An intriguing alternative to the typical grand museums, here are ten house museums in Europe you must visit.
I always try to visit house museums when I travel. Their particular collections show us a more personal side of the former inhabitants. It’s a true privilege to enter their homes and see the room and objects that had been part of their daily lives. Here are ten house museums in Europe you shouldn’t miss.
1. House of Gustave Moreau, Paris
One of my favorite places in the world! Located just below the Pigalle district in Paris, the two-story museum features walls full of paintings, sketches and the artist’s most famous works. Plus, a stunning spiral staircase that connects the two levels.
2. Musée Jacquemart-André, Paris
Also in Paris, though inside a decidedly more distinct building that’s truly incredible, elegant and luxurious, the Musée Jacquemart-André boasts the City of Light’s most beautiful private collection of artworks in the exclusive atmosphere of an immense 19th-century residence.
3. Villa Museo Giacomo Puccini, Torre del Lago
In 1891, the master spent the summer at Torre del Lago where he completed his third opera, the Manon Lescaut. His holiday home has been kept intact and turned into a museum by his son Antonio. Admire the Förster piano in the Omnibus Room, various portraits of Puccini, manuscripts, honors, paintings of his Macchiaioli friends, trophies, rifles and more.
4. Casa Manzoni, Milan
At Casa Manzoni in Milan, you can not only visit the rooms inhabited by the literary icon and author of “The Bethrothed” and his family, you can also see the cultural center that was inaugurated following the 2015 renovation where meetings, events, and literary conferences take place.
5. Casa Bagatti Valsecchi, Milan
Milan has many house museums, and among those I visited, this is perhaps my favorite. An imposing staircase with a rich balustrade that resembles embroidery leads to rooms preserved in their nineteenth-century setting. The mansion is home to an exquisite collection of paintings, tapestries, carpets, furniture, weapons, ceramics, bronzes, glass, jewelry, irons and household utensils from the 15th and 16th centuries.
6. Musée Flaubert d’Histoire de la Médecine, Rouen
In addition to rooms where some of the greatest masterpieces of French literature were conceived and written, manuscripts, first editions, portraits and objects that recall the protagonists of Gustave Flaubert’s novels, the museum features a rich collection of 19th-century surgical instruments. This is not an oddity, but a very coherent choice as Flaubert’s father was a doctor.
7. House of Monet, Giverny
Water lilies, the pond, the bridge….where did Monet seek inspiration from for his magnificent paintings? From the garden of his house in Giverny that the artist personally tended. Monet’s home and garden are open to the public, and of course, there is no better time in spring to do so. It’s an easy day trip from Paris, but one that should be booked in advance.
8. Charles Dickens Museum, London
The writer lived in this elegant Georgian house in London for two years that were crucial to his literary production as he penned “Oliver Twist”, “The Pickwick Club” and “Nicholas Nickleby” during this time. Between perfectly reconstructed rooms and objects, you can discover and rediscover the literary work of Dickens and his habits, and you can also visit temporary exhibitions that the museum hosts regularly.
9. Anne Frank House, Amsterdam
An important place for many reasons: it is within these walls that some of the most simultaneously beautiful and harrowing pages of history and literature were penned. Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazis in this house alongAmsterdam’s Prinsengracht canal in a secret room tucked behind a bookshelf.
10. The Sherlock Holmes Museum, London
I conclude with a house museum that is a bit distant from those we have “visited” so far as its inhabitant was a fictional character: Sherlock Holmes. The rooms of this elegant Baker Street house are furnished according to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s descriptions. The detective’s studio sits on the first floor while Watson’s and Mrs. Hudson’s rooms are on the second. The third floor features the wax statues of various characters from the novels. In addition, everyday objects are left around as if the inhabitants could return at any time. A veritable treat for mystery lovers!