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The 25 Best Museums in the US (In Our Opinion)

By Alex Moretti


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Believe it or not, there are more than 35,000 museums in the US, according to the latest data from the US government. Every single state has a few, but the larger metropolitan areas are where you’ll find the most museums.

Cities like New York or Washington, DC, are where you have a wide array of choices when it comes to museums. But smaller cities also offer some cultural structures, maybe not as famous as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, for example.

Even if you’re not keen on traveling, you can always search your local area for a museum to visit and a few of them will surely pop up on your search engine.

Guggenheim Museum, New York
Guggenheim Museum, New York / Cody Martin / unsplash.com

But for the purpose of today’s article, we gathered a list of the 25 best museums in the US.

In our opinion, these are not only the most popular, but they also offer visitors a great cultural experience. Countless historical artifacts, natural marvels, not to mention priceless works of art will enrich your visit.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the 25 best museums you can visit in the US today.

25. USS Midway in San Diego

The 25 Best Museums in the US – USS Midway
Photo by PH1 GALEN WALKER / Wikipedia.org

This museum is located on a floating aircraft, right in downtown San Diego. The large space houses 60 exhibits that include virtual reality games, restored aircrafts, and flight simulators.

With activities for the whole family, you can also admire the view of the city’s skyline while on site. Their large interactive collection is what makes it a popular attraction.

24. Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Salvador Dali Museum
Photo by Ebyabe / Wikipedia.org

The largest collection of the artist’s work is located on a small beach town on the west coast of Florida, surprisingly enough. Born from a couple’s private collection, today this museum houses The Hallucinogenic Toreador, one of Dali’s most notable pieces.

The decent collection of drawings, book illustrations, as well as paintings, prints, and photographs by the artist is what inspired the design of the building.

23. Kennedy Space Center in Titusville, Florida

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Kennedy Space Center
Photo by NASA/Cory Huston / Wikipedia.org

Going to space is a dream for many, but unfortunately only a few chosen lucky ones get to make it a reality. But if you just want to satisfy your curiosity, NASA’s Florida center will teach you about the physics launches entail.

This is an interactive museum, which means that if you happen to be visiting during a shuttle launch, you get to experience an incredible occurrence. If not, the two IMAX theaters will get you as close to the real thing as it gets.

22. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C.

The 25 Best Museums in the US – United Sates Holocaust Memorial Museum
Photo by Dsdugan / Wikipedia.org

If you must see one thing while visiting this memorial site, let it be the Hall of Remembrance. The eternal flame that burns continuously is dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust, the worst tragedy that took place in the history of humankind.

It is customary to light a candle in their memory as a way to pay your respects. The permanent collection includes audio and visual recordings of testimonies as well as letters written by the victims.

21. Chihuly Garden and Glass in Seattle

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Chihuly Garden and Glass
Photo by Aschulkins / Wikipedia.org

This unique art institution that is located in the heart of Seattle is dedicated to the glasswork of Dale Chihuly. He is the most recognized artist in this medium, and his Glasshouse is a one-of-a-kind piece of art.

From the outside it looks like an ordinary greenhouse. Once you step inside though, you can see the majestic display of glass on glass that houses hanging glass pieces that reflect on the walls.

20. The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

The 25 Best Museums in the US – The Museum of Fine Arts Houston
Photo by Hequals2henry / Wikipedia.org

Filled with beautiful artworks in many different forms and from all over the world, the Museum of Fine Arts of Houston houses more than 70,000 pieces of art dating from antiquity to the present.

The gallery offers visitors a lovely stroll while admiring its beautiful artworks on display. Masterpieces ranging from sculptures to paintings and other art forms fill this beautiful museum that is worth a visit while in the area.

19. The National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

The 25 Best Museums in the US – The National 911 Memorial and Museum
Photo by NormanB / Wikipedia.org

We can all remember the victims of the brutal attack that took place on that fateful day in September 11, 2001 at the site that serves as a memorial.

Dedicated to both the victims of the World Trade Centre bombing that took place in 1993 as well as the 9/11 tragedy, is an exceptional tourist attraction. The museum is a combination of archeology, art, and history that features rotating exhibits.

18. Detroit Institute of Arts

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Detroit Institute of Art
Photo by Detroit Institute of Arts / Facebook.com

One of the most notable art galleries in the country, the Detroit Art Institute is a classical structure that owns more than 65,000 artworks. They provide a global and international progress of human intelligence dating from the prehistoric times until the present.

