Art, History, and More: The Top 15 Museums In The USA

Museums In The USA
| 9 min read

America is one of the biggest nations in the world, and it’s also known for its rich history and diverse culture. Each city has a lot to offer when it comes to epic sightseeing experiences. There are also luxury resorts and capsule hotels in the United States for your accommodation needs. Designated spots are available if you want to try glamping in the United States as well. If you want your trip through this country to be even more memorable, then let this list serve as your guide. For museum lovers or those interested in history and culture, here are the 15 best museums in the USA. Be astounded by the various exhibits and learn something new along the way.

1. Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

Metropolitan Museum of Art - New York City
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Upstateherd used under CC BY-SA 4.0

With over 7 million guests each year, it’s often considered to be one of the world’s most visited museums. The Metropolitan Museum of Art on 5th Avenue opened in 1880, and now, it houses over 2 million American, Asian, Egyptian, European, and Greek artwork from the ancient to the modern period. Be mesmerized by the various paintings and sculptures and get to know more about their significance in the world of art. The museum is also famous for its wide collection of vintage musical instruments, costumes, and weapons from different countries. For more things to do, you can head to the Roof Garden on the southwestern side of the building to have a drink and enjoy the views of Central Park.

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA

Website: Metropolitan Museum of Art

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2. Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under CC BY-SA 3.0

If you’re in Chicago, then make sure you visit this famous museum in Michigan Avenue. The Art Institute of Chicago opened its doors to the public in 1879, and currently attracts around 1 million visitors every year. There are over 300,000 works on display from different styles and time periods and 5 libraries where you can learn more about art and architecture. Some of the most famous paintings here include the American Gothic, Nighthawks, The Old Guitarist, and At the Moulin Rouge. It also has a section dedicated to the masterpieces of Alfred Stieglitz and many other renowned photographers. With the addition of the Modern Wing in 2009, the Art Institute of Chicago was named as the country’s second biggest museum.

Art Institute of Chicago

Address: 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA

Website: Art Institute of Chicago

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3. Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland)

Art museum and lagoon
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Erik Drost used under CC BY 2.0

Cleveland Museum of Art in East Boulevard officially opened on June 1916 “for the benefit the people, forever”. Fast forward to the present, the museum was able to achieve its goal, thanks to its 700,000 or more visitors annually. After a few expansions through the years, it now includes sections showing the beauty of modern architecture. Marvel at its brilliant combination of designs and then, get an up-close look at its collection of over 45,000 artworks. Most of the paintings and sculptures are from Asia and Egypt, but there are a few masterpieces from Europe and America as well. The museum also contains a library where you will be able to see various photographs and around 37,000 books about art and other subjects.

Cleveland Museum of Art

Address: 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Website: Cleveland Museum of Art

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4. Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C.)

02648-National-Air-and-Space-Museum (26696821124)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user xiquinhosilva used under CC BY 2.0

Located on Independence Avenue is a building where you can appreciate and learn everything there is to know about flight. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum opened in 1976, and with 7 and a half million visitors annually, it has been named as the world’s second most visited museum. After admiring its impressive exteriors, come inside to check out its huge aviation-related collection. You will see different types of aircrafts, spacecrafts, and missiles as well as artefacts from various Apollo missions.

If you want a more exciting experience, then head to the state-of-the-art IMAX Theater. It’s your opportunity to explore outer space without leaving planet Earth. The museum is also the location of the Phoebe Waterman Haas Public Observatory, which offers a good look at the stars with its impressive telescopes.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

Address: 11150 East Blvd, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA

Website: Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

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5. National WWII Museum (New Orleans)

My Gal Sal at National WWII Museum in New Orleans, LA
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ronyeh used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

World War II was truly a dark time in history, but it’s important to learn more about it in order to have a deeper appreciation for the present and the heroes who risked their lives. Take a trip to the National WWII Museum on Magazine Street and get an up-close look at its wide collection of artefacts. You will see planes, ships, vehicles, weapons, photographs, and texts, all of which are related to the war. There’s also an interactive exhibit where you can relive the significant moments of the USS Tang submarine’s last mission. Continue to the Solomon Victory Theater to watch the critically-acclaimed 4D film Beyond All Boundaries. Narrated by actor Tom Hanks, the movie aims to educate viewers about the war through actual footages.

