Top Private House Museums Around the World
Looking for a unique historical design experience? How about a private house museum? These residential based museums allow you to explore secret’s of their previous owners and learn a bit more about their lives. After all, our homes tell a story of who we are and offer up a collection of what we love. Below we have curated a list of museums which were once private residences, whose contents and collections are now open to the public. Scroll on for a list of favorite private house museums around the world.
Private House Museums in Europe
Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, Rome
Owned by the aristocratic Doria-Pamphilj-Laundi family, this palazzo is a wonderful gallery full of Rome’s richest private art collections, Baroque frescoed ceilings, and antique statues. Here you can find works by famous artists such as Raphael, Tintoretto, Titian, Caravaggio, Bernini, and Velàsquez.
Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris
This museum is an elegant house museum of French decorative arts that was built in 1911 by the Comte Moise de Camondo, with the architect Renê Sergent, to set off his collection of eighteen-century French Furniture and art objects. In 1936 it opened as a museum and today it’s maintained as if it were still a private home, well preserved in its original condition. The floors that are open to visitors are the lower ground floor (kitchens), upper ground floor (formal rooms), first floor (private apartments) and the gardens.
Musée Jacquemart André, Paris
This museum is one of Paris’ finest museums. Known for its remarkable collection, it features amazing works from the Italian Renaissance and 18th-century French painters. The opulent 19th-century mansion was built by art collectors Edouard André and his wife Nélie Jacquemart.
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Museum Van Loon, Amsterdam
This magnifique private residence was built in 1672 by the architect Adriaen Dortsman. The interior of the house has remained intact during the last centuries and still evokes the splendor of the Golden Age. In the rooms of Museum Van Loon, you can find a large collection of paintings, fine furniture, and precious porcelain. And of course, it couldn’t not have a beautiful garden, a perfect quiet oasis in the modern inner city.
Sir John Soane’s Museum, London
Sir John Soane’s Museum is a historic house and library of distinguished 19th-century architect Sir John Soane. Since his death (over 180 years ago) the house has been basically untouched and is filled with many drawings and models of Soane’s projects and the collections of paintings, drawings, and antiquities that he assembled.
Museo Sorolla, Madrid
This was the former home and art studio of Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida. It was also where he lived with his wife and three children. When you enter Museo Sorolla it is like you’re entering in one of the artist’s luminous paintings. The garden was his favorite place where he loved to paint, surrounded by flowers, water, and tranquillity. The home’s living spaces still have the family’s original Art Nouveau furniture. However, the most emotional space is certainly Sorolla’s studio.
Czech Cubism at the House at The Black Madonna, Prague
Built in 1911, the House at the Black Madonna is the first Cubist structure in Prague. Designed by Josef Gočár as a department store for the wholesaler František Josef Herbst, today the building houses a permanent collection dedicated to ‘Czech Cubism’. A style that conceptually combines fine art, applied arts, and architecture through interior design, furniture, and decorative objects. And one curious fact about this house is that it survived two world wars in the heart of Prague!
Private House Museums in the USA
Glessner House Museum, Chicago
Completed in 1887 by American architect Henry Hobson Richardson, today this house is a historical landmark. A radical departure from traditional Victorian architecture of the era, Richardson designed the house in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. A free revival architectural style he developed which incorporates 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish and Italian Romanesque characteristics. The Glessner House’s innovative layout and design make it one of the most important residential commissions of the 19th century.
Fallingwater, Mill Run, PA
Located in the mountains of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Fallingwater was designed as a private residence and weekend home for the family of Pittsburgh department store owner, Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr. The result is a harmonious union between art, architecture, and nature by the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.
Eames House, Pacific Palisades, CA
Also known as Case Study House No.8, the Eames House is a landmark of mid-20th century modern architecture. It is located in the neighborhood of Los Angeles. Designed in 1949 by Charles and Ray Eames, this museum serves as their home and studio, where they lived until their deaths.
Ca’ d’Zan and The Ringling, Sarasota, FL
The Ringling is a pre-eminent center for the arts and history dedicated to bringing the past and contemporary culture to life. It includes a Museum of Art, Circus Museum, the Ringling family mansion –
Ca’ d’Zan, an 18th-century theatre, and bayfront gardens.
Hearst Castle, San Simeon, CA
California’s first female architect Julia Morgan designed the house as the private residence of publishing magnate William Hearst. Today Hearst Castle is one of the most visited state parks with a 165-room castle, 127acres/51hectares of terraced gardens, fountains, pools, and stunning views of the sunny Central Coast.
Private House Museums in Asia
Jim Thompson House, Bangkok
This museum is located in central Bangkok and houses the art collection of the American businessman and architect Jim Thompson. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in Thailand. Jim is also the museum designer and former owner. The Jim Thompson House displays his small but notable selection of Asian art and personal belongings.
Katong Antique House Museum, Singapore
Offering a first-hand look into Peranakan culture, Katong Antique House is the perfect place to experience life in a Peranakan family home. A well-kept secret until recently, the private gallery offers tours to help people learn about the unique cultural practices of the Peranakan Chinese. Curator and owner Peter Wee has spent decades collecting items which reflect the unique aspects of Peranakan daily life.
Private House Museums in Oceania
Justin Art House Museum, Melbourne
The Justin Art House Museum is a perfect reflection of the two collectors of contemporary art, Charles and Leah Justin. They love to share their collection and passion for art, architecture, design, and food with the public, this is the propose of this museum. They have been collecting contemporary art for the past 40 years and the collection comprises over 250 works and it will continuing to grow!
Words by Rita Archer