Whether I’m traveling or staying close to home, one of my favorite things to do is visit museums. I enjoy museums of all kinds – art, history, archaeology, the quirky and weird – and when visiting a new destination, visiting its museums a quick overview of the country, its culture, and its people.
How do you find the right museum to visit, keeping in mind that it is often just a matter of personal taste?
The Official Visitors Guide and travel guidebook are great starting points, especially when you’re looking for the major museums in a destination. And while I want to visit those famous museums around the world, once I’ve visited them, I start looking for something different.
Sometimes, if you’re the kind of traveler that likes to wander around, and explore the sidestreets and the paths less traveled, you can stumble upon an unusual museum. Most of the time, though, you’re going to have to dig a little deeper and go beyond your hotel concierge recommendations, and often, locals may well have ignored (or do not know) some of the more specialized and quirky museums.
That’s when I rely on suggestions from fellow travel bloggers, who are often in search of museums not listed in the typical guidebook.
This round-up of 34 museums worth a visit includes some notable well-known favorites (Louvre, D’Orsay), some specialized topics (shoe museum, Bordeaux wine), and some that are dedicated to an individual (Nikola Tesla, Evita Peron), and still others defy explanation. I hope you find at least a couple to put on your to-visit list.
Visiting Museums Around the World: 34 Worth a Visit
The Milwaukee Bobblehead Museum and Hall of Fame holds the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads, and I couldn’t wait to visit on a recent trip to Milwaukee. The museum is also one of the quirkiest museums in the city, and that always holds appeal for me.
Founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000, theMuseum of Pop Culture initially began as a tribute to Allen’s love of Jimi Hendrix and has since grown and become an institution dedicated to celebrating pop culture in Seattle and beyond.
The mantra of the museum is celebrated throughout its exhibits: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. If only the politicians of the world would act by that philosophy, we would see an end to war and crimes against humanity.
Wilmington was once a hub of the railroad industry during the 1800s. While it’s often overshadowed by Wilmington’s “Port City” moniker, the railroad drove huge economic progress during the mid 19th century.
The Corning Museum of Glass (or CMoG) is the largest museum dedicated to glass in the world. And while it has some art museum elements to it like you might expect, it's not just an art museum; at times it feels like a history museum and science museum, too, meaning that, yes, there kind of IS something for everyone here.
The National Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Virginia wows visitors with some of the Smithsonian’s largest and most impressive aircraft, housed in two giant hangers that are a lot of fun to explore.
The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida is home to the largest private collection of Salvador Dali artwork in the world. This comprehensive collection of Dali masterpieces, founded by A. Reynolds Morse and Eleanor Morse and personal friends of the artist, features more than 2,000 works of art. The building and paintings on display are glorious, and I highly recommend it when visiting the area whether you are an art lover or not.
Take time to wander through the “Early Influencers” exhibit and Stewart Galley to learn about the blues, R&B, bluegrass, and folk music that influenced the early sounds of rock and roll, and be sure to check out the “Rapper’s Delight” exhibit to learn how rock influenced the story of hip-hop.
NMAAHC is breathtaking, inspirational, heartbreaking, and joyous all at the same time. The museum is set up on 5 different levels. The museum was designed to start at the bottom, which begins in the 1400s, and work your way up to the top of the museum that houses the cultural galleries.
Those visiting Philadelphia to steep themselves in the early history of the United States will find the Museum of the American Revolution to be a worthy addition to “America’s most historic square mile”.
The National Museum of the United States Air Force (USAF) in Dayton, Ohio provides a jaw-dropping collection of military aircraft, spacecraft, and rockets which detail the history of aviation from a military perspective.
Located along the Seine in the7th arrondissement, the Musée d’Orsay occupies a former railway station. Although the building had numerous lives before opening at the d’Orsay in 1986, it’s hard to imagine that it’s soaring glass and iron roof are anything but perfect for this Paris museum.
A visit to the Nikola Tesla Museum in Belgrade (Muzej Nikole Tesle) should be on anyone’s Belgrade itinerary who likes science, being shocked with electricity, lightsabers, or is young at heart. Dedicated to the life and works of Nikola Tesla, the museum is a great way to explore science history while honoring one of the region’s most important figures.
The Borghese Gallery has a fascinating history, and the collection is stunning. But best of all, it is a fabulous viewing experience. Essentially the result of one man’s quest to gather together a significant private collection, today the Borghese Gallery is a museum owned by the Italian government, with its treasures available for all to enjoy.
If you’re going to build a wine museum, it makes sense to put it in Bordeaux, France, the wine capital of the world. Intended to resemble the swirl of wine in a glass, the unique building opened to visitors in 2016.
Nestled above sparkling Lake Geneva and the rolling vineyards of the Lavaux region, the Tramp’s home is now part of a museum complex called Chaplin’s World, along with a large immersive “studio” building where you can walk through and interact with the sets of Chaplin’s most famous films.
It is fitting that the Paris Metro station that is located near the museum is not only called Arts et Métiers, but the interior has that “scientific” look as well. The design of the platform was redesigned in 1994 by Belgium comic book artist François Schuiten. It is like a submarine with portholes in brass.
The Icelandic Seal Center in Hvammstangi is a great place for a quick stopover as you explore the Vatnsnes peninsula in Northern Iceland. It’s compact and well-laid-out interior allows you to understand more about the local seals which inhabit this part of the world.
Locate in the heart of Paris the Louvre is a piece of the city’s history. Originally a fortress in the late 12th century, of which only a small portion can still be seen in the basement of the museum today. And built upon over the centuries, it then became a royal palace. And it wasn’t until 1793, during the French Revolution, that it became a public museum.
The Katyn Museum documents the events of the Katyn Massacre – a movement designed to rid the Polish people of an autonomous future. In the spring of 1940, the Soviets executed 22,000 Polish citizens in a series of mass shootings across a number of locations.
The Museum of Ancient Greek Technology is a little private museum displaying the works of its founder. Kostas Kotsanas (b 1963) is an engineer who has not only made a life’s work of researching the technology of Ancient Greece but who has made working models of many of them.
The salvation of any historic shipwreck and putting it on display to the public is no mean feat. One of the best examples is at the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, an attraction that undoubtedly represents one of the top things to see and do in Sweden.
The Evita Museum tells the story of Eva Perón from childhood to her death. It is set up chronologically with one room leading to the next. Each is focused on a different part of Evita’s life. The museum is housed in a 1923 mansion that belonged to Perón’s social foundation from 1948 to 1955.
Its purpose is to invite understanding and memorialize the sorrow to remember the lost. It was told by the victims and perpetrators themselves who have moved beyond their own violence in an attempt to change Medellin into a better place.
With a location in Mexico City‘s Chapultepec Park, a strikingly modern exterior, and a collection of artifacts far beyond my imagination; Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology deserves a place among the world’s great museums.
You can learn all about the company’s history, enjoy afternoon tea, shop for china in the factory shop and even try making your own pottery at the fascinating Wedgwood Museum and Wedgwood Visitor Centre in Barlaston, Stoke-on-Trent.
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