There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States, according to a figure released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. That means there’s more than twice as many museums in the country as there are McDonald’s restaurants – a staggering figure.
We wanted to narrow down that list to the best museums in the U.S. across eight categories. So, an editorial panel, along with travel experts, selected 20 nominees per category, then readers voted for the best in each one. The results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full winners list:
Best Art Museum: Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
Housed within a Beaux Arts building, the Detroit Institute of Arts maintains a collection of some 65,000 works – among the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. Visitors can explore human creativity from across the globe as they explore more than 100 galleries, including the Center for African American Art, one of the first collections devoted to African American art at a major museum.
Best Children’s Museum: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana
A favorite Indy attraction, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest museum of its kind in the world, encompassing 29 acres of fun-filled exhibits. Kids can snap a selfie with a T-rex, explore outer space through the lens of NASA’s Project Mercury, travel overseas without a passport in “Take Me There: Greece,” and play one of 12 sports outdoors in a fabulous interactive sports park with health in mind.
Best Free Museum: National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia
Immersive exhibits at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus take visitors through the last 240 years of U.S. military history. More than 70,000 artifacts tell the story of what it means to be a U.S. soldier. Admission is free and tours are self-guided.
Best History Museum: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
Located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center reveals the moving stories of the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King’s march from Selma, and the millions of people still enslaved in the world today.
Best Music Museum: Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Tennessee
See all things “Man in Black” at the Johnny Cash Museum — Photo courtesy of Johnny Cash Museum
This dedicated space to “The Man in Black” is packed with Johnny Cash memorabilia, including costumes, gold and platinum records, handwritten song lyrics and even a piece of the wall from the home he shared with his wife, June. A small theater screens clips of Cash’s television and movie appearances.
Best Pop Culture Museum: Comic-Con Museum in San Diego, California
No need to wait for Comic-Con; you can enjoy the fun of this annual event at the Comic-Con Museum all year long. Visitors can enjoy rotating exhibits, interactive experiences and a collection that highlights video games, TV shows, books, anime and more.
Best Religious Museum: Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky
Best Religious Museum for 2023 is Ark Encounter — Photo courtesy of Ark Encounter
This museum sits within a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark, based on dimensions given in the Bible. Inside, exhibits highlight one of the most famous stories in Christianity by showing what life might have been like for Noah and his family.
Best Science Museum: Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio
COSI offers a wide array of permanent exhibits and hosts a few traveling ones, too. Check out the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and Ohio’s largest Planetarium, or maybe take a tour of the ancient stories of the sea hosted by Poseidon himself. Lift a 2,437-pound car with the help of a lever in the outdoor Big Science Park.
Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10Best.com daily to vote in our other Readers’ Choice contests.