The United States of America has fifty states that are as culturally varied as the geography that they cover. From the wildlife and snowy forested mountains of Alaska to the beaches and architecture of Florida, it is no surprise that the museums in the United States are varied in content and style.
According to the Institute of Museums and Libraries, in 2014 there were over 35,000 active museums in America. That’s a phenomenal number! So, rather than expecting you to visit all 35,000, here are a collection of the best museums in the US that are definitely worth a visit.
Art museums give visitors the chance to connect with art in a way that viewing the piece in a book or online simply doesn’t match. It takes a matter of seconds to recognize an image, but by slowing down and studying the piece of art, you develop an understanding of what the artist wanted you to see and feel as culture and history shape how art is viewed.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
Not only is this the largest museum in the United States, it also happens to be an iconic New York City landmark. This museum’s collection spans over 5,000 years of art and includes over 2 million works. It’s the third most visited museum in the world, and houses some of the world’s most recognizable art: Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Monet and Van Gogh to name but a few.
Frye Museum, Seattle
Sometimes size does not matter. What this museum lacks in size, it more than makes up with the quality and variety of its collections. It manages to combine feelings of intimacy and grandeur, and your idea that they were mutually exclusive will be challenged. The Frye Museum displays paintings and sculptures from the nineteenth century to the present day in a salon-style, which means that the paintings are hung from floor to ceiling – nearly 150 in one room!
What makes this art museum so great is that while it exhibits art from the ages, they also show art by contemporary artists; the internationally renowned alongside emerging talents. The Frye also has an extensive outreach program too, which makes art even more accessible to the public.
You may think that natural history is limited to the exhibitions of a dinosaur museum, but natural history has the potential to be a guidebook for the future as we understand our position and impact in the natural world.
Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C
This is the world’s largest museum and research facility for natural history. It has over 120 million objects from whales to the human genome. The artifacts displayed bring the past to life and is sure to inspire and excite visitors. From walking through the Butterfly Pavilion to the intricacies of the Bone Hall, every aspect of the natural world is examined and shared.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center, Thermopolis
If you want a traditional dinosaur museum, this museum in Wyoming is the best that there is. With Stegosaurus, Triceratops and an Archaeopteryx among the specimens on display, you may wonder just why they are located in a small Wyoming town. The reason is that the area surrounding Thermopolis is one of the world’s most productive bone fields. So, for all budding paleontologists, Thermopolis needs to be on your bucket list.
Industry and Technology Museums
While not as popular with the masses as art and natural history museums, industry and technology museums have a very loyal following.
Greenfield Village, Michigan
Everybody is familiar with the Henry Ford story, and Greenfield Village is the museum that is devoted to celebrating American innovations. It’s a great sprawling site that houses the Rosa Park’s bus, Thomas Edison’s lab and other artifacts that are so important within American culture. You cannot fail to be inspired by this museum!
National Museum of the US Air Force, Ohio
This is the official museum of the United States Air Force, and it attracts over one million visitors per year. It’s the oldest and largest collection of aviation artifacts in the world and has over 360 aircraft on display – it is huge!
In the digital world that we live in, it can be easy to experience life through a screen. Visiting museums is a wonderful way to connect with the world and have an authentic life experience. The variety of museums in America is astounding, and there will be one to pique and grow your interests, research the museum for your interests and make a point of visiting it!