National WWII Museum

Address: 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

Website: National WWII Museum

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6. National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gunnar Klack used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The National Gallery of Art is located on Constitution Avenue and has been welcoming visitors since 1937. When you’re standing outside, let the design of its two structures leave you in awe. After marvelling at the neoclassical architecture of the West Building, check out its wide collection of European paintings from the medieval era to the late 19th century. You will see the finest works of some of the most renowned artists such as Leonardo da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, and Johannes Vermeer.

Just like its architectural style, the artworks in the East Building also represents the modern period. Inside, be captivated by the various masterpieces of Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, and many other legends. Another highlight of the museum is the Sculpture Garden on the western side of the West Buildings. Apart from awe-inspiring statues made by beloved artists, you will see different types of Native American plants as well. You can also check out the fountain, which turns into an ice skating rink during winter.

National Gallery of Art

Address: 6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, USA

Website: National Gallery of Art

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7. USS Midway Museum (San Diego)

Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Isaac Crumm used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The USS Midway served as the country’s aircraft carrier from mid to late 20th century, and on June 2002, it officially became a museum situated in North Harbor Drive. Now, the USS Midway Museum is visited by over 1 million people every year, making it one of the most popular museums in the US. Upon arrival, you will have an opportunity to explore the different parts of the warships and experience what it was like during its active days. Providing you with knowledge is the audio guide, which features the voice of one of the vessel’s original crew members. You can also check out the various aircrafts on display, and if you want to try your hand at going up in the air, then head to the flight simulators.

USS Midway Museum

Address: 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA

Website: USS Midway Museum

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8. American Museum of Natural History (New York City)

American Museum of Natural History - Entrance (48269593036)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Ajay Suresh used under CC BY 2.0

Occupying an area of over 2,000,000 square feet (185, 806 square meters), this complex is often considered to be the world’s biggest natural history museum. Visit the American Museum of Natural History in Central Park West and expand your knowledge in its 45 exhibition halls. There are six halls displaying the finest collection of prehistoric artefacts. Check out each one for an up-close look at the Tyrannosaurus Rex and Apatosaurus skeletons and many other dinosaur fossils.

At the Hall of Biodiversity, you will see specimens of over 100 species of plants and animals and an impressive depiction of the Dzanga-Sangha rainforest. It also contains videos about various environmental issues in the world. Another highlight is the area dedicated to different indigenous groups. The dioramas provide an accurate description of the way of life a long time ago. There are plenty more to see in the museum, so expect your trip to be an adventurous one.

American Museum of Natural History

Address: Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, USA

Website: American Museum of Natural History

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9. Chihuly Garden and Glass (Seattle)

Chihuly Garden and Glass 2014 06
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Jllm06 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Chihuly Garden and Glass opened on March of 2012, and it’s located in Harrison Street, Seattle. The museum has 3 main sections, all of which feature some of the best works of acclaimed glass sculptor Dave Chihuly. At the Glasshouse, see the 100-foot-long (30 meters) hanging sculpture up-close. The brilliant mix of yellow, orange, red, and amber is sure to enthral you. Continue to the Galleries area to check out more of the artist’s glass masterpieces. When you reach the Garden, you will fall in love with the combination of artworks and different types of beautiful plants. Secondary sections include a café and a theater showing videos about how Chihuly creates his visual wonders. As for the museum’s environment-friendly design, it was quickly recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council, giving it an LEED silver certification.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Address: 305 Harrison St, Seattle, WA 98109, USA

Website: Chihuly Garden and Glass

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10. Getty Center (Los Angeles)

A portion of the Getty Center in Los Angeles, California, one of two art museums that are part of the Getty Museum LCCN2013631551
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carol M. Highsmith used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

The Getty Center in Los Angeles opened its doors to the public on December of 1997, and since then, it has been welcoming over 1.3 million visitors annually. Situated on the top of the hill, you will certainly love the complex’s intricate modern architecture, which was designed by famous architect Richard Meier. There are also modern sculptures displayed throughout the site. Complete your outdoor experience by passing through the tree-lined walkways of the Central Garden. Different species of fascinating plants are waiting for you.