Founded in 1885, it is one of the oldest institutions that display paintings which showed Detroit society the influence art has on everyday lives.

17. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis

The 25 Best Museums in the US – The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis
Photo by The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis / Facebook.com

This children’s attraction in Indianapolis is one of the largest children’s museums, possibly in the world. Established back in 1925, the museum includes a few collections that total over 120,000 display pieces.

There are many exhibitions, art lessons, and plays for children that are held each year. The virtual dinosaur habitat, a train, a carousel, and impressive playgrounds allow little people to have a day filled with fun activities.

16. The National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.

The 25 Best Museums in the US – The National Gallery of Art Washington D.C.
Photo by National Gallery of Art / Facebook.com

The National Gallery of Art was established in 1937, and it started from the donation of a patron’s personal collection. Located near Capitol Hill, this expansive gallery houses works of art from European and American artists such as Degas and Monet.

Free to explore, you must stop and admire the Portrait of Ginevra de Benci, the only Da Vinci work on display on the whole continent.

15. Philadelphia Museum of Art

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Philadelphia Museum of Art
Photo by Philadelphia Museum of Art / Facebook.com

A must see when visiting the city of Brotherly Love, the Museum of Art is located in a scenic location. First established in 1876 as the Centennial Exposition of Philadelphia, the main building was finalized in 1928, when it became the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Perched on a hill, its majestic surroundings make it a very attractive tourist destination. The goal of the museum is to unite the community through art appreciation in all its forms.

14. Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Whitney Museum of American Art New York City
Photo by 90 Morton / Facebook.com

The Whitney is one of the most popular museums on the island of Manhattan. Named after socialite Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, the museum was established in 1930. If you want to explore a wide range of outstanding works of art ranging from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, the Whitney is a great place to start.

Displaying the works of more than 3,500 American artists, their collection includes in-depth retrospectives and generational reviews.

13. The Cleveland Museum of Art

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Cleveland Museum of Art
Photo by Erik Drost / Wikipedia.org

Located in charming Cleveland, Ohio, this museum houses numerous collections of artworks, and large galleries where they display their masterpieces. Founded in 1913, its main purpose was to benefit the citizens of the city forever.

While upholding high standards of academic, artistic, and educational expectations, the museum aspires to engage a wide audience. They sponsor a number of programs that aim at demonstrating the significance art plays in our contemporary culture.

12. The Museum of Modern Art in New York City

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Museum of Modern Art New York City
Photo by Jim.henderson / Wikipedia.org

This lovely museum located in the heart of Manhattan played a significant role in collecting and developing modern art, thus making it one of the most influential museums that focus on contemporary works.

With a comprehensive collection that extends from the late 19th century European and American arts, you will find graphic art, paintings, as well as sculptures displayed. It is one of the first museums in the US that included industrial pieces such as architectural designs.

11. National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.

The 25 Best Museums in the US – National Portrait Gallery Washington D.C.
Photo by Acroterion / Wikipedia.org

Part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum located in the nation’s capital, the National Portrait Gallery offers hours of great art admiration. Featuring portraits of famous Americans that made a mark in the country’s history, the curated collection is a history buff’s dream come true.

The rooms and hallways alike are filled with an abundance of carefully chosen portraits, which makes this museum one of the best in the country.

10. National WWII Museum in New Orleans

The 25 Best Museums in the US – National WWII Museum in New Orleans
Photo by omnihotels.com

This is a great place for history buffs to learn about how the second world war shaped American culture. The National WWII Museum in New Orleans can be reached by a train car that takes you to the entrance, so you’ll feel as if you’re traveling back in time.

Marvel at tanks and boats that were used during the war, and have conversations with veterans of the war that are now volunteering at the museum.

9. American Museum of Natural History in New York City

The 25 Best Museums in the US – American Museum of Natural History New York City
Photo by Blake Patterson / Wikipedia.org

Located in Manhattan, NY, more precisely the Upper West Side, this site has been a historical landmark and a learning center for about half a century. With over 32 million artifacts and specimens to discover, visitors can spend a few hours wandering through the different areas of this large building.

The replicated creatures such as dinosaurs, as well as the butterfly sanctuary will mesmerize both young and old.

8. National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C.

The 25 Best Museums in the US – National Museum of African American History and Culture Washington
The exterior of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

The newest addition to the Smithsonian, this acclaimed museum gained in popularity as one of the most visited museums in the country since it opened its doors in 2016. The collection of artworks is meant to educate visitors on the history of the Civil Rights Movement that followed a dark period in American history.

