25 Museums That Should Be On Every Traveler’s Itinerary

Museum of Natural History

Explore the United State’s most remarkable museums, each offering a unique lens into history, art, and culture. These institutions house treasures that captivate and educate. Join us on a global journey through museums that stand as cultural landmarks, preserving and showcasing the richness of human achievement and creativity.

1. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Smithsonian
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The Smithsonian is a group of museums and galleries. Housing over 154 million artifacts, the institution showcases the Hope Diamond’s dazzling blue allure and Apollo 11’s command module. The diverse collections span American history, culture, and science, making the Smithsonian a monumental cultural hub for visitors seeking an unparalleled museum experience.

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, NY

New York Metropolitan Museum of Art
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Located on Fifth Avenue, The Met features a vast collection, including Egyptian mummies and European masterpieces. The Temple of Dendur and the Met Cloisters transport visitors across time and continents. Renowned for its cultural range, this iconic museum is excellent for all ages. 

3. The Getty Center, Los Angeles, CA

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This museum is situated on a hill and offers panoramic views and an impressive art collection. From European paintings to decorative arts, the Getty captivates audiences with works by Van Gogh and Rembrandt. The landscaped gardens and striking modern architecture complement the museum’s dedication to blending art and nature.

4. Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, NY

The Museum of Modern Art New York
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MoMA, a cultural beacon, showcases masterpieces by Picasso, Van Gogh, and Warhol. Beyond canvases, it embraces dynamic film, design, and photography exhibits. The museum strives to highlight innovation, which you can tell through its diverse collections of contemporary art.

5. The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL

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The Art Institute of Chicago is well-known for its iconic lion sculptures, but it also impresses with treasures like Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” and Monet’s “Water Lilies.” The Thorne Miniature Rooms offer a unique glimpse into historic interiors. This institution highlights artistic masterpieces spanning centuries, from ancient artifacts to modern pieces.

6. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

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A cultural cornerstone on the National Mall, the gallery boasts da Vinci’s “Ginevra de’ Benci” and Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring.” Its East Building, designed by I.M. Pei, has many breathtaking modern works. The museum’s commitment to free public access ensures its treasures remain accessible.

7. The American Museum of Natural History, New York City, NY

New York The American Museum of Natural History
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A giant in scientific exploration, this museum unveils the wonders of our world. These exhibits delve into Earth's history, from towering dinosaur skeletons to the mesmerizing Rose Center planetarium. The esteemed dioramas bring wildlife scenes to life, offering an immersive journey through the phenomenons of our planet from past to present. 

8. The Museum of Science, Boston, MA

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The Museum of Science inspires curiosity and showcases interactive exhibits, an IMAX theater, and live demonstrations. From cutting-edge technology to natural wonders, it facilitates a hands-on learning environment, making science engaging and attainable for all ages.

9. The Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC

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The Holocaust Museum is a necessary but heart-wrenching memorial that bears witness to the horrors of that time. This museum emphasizes the importance of remembrance and understanding and is filled with personal narratives, artifacts, and powerful exhibits that convey the tragedy. It serves as a somber tribute to those who suffered, ensuring their stories resonate through history.

10. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

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The Museum of Fine Arts is a Southern gem that hosts an extensive collection, including European masterpieces and Latin American art. Some of the most famous pieces include John Singer Sargent’s “The Daughters of Edward Darley Boit” and Van Gogh’s “Postman Joseph Roulin.” Ranging from impressionist paintings to vibrant sculptures, the museum offers a visual feast, celebrating artistic expression from around the world.

11. The Field Museum, Chicago, IL

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The Field Museum is a notable natural history museum home to a wide range of specimens and artifacts. From Sue, the largest and most complete T. Rex fossil, to ancient Egyptian mummies and immersive exhibitions on cultures worldwide, the museum offers a comprehensive exploration of the natural world and human history. With a mission centered on education and scientific discovery, the Field Museum is a premier institution. 

12. The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA

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The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles is known for its impressive collection, featuring works by influential artists like Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko. One unique feature is the museum’s emphasis on site-specific installations, encouraging artists to create works that respond to the museum’s architecture and surroundings. Additionally, MOCA strives to present diverse voices, supporting emerging artists as much as possible.

13. The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, LA

National WWII Museum
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New Orleans hosts a living testament to WWII; this museum plunges visitors into the wartime experience. Exhibits unpack the global conflict’s complexities, highlighting personal narratives and military history. The museum honors the courage and sacrifices of those who shaped history during World War II with authentic relics and interactive displays.