After a wonderful time outside, head inside the museum to explore its 4 pavilions. The North side features a wide range of statues and decorative arts from the Medieval and Renaissance periods. At the South Pavilion, be captivated by the European paintings dating back to the 18th century. The Eastern side houses 17th-century Baroque artworks while the West consists of Italian decorative masterpieces as well as paintings from the 19th century.

Getty Center

Address: 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, USA

Website: Getty Center

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11. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (Florida)

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gzzz used under CC BY-SA 4.0

There’s a place in Florida that offers an up-close look at space exploration. Take a trip to the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and enjoy its various exciting activities. You can see the Atlantis and Saturn V spacecrafts and find out how they played a significant role in history. There are also areas housing a wide range of rockets, capsules, uniforms, and other items from previous missions. The Heroes and Legends section is where you will find the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. It’s your opportunity to familiarize yourself with some of the most renowned explorers and their achievements. If you want to add an adventurous moment, then try out the Shuttle Launch Experience. Established in 2007, it’s a simulated flight to space with narration from the current administrator of NASA. The museum has a lot more attractions to offer, so don’t forget to visit if you’re in the city.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Address: Kennedy Space Center, SR 405, Titusville, FL 32899, USA

Website: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

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12. Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia)

Philadephia Museum of Art
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user [Unknown] used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Situated at the end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, this famous building is regarded as the third largest art museum in the USA. The stairs leading up to the east entrance also became famous for being the primary location of the epic running scene in the Rocky movies. Visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art and be amazed by its collection of over 240,000 masterpieces from Asia, Europe, and America. Apart from paintings and sculptures, you will also see plenty of vintage clothes, photographs, armors, and decorative arts. The museum is also famous for its Friday night events, which feature live musical performances from different artists and a wide selection of tapas and cocktails.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA

Website: Philadelphia Museum of Art

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13. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, D.C.)

U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Carol M. Highsmith used under PUBLIC DOMAIN

Apart from showing the horrors of the Holocaust, this museum in Raoul Wallenberg Palace also aims to teach you about strengthening the human spirit and the importance of keeping democracy alive. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum opened on April of 1993 and consists of a wide collection of photographs, texts, weapons, clothes, machinery, and many other items related to the holocaust. It also has video testimonies from different survivors. If you want to pay tribute to those who lost their lives, then make sure you light a candle at the Hall of Remembrance. Indeed, a visit to this place is sure to be a moving experience.

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Address: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024, USA

Website: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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14. De Young (San Francisco)

Posted by de Young Museum on Monday, 19 September 2011

If you’re planning to go sightseeing in San Francisco, then make sure you add this museum on Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive on your travel plans. De Young was established in 1895, and currently attracts over 1.5 million guests every year. After marvelling at the museum’s awe-inspiring architecture, head inside to see its huge collection of 17th to 20th century artworks from America, Africa, and Oceania. Apart from paintings and sculptures, De Young houses ceramics, photographs, costumes, and textiles as well. Another highlight is the café, which offers not only tasty beverages, but also some of the most delicious American and European dishes.

De Young

Address: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA

Website: De Young

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15. Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit)

Happy first day of summa! 😎

Posted by Detroit Institute of Arts on Monday, 20 June 2016

Detroit is also no stranger when it comes to museums. With around 670,000 visitors annually, the Detroit Institute of Arts is undoubtedly the most popular in the city. Be fascinated by its Beaux-Arts design and then, head inside to see over 65,000 masterpieces. Some of the highlights here include the works of John James Audubon, Edgar Degas, Paul Cezanne, and Georgia O’Keefe. Aside from various paintings, the museum features awe-inspiring sculptures, furniture, costumes, and decorative arts as well. Most of the items on display here are from the 18th to the 20th century. After exploring, you can have a drink and eat a delicious sandwich at the on-site Kresge Court.

Detroit Institute of Arts

Address: 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA

Website: Detroit Institute of Arts

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Learn, admire, and be inspired at these museums

Whether it’s art, history, science, or nature, you definitely have plenty of options, thanks to this list. Check out some of these museums now and don’t forget to bring your family or friends. While you’re in the country, be sure to visit some of the most beautiful places in the United States!

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Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
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Freelance writer by day, rap artist by night. When he's not making music or joining rap battles, Paolo writes about anything under the sun. Throughout his eight-year experience as a copywriter, he...Read more

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