Explore a collection of Harriet Tubman’s personal items, including presents given to her by Queen Victoria. She was the courageous woman who helped many slaves gain their freedom.

7. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum New York
Photo by Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum / Facebook.com

Another famous and extremely beautiful landmark in the city of New York, the Guggenheim, allows its visitors to enjoy exploring artworks in this outstanding establishment. Abstract painter Solomon R. Guggenheim created this museum in 1939 by displaying some of his works.

Before taking the famous artist’s name, the Guggenheim was known as the Museum of Non-Objective Painting. The original artworks that were displayed have been restored beautifully.

6. National History Museum of Los Angeles County

The 25 Best Museums in the US – National History Museum Los Angeles County
Photo by Allie_Caulfield / Wikipedia.org

The museum is filled with over 35 million artifacts and specimens that cover over 4.5 billion years of history. This special center has quite a few different exhibits, a dinosaur lab, nature gardens, and a 3D theater on site. Culture, nature, and science are offered for a truly unique experience that will please all visitors.

Whether bugs or fossils are what appeal to you, there’s a space you can visit. Are you more into minerals and gems? There’s a hall that stores those as well. You’ll surely find something to capture your interest.

5. The Getty Center in Los Angeles

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Getty Center Los Angeles
Photo by Getty / Facebook.com

This museum is a piece of modern art in itself, plus it is one of the best museums you will find on the West Coast. The undulating structure designed by Richer Meier is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens. Some of the museum’s best attractions are Rembrandt’s Old Man in Military Costume and Van Gogh’s Irises.

Their four pavilions display a large selection of modern art, plus classics dating from the 1400s until today. Their photography displays are also something to keep in mind when visiting, as they are truly spectacular.

4. Museum of Fine Arts in Boston

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Museum of Fine Arts Boston
Photo by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston / Facebook.com

Situated in Boston, the Museum of Fine Arts is one of the most spectacular art museums in the country. With more than 450,000 works of fine art being exhibited at any time, there is plenty for you to admire while visiting.

As the collection is continuously growing, the museum often opens new gallery wings in order to be able to show off their works. Throughout the decades, the 1870 establishment underwent several restaurations and expansions.

3. The Art Institute of Chicago

The 25 Best Museums in the US – The Art Institute Chicago
Photo by The Art Institute of Chicago / Facebook.com

The vibrant Windy City offers a few of the greatest museums in the country. The Art Institute of Chicago captures the art scene that is bustling in the city. One of the largest museums in the country at 280,000 square feet, only the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City surpasses it.

Their permanent collection is worth a detour, with works from Andy Wrahol, Edward Hopper, and Georges Serurat. Terzo Piano, the restaurant located on the third floor, offers you great views of Millennium Park, as well as a scrumptious meal.

2. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C.

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum Washington D.C.
Photo by National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution / Facebook.com

With more than 8 million visitors annually, the Smithsonian is easily the most visited museum in the country. Divided into two facilities, this revered center is totally worth a visit if you’re in the area.

The museum’s extensive permanent collection is located in the America by Air gallery, while the Wright Brothers & the Invention of the Aerial Age houses the Wright Flyer Exhibit.

You want to be in the same room as a piece from the Moon? Then you should head over to the Boeing Milestones of Flight Hall and be ready to be mesmerized.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

The 25 Best Museums in the US – Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City
Photo by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York / Facebook.com

Every history and art lover in the world should have this incredible center for the arts on their bucket list. Spanning at over 630,000 square feet, The Met is the largest art museum in the country, and one of the largest in the world. But it doesn’t only offer quantity. The quality of their art works is hard to beat.

Their walls are covered with over 2 million of the best works and collections you will feast your eyes on. Ancient Roman Sculptures, an Egyptian Temple, as well as masterpieces by famous painters such as Monet and Rembrant are just some of their most notable oeuvres d’art.

Best Museums in the US
The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Photo by rmbarricarte / stock.adobe.com

We believe these are the 25 best museums in the US. Do you agree, or do you think we should have included some other important ones that we overlooked?

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About Alex Moretti

Adventure junkie, content creator and storyteller, Alex left his nine-to-five career lifestyle to become a full time world traveler. He started his journey to the unknown 5 years ago and visited more than 30 countries and 400 cities ever since. Learn more about Placeaholic's Editorial Process.

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