* Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and book something (there is never any extra cost to you for using these links).
Sometimes taking the much-beaten path is perhaps the best way for enlightenment. And so here’s a list of the 31 most visited museums in the USA, that vastly enlighten on many fronts than one. Science, History, Math, and Arts, basically ever stream has a beautiful abundance of knowledge and data that are congregated at one place for you to see and learn. These museums are beyond average and they mean serious stuff! So check them out as you get ready for some major edification and along with it come marvelous overwhelming moments!
Spread across the nation, most of the popular ones lie in the hotspot regions of Washington, New York, and Illinois and the Smithsonian Institution parents most of them. While many have undertaken the task of listing the best museums in the United States, this list will tell you about the most visited museums in the country. Some of these are not just the most visited, but also the largest, most intriguing and informative museums in America. America houses a museum for everyone.
Given below are the most visited Museums in USA:
1. National Museum of Natural History - Washington, DC
National Museum of Natural History it is one of the most visited museums all over the world. Administered by the Smithsonian Institution, it was established way back in 1910. The museum collection of more than 127 million artifacts and specimens are organized in different sections. From culture to gemology, this museum will surprise you with the wide array of displays here. Spread across a whopping 1.5 million square feet, this museum dedicated to stirring curiosity, discovery, and learning about the natural world through its supreme research, collections, exhibitions, and education outreach programs.
What you must look out for here? These primarily include Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals, Hall of Human Origins, Dinosaurs/Hall of Paleobiology, Hall of Mammals, Insect Zoo, and many others. 30 million insects carefully pinned into tiny boxes, 4 million plants pressed onto sheets of paper in the Museum’s herbarium, 7 million fish in liquid-filled jars, and 2 million cultural artifacts. One of the main features of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History is that the entrance is absolutely free.
Address - 10th St. & Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20560, United States, Washington D. C.
Popular for - Fossil skeletons of dinosaurs, Star of Asia Sapphire, Hope Diamond, rock and ore specimens
Established in 1929, the Museum of Modern Art in New York is now known as one of the largest modern art museums in the world. With a collection of over 200,000 works of modern and contemporary art, it proves to be an influential modern art museum. These exhibits cover a variety of fields including architecture and design, photography, drawing, and painting, film, print, and many others. Pablo Picasso, Vincent van Gogh, Francis Bacon, Umberto Boccioni, and Frida Kahlo are a few of the popular artists whose work you can view at the Museum of Modern Art.
Address - 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019, USA
Popular for - Paintings by Vincent van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Henri Rousseau
Brooklyn Museum of art is spread over 12 acres and ranks on top of the list of largest art museums in the USA. Its collection of 1.5 million artworks includes Egyptian antiquities that date back to 3,000 years as well as the art of America, Africa, and Japan, to name a few. Its ancient, as well as modern collection art, is a pride possession and an inspiring thing to see for art-lovers. Its Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is working towards creating awareness about the feminist contribution to the art.
Address - 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238, USA
Popular for - Its ‘Memorial Sculpture Garden’ that combines art with architecture.
National September 11 Memorial & Museum located in the New York City commemorates the September 11, 2001, new york terrorist attack. The Museum features exhibits that explore the implications, causes and significance of the 9/11 NY attacks. The exhibits include an ever-growing collection of photos, videos, and artifacts related to the attacks. The National 9-11 Memorial Museum is one of the most unique museums in the United States. The Memorial Park just outside the museum is also worth visiting.
Address - 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007, USA
Popular for - Memorial Park, Ground Zero
Ticket price - USD 24
Hours - 7.30 am - 9 pm
5. California Academy of Sciences - San Francisco, California
California Academy of Sciences is one of the must-visit natural history museum in San Francisco, located at the Golden Gate Park, SF. Being home to more than 26 million specimens, this oldest museum in California has become the largest natural history museum in the world. The penguin feeding, nightlife tours, and activities like sleepover make it a unique museum to visit. Along with these, the museum also conducts innovative programs in scientific research and education. Appreciate the living green roof as it was planted with more than 1.7 million plants that are found in California.
The museum is sheer brilliance with the high-quality knowledge that is actually easy to understand. The highlight of the museum are the many butterflies in the rainforest, flapping away around you! Don’t miss the very informative earthquake exhibit as well. This is the only museum that has an aquarium, planetarium, and a natural history museum in one place!
