There are all sorts of ways you can combine your interests in the arts with travelling. From taking an art course in Italy, to exploring the great art works in Paris, to flying off to some far off land with just a sketch book and your charcoals.
Your gap year is the perfect time to get back to basics, unplug from your day to day world and let yourself be creatively inspired. There are millions of brilliant art galleries around the world – treat them all equally. You’re just as likely to be moved by a local exhibiton by the kids in Bangkok as witnessing Picasso’s Guernica in Spain. Keep your mind and heart open and it’s likely you’ll be witness to more types of art than you ever thought possible.
All the great creatives and artists travelled. You can follow in the footsteps of great artists, musicians and writers round single cities, whole countries or even the entire world - make sure to soak up every experience and let all your senses take over.
Art Courses Abroad
It’s easy to model your gap year on your creative passion with all the art courses available around the world. One of the top choices for budding artists is to go to Italy and study the works from the renaissance period and the Classical times. With the support of dynamic teachers who are genuinely passionate about their subject your art skills can thrive. It’s a great option if you’re thinking of carrying on your art skills at university, or you just want some time out from regular life to focus on your artistry.
Generally the art courses will also include accommodation and food, so once you’ve paid up front you don’t have too much more to worry about. You can just relax and let the creative juices flow out of you.
Art courses are also a great idea for anyone travelling solo for the first time. You can arrive in a destination and know that your first few weeks are taken care of. Whether you’re going on a short gap or plan to be away for longer – there’s an art course the perfect length for you.
Doing an art course abroad will give you the one up over potential other candidates when it comes to getting into your university of choice. Tutors are young and fun and have the knowledge to add extra depth to the course and destination you choose to focus on. You’ll learn so much more than if you tried to undertake the trip yourself.
No previous knowledge is needed for these courses, just a strong interest in art and beauty!
Popular Art Destinations
Thanks to the wealth of art galleries and museums in Paris, including the Louvre – home to Mona Lisa and an estimated 380,000 objects and 35,000 works of art – France makes our list of the top 10 arty destinations around the world. Visitors to France can experience impressionist and post-impressionist French art at the Musee d'Orsay, the surrealist movement at Espace Dali or view modern works by artists like Pablo Picasso at the Musee d'Art Moderne.
You need to see the Goreme Open Air Museum in Turkey to believe it. Back in the olden days – sometime between the 9th and 11th centuries – monks carved more than 30 cave churches and chapels into the huge rocks in Goreme. Inside they painted Byzantine-era frescoes that remain today, showing off an incredible feat of artistry and skill.
Museum Mile in NYC has eight museums planted in quick succession. Visit when the Museum Mile Festival is on and all the galleries are free, if you want to save a few dollars. Check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art to find incredible works from the ancient Greek and Roman periods, and the Islamic world too. The Museum of Modern Art is another popular spot in NYC for art lovers – including Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. If you have time, take a walk around the Storm King Art Centre in upstate New York too – the 500-acre site is home to more than 100 carefully placed sculptures.
Book your tickets as soon as you know you’re going – the Vatican City is one difficult place to get in to. Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel back in 1508 and it still remains one of the most influential works in fresco art history. You’ll find it in the Vatican City, along with the other 13 Vatican Museums – check out the guards’ uniform in there too, pretty funny, if you’re in a silly mood.
Nearby Italy (just outside the Vatican City walls) is home to the arty cities of Milan, Florence and Rome. The Uffizi Gallery in Florence is one of the oldest art museums in the Western world – it was created back in 1560. From palaces to monuments to religious buildings, the city itself is a giant museum of master architectural work that you will be rushing to get your sketchpad out to draw. As for Milan, you need to check out Da Vinci’s mural of the Last Supper adorning the walls in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie as well as the view from up the city’s Duomo. As for Rome, with the Pantheon and the Coliseum – how much more persuasion do you need?
From the Taj Mahal to the Lakshmana Temple – there’s been some incredible architects showing their skills in India over the years. The latter was built more than 1000 years ago and features carvings depicting various erotic scenes in intricate detail, while the Taj Mahal was built as a token of love between 1632 and 1653. The people of India are big on their folk art, on textiles, henna and contemporary art too. In Mumbai make sure to check the Volte Gallery, the Chemould Prescott Road Gallery and Project 88 to get an idea of the rich diversity in art being created there.
Often cited as one of the most picturesque cities in the world, St Petersburg is awesome. The State Hermitage Museum contains over 3 million pieces – including works of art by Leonardo Da Vinci, Pablo Picasso and Nicolas Poussin. Make sure to check out the Museum of Non-Conformist Art – filled with works created under the Soviet Union time. Just walking around and in between the buildings is sure to give you some inspiration for your art works, whether you decide to explore inside them or not.
Always good to have a destination from Asia on the list, seeing as the art there is beautiful yet in many nations not quite so structured as Japan. The art scene in Tokyo is definitely diverse. There are more than 240 museums in the city – including the Tokyo Fuji Art Museum and the Nerima Art Museum – plus a huge array of shrines and temples for you to ogle and photograph. There are many art fairs here so keep your ear to the ground to seek them out – there’s definitely a thriving scene when it comes to art in Tokyo.