Each year over 3000 museums and art galleries across Europe open their doors to the public for a twilight tour. Taking place on 17th May, this moonlit event invites you to see everything from old masters to groundbreaking contemporary art in a whole new light. Coming from an art enthusiast, who is a regular at exhibitions and solo shows, believe me when I say there is something particularly special about seeing your favourite artworks after sundown.
The European Museum night
A little of bit history for you - the European Museum night was founded in 2005 by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication – and nine years on, cities from Paris to Prague welcome tourists and locals after dark. There's an array of museums and galleries to choose from, so I wanted to give you the lowdown on which collections are simply too good to miss.
You'll be spoilt for choice if you opt for Paris, which is still hailed the capital of the art world.
The louvre museum in Paris
Whether you want to visit the Louvre to marvel at the Mona Lisa or see a huge collection of Picassos' in the Pompidou Centre, Paris is the place to be. If contemporary art is your passion, the Pompidou is a must - its huge chronological collection will teach about the defining movements of modern art, and once you've admired the contemporary masterpieces you can head upstairs to the rooftop garden for a magnificent midnight view of the city.
One of my favourite arts stops in Brussels is the Musée Magritte Museum, which houses over 200 works from the celebrated Belgian Surrealist artist René Magritte.
The Magritte Museum in Brussels
Magritte liked to experiment with a range of different mediums, which makes for a rich and diverse show. As you wander through his gouaches, drawings, sculptures, painted objects, billboards, music scores, old photographs and films you'll get inside the great mind of this visionary artist. The show alone is enough to excite and inspire you, but the opportunity to stay in the exhibition until 1a.m, will heighten the drama of the already witty, thought-provoking artworks.
If you'd prefer to step further back in time, then the Louvre-Lens is the ticket for you. Since the museum's opening, some of the greatest masterpieces of the Louvre museum have been exhibited at the Len's Grand Gallery.
The new Louvre is just 45 minutes from the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle Calais terminal
Their vast collection exhibits everything from decorative ceramics to exquisite examples of Islamic art. It also houses a huge collection of religious art – including Sandro Botticelli's Virgin and Child and Pietro di Cristoforo Vannucci's Saint Sebastian.
When the Rijksmuseum re-opened its door after a major renovation, I couldn't wait to revisit.
The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam
The grand museum is renowned for its large collection of Rembrandts; The Night Watch is a must-see and is considered a Dutch national icon. As well as Rembrandts and Vermeers, the Rijksmuseum houses over 8000 objects of art and history, beautifully displayed according to the time it was created – with so much to see, it's lucky you've got until midnight to see it all!
Wherever you choose to spend European Museum night, you're in for an amazing time. I've celebrated this cultural event is many European cities and have always been enchanted by the experience. The event only comes once a year - so, don't pass up the opportunity to see the greatest masterpieces and learn from the cultural icons of the past and present.