Five Best Mood-Matching Museums

Lists: What kind of art do you feel like today? Hayden Foreman-Smith knows where to go to match any mood.

04.02.09 | 9:25 AM ET

(c) Sam Buxton, courtesy Kinetica

Not sure what you’d like to see? Having trouble deciding? Well ... how do you feel?

Energetic: Kinetica

London, England

Constantly fidgeting? Have an urge to get outside, but it’s raining? Then Kinetica is the spot for you. Kinetica is the U.K.‘s first museum of kinetic art, which means movement and lots of it. In fact, the art at Kinetica is always on the go: robotics, lasers, LEDs, light, magnets, mirrors, pendulums, dancing, sensors, computers, machines and motors ensure there’s always something happening somewhere, right before your eyes. The founders had increasingly felt that there was a need to create a space in which contemporary art (though pieces can date as far back as the 1920s) created in “multi-disciplinary media” (meaning not simply paint on canvas) could flourish. With Kinetica, they’ve made a pretty good stab at it. The work on display is innovative, inventive and almost certain to move you.

Lethargic: NyCarlsberg Glyptotek

Copenhagen, Denmark

Fewer places in Europe are better suited to a lazy Sunday (mid) morning than the Glyptotek in Copenhagen. The museum’s neoclassical marble façade and interior provide a soothing sanctuary of calm, away from the bustle of nearby Central Station and flashing neon of Tivoli amusement park. Inside, groggy heads will be cleared by the clean, luminous light pouring through the glass-capped conservatory and a cup of tea under the resident, poolside palm trees. Exploring the excellent collection is a joy. It was built by beer-brewer Carl Jacobsen, whose particular interest was in classical art. The Greek, Egyptian, Etruscan and Roman sculptures are superb, and the later additions of works by Monet, Picasso, Renoir, Gauguin and Degas (the latter including one of his “Little Dancer” bronzes) are also worth a look, as is the view from the rooftop terrace. To top it all, on Sundays (when much of the city is shut) entry is free, with live classical music offered October through March.

Fastidious: Warhol Archives, The Andy Warhol Museum

Pittsburgh, Penn.

Andy Warhol once professed that in the future we would each get our 15 minutes of fame. One has to wonder whether, to stretch out that 15 minutes to the exorbitant amount of celebrity he garnered during and after his lifetime, it would help to be as, er, difficult as he was. Whilst being creative, trend-setting and a marketing genius, Warhol was also paranoid, impatient and compulsive. However intense your mood, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to match Warhol’s knack for accuracy, attention to detail and penchant for maintaining habits (or collecting daily tat)—if only because you don’t have as much room. Warhol had an enormous warehouse at his disposal. A visit to the Archives of the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh (the largest single-artist museum in the U.S.) will show you what we mean. Eight thousand cubic meters of space are dedicated to the man’s stores of silver wigs, shoes, taped conversations and daily correspondence—amongst almost every possible other mundane thing imaginable.

Paranoid: International Spy Museum

Washington, D.C.

Feel like they’re out to get you? Well, maybe they are. If so, the only way to uncover their methods and stay one step ahead is to take a trip to D.C.‘s International Spy Museum. Everything you could possibly need to accomplish your mission is here, including over 200 spy gadgets: bugs, invisible-ink writing kits, camera-carrying pigeons, CIA disguises developed by Hollywood, pistols disguised as lipstick holders or cigarette cases, shoe phones and poison-tipped umbrellas. Other exhibits tell the story of the world’s “second-oldest profession” through the ages, from ancient Greece (with its Trojan horse) and Elizabethan England to the United States during the Cold War. Spies chosen because their personas were thought to be “beyond suspicion” are revealed, as are their more famous counterparts. You can even have a go at cracking codes, like those created using the “unbreakable” World War II Enigma code machine. But if you get caught, we didn’t send you ... OK?

Romantic (with a capital “R”): Musee de la vie Romantique

Paris, France

As any part of Paris is the perfect place for a visit when you’re feeling romantic, we thought we’d tell you instead about this delightful little villa. The Musee de la vie Romantique tells the story of the crowd of Romantic artists, writers and composers that frequented it. After the Dutch painter Ary Scheffer moved into this beautiful house in 1830, he played host to so many creative guests that the area quickly became known as “New Athens.” Against the background of a typically grand, bourgeois 19th-century interior, the permanent collection includes aristocratic portraits (Scheffer was tutor to the royal children) and mementos such as locks of writer George Sand’s hair and a cast of her lover Chopin’s hand. There are regular temporary exhibitions on display, gardens and a café. The building quietly sits facing a charming cobbled courtyard at the end of a private alley. It’s a romantic (with a small “r”) spot, to be sure.

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