14. The Getty Villa, Los Angeles, CA

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Transporting visitors to ancient Greece and Rome, this museum showcases classical art and antiquities. Modeled after a Roman villa, the Getty Villa’s serene gardens and carefully recreated spaces take you back in time. The Getty Villa also hosts public programs, including theatrical performances and educational events.

15. The Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA

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Famous for the “Rocky Steps,” this museum houses many European and Asian artworks. Beyond its renowned art collection, the museum actively engages the public through innovative initiatives, including collaborative programs with local artists and community-based projects. 

16. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), San Francisco, CA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
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Situated in the heart of the city, SFMOMA is a haven for modern art. With works by Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol, its exhibits push artistic boundaries. A distinctive feature is the museum’s commitment to cutting-edge technology, offering interactive exhibits and digital resources that enhance visitors' engagement with the pieces. Also, SFMOMA emphasizes community involvement, fostering connections through various programs and events.

17. The National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC

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A celestial journey awaits in this museum dedicated to aviation and space exploration. It preserves flight milestones from the Wright brothers’ plane to moon rocks. Exhibits show us the miracles of the cosmos and the human quest for exploration, making it an excellent destination for aviation and astronomy enthusiasts.

18. The High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA

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Located in the heart of the South, The High Museum of Art features lovely American, European, and African art. It has over 19,000 pieces, which include an extensive anthology of 19th and 20th-century American decorative and fine arts. The museum’s affiliation with the Woodruff Arts Center is a distinctive feature, providing a collaborative space for the performing and visual arts. Moreover, the High Museum actively engages in community outreach.

19. The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, IL

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The Museum of Science and Industry brings science and innovation together. It features displays like the German U-505 submarine and the futuristic Smart Home. This museum prioritizes hands-on learning, allowing visitors to engage with science and technology through interactive experiments and demonstrations. 

20. The Museum of the City of New York, New York City, NY

The Museum of the City of New York
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The Museum of the City of New York captures the essence of the Big Apple. You’ll see vintage photographs and incredible artifacts like Alexander Hamilton’s desk and the dollhouse of Carrie Walter Stettheimer. The exhibits dive into New York’s diverse neighborhoods, cultural movements, and pivotal moments. It is a dynamic institution bridging the past and present to comprehensively explore the city’s layered identity.

21. The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC

The exterior of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on February 27, 2020, as seen from 15th Street NW
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A testament to resilience and cultural heritage, this museum brings light to the African American experience. From the unfortunate history of slavery to achievements in arts and sciences, the exhibits here trace the journey of a community that shaped the nation. With powerful narratives and memorabilia, it fosters understanding and recognition of African American contributions.

22. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH

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Located in the Midwest, this museum showcases all kinds of artwork. The Cleveland Museum of Art has something called Gallery One, which is designed to enhance the visitor experience through interactive technology. Gallery One features a 40-foot, multitouch, microtile wall, allowing visitors to digitally explore the museum’s collection. It combines art and technology, providing patrons with an immersive and educational environment.

23. National Postal Museum, Washington, DC

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The National Postal Museum in Washington, D.C., stands out as a unique institution dedicated to the history and impact of postal services in the United States. Notable within its collection are rare stamps, postal artifacts, and interactive exhibits like the “Systems at Work” mail processing exhibit. 

24. The National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

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The National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., is well-known for its extensive collection, including notable items like the Star-Spangled Banner and First Ladies’ inaugural gowns. Notably, the museum is dedicated to safeguarding the country’s cultural heritage, showcasing exhibits highlighting various aspects of American life and covering innovation, industry, and social and political history.

25. The National 9/11 Memorial Museum, New York City, NY

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The National 9/11 Memorial Museum is a meaningful tribute to the events of September 11, 2001. It features displays like the “Last Column” and “Survivor Stairs,” serving as both a solemn memorial and an educational resource. The museum is dedicated to preserving the personal stories of those impacted by the tragedy, offering a comprehensive narrative that pays tribute to the victims and explores the enduring impact of that fateful day on the nation and the world.

Author: Creshonda Smith

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Creshonda is a content writer with a passion for entertainment and lifestyle topics like parenting, travel, and movies. Hailing from Cleveland, OH, she graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor's and master's degree in Clinical Social Work. While she has specific topics that she enjoys writing about, she likes to tackle other topics that she's not as familiar with in an attempt to continually improve her writing skills and knowledge about the world around us. Creshonda has written for various publications such as MSN, Detroit Legal News, Jacksonville Journal-Courier, and more. When she's not serving as a Trending Topics writer for Wealth of Geeks, she's searching for tropical destinations to travel to with her family.