Address - 55 Music Concourse Dr, San Francisco, CA 94118, USA
Popular for - Behind-the-scenes tours that let you explore the artifacts that are not on display.
Ticket price - USD 39.95
Hours - 9.30 am - 5 pm
6. Emp Museum (Museum of Pop Culture) - Experience the journey of Music
The Museum of Pop Culture was known as the EMP Museum in the past. Founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and dedicated to contemporary popular culture, this is one of the unique museums in the USA that are a must visit. You would be amazed by its interactive activity centers, educational resources, and sound sculptures along with its touring exhibits. Its different themed galleries will keep you engaged for hours together. Visiting this museum is a captivating experience altogether.
Address - 325 5th Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109, USA
Popular for - Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Film Festival organized every winter, contemporary pop culture
National Air and Space Museum is another museum administered by the Smithsonian Institution. Originally called as the National Air Museum, it was established in 1946. The museum exhibits thousands of historic photographs and materials while exhibiting a collection of more than 60,000 air and space objects. Apollo 11, Human Spaceflight, Aircraft, and Aerial Cameras are a few of the most popular collections of the National Air and Space Museum.
A lunar rock you can touch is one the main attraction of this place that draws visitors here. Tours and educational activities for both children and adults give detailed information on all the articles on display. This larger than life experience will keep you wanting more of the aviation aircrafts and space phenomena.
Address - 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
Popular for - Exhibition showing how the Wright brothers invented the first plane
Ticket price - Free
Hours - 10 am - 5:30 pm
8. Museum of Science and Industry - Illinois, Chicago
The Museum of Science and Industry provides a unique experience inspiring and motivating children in achieving their fullest potential of science. Remarkably, the museum’s existence was a result of the founder, Julius Rosenwald’s child’s enthrallment at an interactive museum display, which influenced Julius to share this experience with Chicago. Having hosted more than an enormous 180 million visitors, this undoubtedly is one of the most visited museums in the USA.
The events and exhibitions provide a uniquely memorable experience. All in all, a wholesome experience of natural history, cultural history, savvy science, art, the aquatic world, and other planets, is what you can expect at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Address - 5700 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60637, United States
Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET) or The MET as it is popularly known, was established in 1870. It is one of the most visited art museums in the entire world, drawing millions of visitors every year. What you will find over here is a permanent collection of more than 2 million artworks, it boasts to be on of the largest art museums in the United States. Right from ancient Egypt, Europe’s classics to American, modern work, classical antiquity, and contemporary art, The MET exhibits a wide range covering architecture, armory, musical instruments, costumes, and much more.
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will be able to take a glimpse at 5,000 years of art from all over the world. Met museum also offers online edification. This is one place where art comes alive right before your eyes. Its events and exhibitions reveal some great insights into unexpected connections across time and various cultures.
Address - 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028, USA
Popular for - Egyptian Art, Greek and Roman Art, and the Robert Lehman Collection
Ticket price - USD 25
Hours - 10 am - 5:30 pm
10. American Museum of Natural History - New York, NY
American Museum of Natural History is one of the largest museums in the world, located in Manhattan’s Upper West Side. The American Museum of Natural History houses 28 interconnected buildings and 45 permanent exhibition halls. These halls include Akeley Hall of African Mammals, Hall of Asian Mammals, Hall of Birds of the World, Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, a biodiversity, environmental halls and the Human Origins Halls are some of the many popular exhibitions in the museum.
The 33 million specimens of plants, fossils, rocks, minerals, and human cultural artifacts attract millions of tourists every year. The dinosaur skeletons and the Dzanga- Sangha Rainforest are the most intriguing features here. This is also one of the world’s preeminent scientific and cultural institutions, the museum constantly thrives to advance in its global mission to discover, interpret, and disseminate information about literally everything that the universe is made up of. Renowned for spectacular exhibitions and scientific collections, this serves as a field guide to the entire planet and present a panorama of the world's cultures.
Address - Central Park West & 79th St, New York, NY 10024, United States
Another one from the Smithsonian Institute, the National Museum of American History too attracts millions of visitors to it yearly. This is a free museum, where entrance fees are not applicable and everything else is free too. Featuring varied factors of the American history, the museum includes showcases of social, political, cultural scientific, and military history events. The unmatched assortments, severe research, and dynamic civic outreach give an upper hand experience at this museum. Staying true to its name the NMAH endeavors to help people understand the past in order to make sense of the present and shape a more humane future.
