The priceless art hanging in these hallowed institutions isn't the only thing to be raved about. The world's most gorgeous museum restaurants offer their own eyeful of striking—and just as inspiring—décor.
Bar Luce, Fondazione Prada, Milan
If this Milanese café-esque restaurant looks like Wes Anderson designed it, that’s because he did. Anyone familiar with his film work—Moonrise Kingdom, The Life Aquatic, The Royal Tenenbaums—will easily recognize his signature palette of pinks, teals, and yellows as well as his fondness for all things retro and nostalgic (formica tables; globe pendant lighting). Perhaps most akin to the aesthetic of Mendl’s Bakery from The Grand Budapest Hotel, you'll find a pastry and candy counter serving up all manner of lattes and cappuccinos and brioches and tarts. Trust us: there's no better way to end a day of perusing the permanent and current collections at Fondazione Prada than with a gelato cone and a round of pinball on a Steve Zissou pinball machine.
V&A Cafe, Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Museum patrons of London's V&A have designers James Gamble, William Morris, and Edward Poynter to thank for its grandiose café, one of the world's most gorgeous museum restaurants. Victorian era-inspired wallpapers, stained glass windows, and gilded ceilings steal the show in refreshment rooms like the Gamble and Morris, while outside, art appreciators are welcome to dine alfresco on a menu of elevated deli selections (think poached salmon fillet, pickled fennel, and dill crème fraiche) in the courtyard garden.
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Café Jacquemart-André, Musée Jacquemart André, Paris
Wander from the trendy shops on the Champs Elysées onto Boulevard Haussman and you’ll cross paths with Musée Jacquemart-André. The 19th-century mansion belonged to Edouard André and Nélie Jacquemart, well-to-do art lovers who, over time, converted their home into a gallery filled with their immense personal collection of frescoes, paintings, and objets d’art from prominent French, Italian, and Dutch artists. Today, the estate’s original dining room has been transformed into a café, and, while time has seen less high-society Parisians and more museum goers, the space retains its ostentatious design. Stop in for light bites like salad and quiche, or go for the pastries from Pâtisserie Stohrer and La Petite Marquise.
Storico, New-York Historical Society & Library, NYC
You’ll find the airy, light-filled Storico tucked into NYC’s oldest museum on the Upper West Side. Inside, bright white built-in cabinets filled with fine china rise up over a wall of yellow banquette seating, while simple gold chandeliers hang from lofty ceilings. Whether you’re stopping by the museum or not, the restaurant is open to all. Drop in for brunch—the menu is split between savory (frittatas; poached eggs) and sweet (bakery bowls; house-made ricotta)—or make a night of it with regional Italian dishes from executive chef Tim Kensett, formerly of London's lauded River Café.
Le Georges, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
The ultra-modern dining room at Le Georges, perched on the top floor of Centre Georges Pompidou, is all floor-to-ceiling windows and angular industrial touches courtesy of architects Dominique Jacob and Brendan McFarlane. Here, stylish crowds sip cocktails on the open-air terrace while diners delicately take down French fusion dishes. From its rooftop vantage point, panoramic views of Paris are a given—the Eiffel Tower seems close enough to grab.
Untitled, The Whitney, NYC
A James Beard Foundation award winner for Outstanding Restaurant Design, Untitled at the Whitney echoes its Meatpacking District address with industrial elements like cement floors and wood furnishings. Located in Renzo Piano’s dramatic, cantilevered building, sandwiched between the Hudson and the High Line, executive chef Michael Anthony (formerly of Gramercy Tavern) delivers seasonal, contemporary American lunch, brunch, and dinner plates in an expansive glass space.
Le Frank, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris
If you’ve seen the exterior of Fondation Louis Vuitton—a pioneering curved glass building with 12 transparent, sail-like structures—then the innovative design at its restaurant, Le Frank, will render pretty tame. That said, under the direction of chef Jean-Louis Nomicos (whose other restaurant, Les Tablettes, has earned itself a Michelin star), the kitchen serves up contemporary French dishes beneath a sea of funky Frank Gehry fish lamps that are sure to wow any taste palate.
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Rijks, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
Bronze, oak, marble, steel, and suede elements from interior designer Paul Linse (the man behind Rotterdam Central Station and Amsterdam's Café-Restaurant de Plantage) come together in the Rijks’ dining room to give the space an exceedingly sleek look. While the kitchen is usually helmed by head chef Joris Bijdendijk, each season the team welcomes an international chef-in-residence to inject the mainly Dutch menu with some foreign flavor.
The Wright, Guggenheim Museum, NYC
The NYC-based design firm Andre Kikoski Architect first broke ground with the Guggenheim’s first restaurant in 2009, and it debuted in conjunction with the museum’s 50th anniversary celebrations. Taking cues from the building’s iconic Frank Lloyd Wright-designed exterior, The Wright is an experiment in curvilinear design, with a wavy white ceiling of layered panels and walnut stacked walls.