip paintings, Number 1 1949 is a mesmeric piece of work which shows off the artist’s idiosyncratic style.