Address - 1300 Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20560, USA
Popular for - Star-Spangled Banner Flag, The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden, The First Ladies
National Gallery of Art is amongst the most visited art museums in the world, established in 1937. Collection of the gallery includes sculptures, paintings, medals, and drawings ranging from the Middle Ages to present. The Gallery houses the only painting of Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas. The National Gallery of Art is divided into two parts namely the West Building and East Building and it also has a Sculpture Garden. Portrait of a Lady, Cowper Madonna, the Plum is some of the most significant paintings of the collection.
Bringing an international flair to the museum are the frequent visiting exhibitions. The museum houses work of da Vinci, Jackson Pollock, Monet, Manet amongst many other notable artists. The museum too is free of charge. The east building and the west building form the main portions of the gallery. A sculpture garden too is a must visit when you come here. The museum also holds film screenings and informative Sunday lectures.
Address - 6th & Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565, United States
Popular for: The painting of ‘Luncheon of the Boating Party’
Ticket price - Free
Hours - 10 am - 5 pm
13. Cable Car Museum - Everything about the historic transportation
San Francisco Cable Car Museum is one of the interesting museums that you can visit without paying an entry fee. Established in 1974, this place is dedicated to the historic San Francisco cable car system. Though the car depot on the premises of the museum is not open to the public, there are two galleries that overlook the working process. Different mechanical devices that explain the working of cable cars can also be seen here.
Address - 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108, 94108, United States
Popular for - Three antique cable cars that date back to the 1870s.
John F. Kennedy Space Center is known as NASA’s primary launch center of human spaceflight and has been in operation since 1962. The Kennedy Space Center visitor complex is one of the best places to explore the extraterrestrial space. The visitor complex is sectioned into Mission Zones that take you along the timeline of space exploration. These mission zones are named as ‘Heroes & Legends’, ‘Behind the Gates’, ‘Race to the Moon’, Shuttle: A Ship Like No Other’, and ‘NASA Now + Next’.Opt for the bus tour and you will be taken to all the launch pads.
Address - Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899, United States, Orlando
Popular for - Shuttle launch experience, Space Shuttle Atlantis, and Journey to Mars
The National WWII Museum is one of the ideal places where you will get to learn about the American experience in the Second World War. With an extensive collection of more than half a million artifacts, this World war 2 museum makes sure that visitors have a fascinating experience. Though not all the artifacts are on display, the ones that you can see hold a significant place. Do not forget to watch the 4-D award-winning film - Beyond All Boundaries.
Address - 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Popular for - Digital collection of photographs and oral history.
Ticket price - USD 28
Hours - 9 am - 5 pm
16. Houston Museum Of Natural Science - Great place for all age groups
Houston Museum of Natural Science is one of the most popular museums in the USA with more than 2 million visitors every year. It has a huge planetarium and a butterfly center on the premises along with numerous permanent as well as temporary exhibits. The Wortham Giant Screen Theatre is also a major point of interest here. The exhibits of gems, minerals, taxidermied animals, and recreation of Egyptian mummies and temples make it an interesting place to explore.
Address - 5555 Hermann Park Dr, Houston, TX 77030, USA
Popular for - Around 60 dinosaur skeleton mounds including 3 different Tyrannosaurus rex.
The Dinosaur Museum located in South Dakota is unique because it exhibits life-size dinosaurs instead of the skeletons and pictures. The 40 feet tall T-Rex in the museum is the most popular point of interest there. You can also enjoy playing mini golf and watching a movie inside the museum. The mirror maze housed by the museum is an intriguing and interesting feature. The Dinosaur Museum, despite being small is a very offbeat and informative museum.
Address - 8973 US-16, Rapid City, SD 57702, USA
Popular for - Mirror Maze
Ticket price - USD 10
Hours - 10 am - 6 pm
18. Field Museum of Natural History - Illinois, Chicago
Highly passionate about what they do the Field Museum of Natural History is truly one of its kind. Inspiring curiosity about life on Earth, the FMNH explores the world’s existence so that it can become a better place to live in. With highly interesting exhibitions, collections, and research on the story of life on Earth and scientific mysteries respectively, the science here translates into action for a healthy planet. Anyone who comes to Chicago has to visit this museum. With a lot to see, a day’s tour is ideal. A great place for kids and adults alike. The German U-boat especially is one of the most popular attractions of this museum.
