There's something really special about art museums where the collection was curated by a single person whose original intention was to live amongst the work. Suggestions welcome!
  1. The Barnes Foundation
    This was the breathtaking collection of pharmaceutical chemist Albert C. Barnes. While heavily Impressionist and Modernist (Renoir, Matisse, Picasso), the works span cultures and eras. Dr. Barnes chose to display them in thought-provoking, "ensembles." The foundation's controversial move from Barnes' old house in Merion to a new building in Philly is the subject of the doc, "The Art of The Steal." Free day: First Sunday of the month.
  2. Peggy Guggenheim Collection
    This is the Modern collection of heiress Peggy Guggenheim (once married to German artist Max Ernst). It is located in Peggy's old home - a never finished 18th-Century palazzo on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. Includes works by Jackson Pollack, Marcel Duchamp, Dali, and Mondrian.
  3. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum
    The diverse works were collected by Jack and Isabella Gardner during their travels to Europe, Egypt, and parts of Asia. After the tragic death of their son, Isabella created a museum in Boston to share the work with the world. Isabella originally lived on the museum's fourth floor. After her death, the collection made headlines in 1990 when works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Degas, and others were stolen. Much has been written on this theft and Mrs. Gardner, a fascinating woman in her own right.
  4. The Broad
    Eli Broad commissioned this to house his personal collection (after a falling out with LACMA). Designed by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the museum officially opens in Downtown LA this September. The extensive contemporary collection includes works by Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman and Jeff Koons.
  5. Boros Collection
    In 2003, Chirstian Boros purchased "The Bunker" for his private contemporary art collection. Originally a Nazi-built air raid shelter, the building is now intermittently open to the public with rotating work. Presentations have featured pieces by Sarah Lucas, Ai Weiwei, Wolfgang Tillman and others.
  6. The Frick Collection
    The museum houses the collection of industrialist Henry Clay Frick in his former Manhattan mansion. Six gallery rooms display old master paintings, sculpture, 18th Century furniture and Oriental rugs, mostly according to Frick's original design. Perhaps the most famous is the Fragonard Room (once the drawing room) built to display works by French Rococo painter Jean-Honore Fragonard, known for his "veiled eroticism."
  7. Rubell Family Collection
    Located in a former DEA facility in Miami, the large Contemporary collection includes works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring. Each year the foundation puts on a "thematic" exhibition with work from the permanent collection, designed to then travel to museums around the world. Originally from New York, Steve Rubell was an entrepreneur and co-owner of Studio 54.
  8. Dali Theatre-Museum
    Located in the town where Salvador Dali grew up (the building was the theater where young Dali's art was first displayed). In addition to a Dali retrospective, the collection includes El Greco, Duchamp and others. Per Dali's request, the second floor is devoted to his friend, Spanish artist Antoni Pixot (who died this past June). In the main theater, Dali himself is laid to rest in a crypt below the stage floor.
  9. The Chinati Foundation
    This museum protects the living collection built by artist Donald Judd in the small town of Marfa, Texas. Chinati preserves the large-scale public installations that fill the town; works by Judd (including his home and former studio) as well as Dan Flavin, John Chamberlain and others. The mission of Chinati is to "bring art, architecture, and nature together in order to form a coherent whole." Marfa is one of my favorite places, and the whole community is an artistic experience.
  10. Walters Art Museum
    Initially a private collection and passed down generationally, it was donated to the city of Baltimore in the 1930s. Really eclectic collection, including a weapon room and a samurai tower. Also freeeee!
    Suggested by @sally
  11. The Morgan Library & Museum. Collection of J.P Morgan's rare books, prints, and art. He was fascinated by ancient societies, so there's a pretty impressive collection of B.C. stuff. Just saw the Lewis Carroll exhibit there. It marks the first time in 30 years that the original Alice manuscript is on loan from the British Library.
    Suggested by @Aisha
  12. Doris Duke's Shangri-La in Honolulu, HI hosts over 2500 pieces of Islamic Art. More info:
    Suggested by @boygirlparty