A unique venue will make your wedding day amazing – equal to the beautiful relationship you will celebrate and cement on that special day. As such, consider holding your nuptials amid the breathtaking architectural features and priceless works of art at a museum.
Incorporating the museum’s thoughtfully designed exhibits will create a wonderful backdrop for photographs. Many museums also have beautiful outside areas as well.
An additional bonus is that museum staffers tend to provide expert customer service, and are knowledgeable about the art. They typically work with licensed and dependable wedding professionals, and have their own in-house security personnel.
Also among the benefits is that your guests will have an up close and personal experience of the museum, all while enjoying cocktails and a memorable picture-perfect ceremony, followed by dining, music and dancing.
Here are a few outstanding examples of landmark East Coast museums to check out for your special day.
American Visionary Art Museum | Baltimore, Maryland
Intuitive artwork fills the American Visionary Art Museum’s historic and award-winning buildings and sculpture plazas, offering multiple spaces ideal for weddings of various sizes.
The Jim Rouse Visionary Center’s third-floor banquet room features maple floors, exposed brick, and a whiskey barrel wall. Its bird’s-nest balcony has views of Federal Hill Park and the Baltimore skyline. The space can accommodate up to 250 guests for cocktails, dinner and dancing; 400 for a seated dinner, or 490 for a cocktail-style event. The first-floor Visionary Village art gallery can accommodate up to 250 for a ceremony or up to 400 for a cocktail hour before the main event in the banquet room.
The Barn, an open-air, indoor/outdoor exposed-brick structure with stunning artwork on its high ceiling, is adjacent to a covered flagstone patio and native wildflower garden with a driftwood meditation chapel. The space can accommodate up to 130, with the ceremony and cocktails held in the garden and patio. Combine The Barn with one of the other spaces for a ceremony or cocktail site for up to 250 or reception for up to 130.
A cafe, on the main museum building’s third floor, is ideal for smaller weddings. The space has a built-in copper-backed bar, dark hardwood tables, and lush green plants throughout. Its covered rear terrace overlooks Federal Hill Park and the museum campus. The cafe can accommodate up to 50 seated or 110 cocktail-style. Photo-perfect ceremonies may take place on the terrace or on the marble spiral staircase just outside the cafe entrance.
Brooklyn Museum | New York
Two very different spaces can be the site of a beautiful wedding at the Brooklyn Museum, New York City’s third-largest museum in physical size, with an art collection of some 500,000 objects.
“Weddings at the Brooklyn Museum are nothing short of spectacular,” said Great Performances event director Morgan Golumbuk, who coordinates events at the museum. “Whether saying ‘I do’ under the skylight in the Beaux-Arts Court, holding cocktail hour in the world-renowned Egyptian Galleries (which houses one of the world’s top collections of Egyptian artifacts), or dancing through the night under the lLobby’s 18-foot-high KAWS sculpture, couples find endless ways to make the timeless space their own.”
Golumbuk added that, “on top of everything that makes Brooklyn Museum unique, the landmark building is celebrating its 200-year anniversary in 2023, making it one of the country’s oldest and largest art museums.”
Smithsonian Institution | Washington, D.C.
The nation’s capital is home to the Smithsonian, the world’s largest museum complex with about 155 million artifacts and specimens.
Scenarios at The National Museum of Natural History include a seated dinner and dancing with a live band for 150; a seated dinner and dancing with a DJ; a buffet dinner with full seating and dancing with a DJ for 200; or a standing cocktail reception for 400.
The picturesque Smithsonian Castle, rich in history and grandeur, is located on the National Mall. An elegant landmark, it includes three indoor spaces and an adjoining garden for outdoor evening events. The Commons features a soaring vaulted ceiling, neo-gothic details, and exhibition cases of artifacts from many of the Smithsonian’s museums and research centers. Its capacity is 120 seated, 150 standing. Schermer Hall, an intimate, cloister-like setting ideal for small dinners or pre-dinner cocktails, accommodates 40 seated, 75 standing. The larger-capacity Great Hall is a grand two-story space highlighted by tall windows and towering arched columns topped with ornate capitals. Just outside the Castle’s south door, the formal Enid A. Haupt Garden, with seasonal plantings along its paths and in a central parterre, can seat 130, or 150 standing.
Among the other Smithsonian venues available for weddings are the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian American Art Museum (including the Renwick Gallery), the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Air and Space Museum Udvar Hazy Center, which is in Virginia.
Rodin Museum | Pennsylvania
A hidden oasis in the city of Philadelphia, the Rodin Museum is an ideal spot for vows, toasts, and other memorable moments. Auguste Rodin’s classic sculpture, “The Thinker,” welcomes guests at the entrance to the enchanting Dorrance H. Hamilton Garden. The cast of the 1902-1904 version was installed for the 1929 opening of the museum in front of a façade that replicates the one at Meudon, in the southwestern suburbs of Paris; the sculpture and façade match the arrangement at Rodin’s tomb. A reception in the galleries, which contain one of the largest public collections of Rodin’s work outside Paris, or in the garden near a reflecting pool can accommodate 60 seated or 125 standing,
Mattatuck Museum | Connecticut
The Mattatuck Museum, in the center of Waterbury, offers options that make it a perfect wedding destination. Its recent renovation links the intricately detailed former Masonic temple to a contemporary architectural design.
The museum’s spacious and classically detailed art galleries, which display work by American masters, make a wonderful backdrop for wedding photos, and guests will enjoy viewing the collections during the event. Among the options are the Monteiro Family Community Gallery, a changing exhibition space ideal for a reception or ceremony for 60, or a banquet for 30. Surrounded by artifacts and objects from the region’s history, the History Exhibit provides an excellent conversation piece for a 75-person reception or ceremony, or a 40-person banquet.
For larger celebrations, the Performing Arts Center’s third-floor space offers lovely views of Waterbury Green as well as a brand-new sophisticated sound and audiovisual system, and historic charm in a theatrical setting of rich mahogany paneling. It can seat 180, or accommodate 200 for a ceremony or cocktail-style reception.
On the museum’s main floor, the foyer has large windows overlooking the Green, newly polished concrete floors, and an upgraded sound system. The space can accommodate a reception for 180 or a ceremony for 100. The Rooftop Terrace also overlooks the Green, offering a modern ambiance of urban sophistication. Its capacity is 200 for a reception or ceremony, 150 for a banquet.
By Ellyn Wexler