Address - 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL 60605, United States
Popular for - Sue the T. Rex, Ancient Egypt, Ancient Americas
At The Art Institute of Chicago is among the largest museums in the United States. The museum has a permanent collection of 300,000 artworks. The collection includes exhibits related to the Asian Art, American Art, European Decorative Arts, ancient as well as modern creations, Contemporary Arts and European Painting and Sculpture. Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago is named as world’s best museum by leading travel forums. The Ancient and Byzantine section includes a mummy and mummy case of the Paankhenamun. Subjective talks, exhibitions, and events too are held here. The non-art lovers too are ought to fall in love with this place. You can even click pictures of most of the exhibits here (without flash). The building is huge with lots of floors and aisles, so you may definitely need to ask for directions.
Address - 111 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60603, USA
J. Paul Getty Museum is a combination of two different locations - Getty Center and Getty Villa. Getty Center, the primary museum, focuses on Western art whereas Getty Villa, the secondary campus, is home to artworks from ancient Rome and Greece. The visual arts collected here are represented in a manner that will be understanding and enjoyable. All the works of art here, are of outstanding quality and historical importance. With art gathered from all corners of the world, the European paintings, drawings, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts, especially are to keep a lookout for. The total number of arts build up to a huge number of 44,000 works here. Home to some of the best artwork in the world. With a gift shop and a cafe on the premises, it makes sure that you have a great time exploring different exhibits. As this center is located on the hilltop, you can catch the spectacular views of Los Angeles from this modern structure. Definitely the best museum in USA for art lovers.
Address - 1200 Getty Center Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90049, United States
Popular for - The Central Garden which is a piece of art in itself.
Museum of Science Boston is a unique place to visit as along with science exhibits, it also has an indoor zoo. Located Science Park, on the Charles River opposite of North Point Park. the leads with a mission to change the nation’s relationship with science and technology. It houses more than 700 interactive exhibits and around 100 different animals. From butterfly gardens to dinosaur fossils and from optical illusions to the theater of electricity, you will get to see everything here. It has the largest domed IMAX screen in the region that allows visitors to have a fascinating experience of film watching. A theatre showing a short film about the polar continents is quite gripping too. History, arts, geography all academic subjects can be studied here. Perfect to get your children studying even on a holiday! Other than the exhibits, there are some pretty good activities too that can make you and the kids entertained. Not many are fond of the planetarium here, but the 4D theatre steals the show!
Address - 1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114, USA
Popular for - Hall of Human Life, Dinosaurs, Butterfly Garden, Thrill Ride 360°
Ticket price - USD 29
Hours - 9 am - 5 pm
22. California Science Center- A fun learning experience
The California Science Center was established in 1951 and is also known as the largest science museum in the West Coast. Permanent exhibits in the museum include Ecosystems, Creative World, World of Life, Air and Space Exhibits and Samuel Oschin Pavilion. The King Tut, Goose Bumps and Mission 26 are special exhibitions held in the museum. The California Science Center also offers audio tours of the museum for the visually impaired. The IMAX theater in the museum is a must visit.
Address - 700 Exposition Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90037, USA
Popular for - King Tut Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh
The USS Midway Museum is home to the popular aircraft carrier ‘Midway’. It was America’s longest-serving carrier in the 20th century. The USS Midway Museum is an interactive museum and visiting it is an adventurous experience. The museum houses 29 restored aircrafts. It also has a flight deck and flight simulators which are major points of interest in the museum. The museum also offers the visitors with a self-guided audio tour which guides you through the history of the Midway.
Address - 910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Popular for - Aircraft carrier- Midway
Ticket price - USD 21
Hours - 10 am - 5 pm
24. USS Pampanito-A submarine converted into museum
The USS Pampanito is a Balao class submarine and has completed six war patrols. It has also been used to serve as the Naval Reserve Training Ship from 1960 to 1971. The ship has been listed under the National Register of Historic Places and is now operated as a museum. The radio room of the USS Pampanito Amateur Radio Club has been brought to life in the museum. A broom resides on the mast of the ship which indicates its patrol that clean swept the enemies.
