It took 10 years and cost some €150 million, but for art lovers, Italy's first national museum devoted to contemporary art and architecture was worth it. The building alone impresses, as it should: the design, by Anglo-Iraqi starchitect Zaha Hadid, triumphed over 272 other contest entries. The building plays with lots of natural light, curving and angular lines, and big open spaces, all meant to question the division between "within" and "without" (think glass ceilings
and steel staircases that twist through the air). While not every critic adored it at its 2010 unveiling, it's hard not to feel delighted by the surprisingly playful space.
The MAXXI hosts temporary exhibits on art, architecture, film, and more. Past shows have included a retrospective on top Arte Povera artist Michelangelo Pistoletto and an exhibit of works by architect and engineer Pietro Nervi. From the permanent collection, rotated through the museum, more than 350 works represent artists including Andy Warhol, Francesco Clemente, and Gerhard Richter.