Do you know how many major European museums open at Christmas? Only one!

In large European cities, it is really a feat to find museums that open on Christmas Day. Of the ten most visited museums, only one opens on December 25.

Museums open at Christmas? As is often the case at this time of year, controversy rages over museum openings during the holidays: the latest in order of time is the one that has pitted the mayor of Florence, Dario Nardella, against the workers of the Florentine civic museums for openings on December 25 and January 1, communicated, workers and unions have made known, with little notice. But these are discussions that arise every year: there are many politicians who would like to see our museums open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Day as well. But what happens in the big European museums?

To make a comparison with Italy, where so many museums are open during the holidays, we compared the ten most visited museums in Europe in 2019 according to The Art Newspaper’s ranking, and found that, of these ten major institutions, only one opens on December 25 (the Centre Pompidou), while all the others will observe a day of closure. And even many will also close on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve. Let’s see in detail, going in order from most to least visited (each museum contains a link to the schedule page).

The Louvre remains closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, while on Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 it will close early at 5 p.m. The Vatican Museums close on Dec. 25 and 26, Jan. 1 and Jan. 6, but will have a one-hour delayed closure (at 7 p.m.) from Dec. 27 to 30, while instead there will be normal hours (closing at 6 p.m.) on Dec. 31. The British Museum, like all London museums, will be closed Dec. 24-26. It is worth noting that in the U.K. capital no museum opens on Christmas Day, so much so that the official city guide lists a number of proposals for December 25, and as you can see none include a visit to a museum because it is not possible to do so: tourists know this in advance and adjust accordingly.

Continuing the list, closures from December 24 to 26 for the Tate Modern and the National Gallery. The Reina Sofía in Madrid closes December 24, 25 and 31, as well as January 1 and 6. Closures Dec. 24, 25 and 26 for the Victoria and Albert Museum, while the Musée d’Orsay closes Dec. 25, and offers one-hour early closing (at 5 p.m.) Dec. 24 and 31. Madrid’s Prado is closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, and finally, Europe’s tenth most visited museum, the Centre Pompidou, follows its usual schedule until 9 p.m. (except on Tuesdays, when it is closed), but on Dec. 24 and 31 it will close early at 7 p.m.

Deserving separate consideration are Berlin’s museums, which are almost all open on December 25 and January 1, but on the other hand are almost all closed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Eve. A tourist eager to visit a museum in the German capital on these two days has very few options: on December 24 only the GDR Museum, the Deutsches Spionagemuseum, the Disgusting Food Museum (yes, there is a disgusting food museum in Berlin) and the Berlin Wall Museum are accessible, while there are a few more openings before New Year’s Eve (although everywhere with earlier closing times). Even in other countries (such as Switzerland or Sweden) it is a borderline feat to find a museum open on December 25: in Switzerland, for example, all the country’s major museums observe a day of closure on the holiday. The same is true if you travel south: in Lisbon, only two of the city’s top 20 museums open.

Pictured: the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Do you know how many major European museums open at Christmas? Only one!
Do you know how many major European museums open at Christmas? Only one!

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