Address - Pier 45, Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco, CA 94133, United States
Popular for - Audio tour of the museum
Ticket price - USD 20
Hours - 9 am - 6 pm
25. Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum-All about petroleum
The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is dedicated to the offshore oil and gas industry. The exhibits in the museum include Offshore Drilling, a behind-the-scenes journey of the process of extracting oil. The Hall of Fame in the museum recognizes the famous personalities related to this field. The Pipe Deck and Drill Floor are other exhibits in the museum. The Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum is one of the most unique petroleum museums in the United States.
Address - 2002 Wharf Rd, Galveston, TX 77550, USA
Popular for - Hall of Fame
Ticket price - USD 10
Hours - 10 am - 5 pm
26. American Jazz Museum-Best place to know about jazz
The American Jazz Museum located in the historic city of Kansas preserves the iconic and opulent jazz culture of America. It features exhibits on Charlie Parker, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and Duke Ellington. The museum also houses an exhibit of a working jazz club which resembles a 1930’s nightclub. The museum also hosts youth cultural programs. The Gem Theater that resides inside the museum is a popular center for performing arts and hosts an annual concert series like ‘Jammin’ and Gem ‘Jazz Masters’.
Address - 1616 E 18 St, Kansas City, MO 64108, USA
Popular for - Blue Room
Ticket price - USD 10
Hours - 9 am - 6 pm
27. African American Civil War Museum- Celebrate the Spirit of Freedom
The African-American Civil War Museum commemorates the service of the African-American soldiers. The Spirit of Freedom Sculpture located just outside the museum is the most significant feature of the museum. The names of the martyred soldiers have been inscribed on the ‘Wall of Honor’. The museum also has a walking area where you can take a quiet stroll. The museum aims to serve as a reminder of the courage of the soldiers. The African-American Civil War Museum is a perfect spot for all the history buffs.
Address - 1925 Vermont Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001, USA
The Wynwood Walls is a vibrant neighborhood in Miami. It is a paradise for aspiring painters, graffiti artists, and innovators. The walls are also a canvas to world-famous artists. This place has everything from life-sized murals, abstract paintings, colorful graffiti quotes, and out-of-the-world sculptures. It is one of the most happening places in Miami. Wynwood Walls is an important part of the ‘Art Basel Miami Beach’ which is an annual art fair held in Miami.
Address - 2520 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33127, USA
Popular for - Quirky murals
Ticket price - Free
Hours - 10 am - midnight
29. Alamo Mission in San Antonio - A fortress converted into a museum
Alamo in San Antonio (Mision San Antonio de Valero) is popularly known as The Alamo. This fortress compound dates back to the 18th century and has been used for different purposes throughout the decades. This historic site has become a popular attraction in the USA as it attracts millions of visitors each year. You can explore the Alamo Church and the grounds free of cost. The whole site has been converted into a museum and is designated as the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Address - 300 Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX 78205, USA
Popular for - Guided tours that let you make the most of your time.
Ticket price - Free
Hours - 9 am - 7 pm
30. Detroit Institute of Arts - A must-visit in the USA
Detroit Institute of Arts which is also known as DIA, houses one of the largest art collections in the USA. This museum is so vast that it has more than 100 different galleries that have around 65,000 artworks. Its Art Reference library and archives are a treat for art-enthusiasts. The collection includes everything from paintings, sculptures to decorative arts and furniture. And that makes it one of the most visited art museums in the world.
Address - 5200 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48202, USA
Popular for - Different art shows at the theater
Ticket price - USD 14
Hours - 9 am - 4 pm
31. Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden - Washington, DC
The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is one of the "big five" modern art museums in the USA Located next to the Natural History Museum, this museum has some splendid sculptures outside too before you step in, it’s great to check these out. What to expect here? Art that pushes boundaries! Even for those who come to the mall, and want a short escapade from the crowd, the circular exhibition space outside the actual museum, will be superb. The basement of the museum has fascinating animation and video art exhibits. The best part of the museum, however, is the very exciting gift shop, which is the best among all the other gift shops at the other museums.
Address - 700 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560, United States, Washington D. C.
Popular for - contemporary art
Ticket price - Free
Hours - 10 am - 5.30 pm
Indeed, USA has a lot of museums that are thoroughly enlightening, and the above mentioned are the best of the best! So put on a wizard hat for the much captivating experience!