Admittedly, we have not been to every museum in the world. But I do make it a point to visit at least one museum in each city we visit. These are our top picks of interesting and memorable museums for adults and for kids.
Read more to see our favorite museums worldwide.
Best Museums for Adults and older Kids
1. Kelvingrove Museum
Though I am putting this in the category for older kids and adults, as they have 22 galleries including huge collections of art, I brought my son and niece to the Kelvingrove and they both loved the large selection of taxidermy animals. From small animals like rodents to enormous animals like their world-renowned elephant, the Kelvingrove has something for everyone and is easily my favorite museum in the world. The grounds are equally pleasant, with playgrounds and picnic tables, walking trails and green spaces.
2. Victoria and Albert Museum
I am no fashion expert, but I loved the displays of antique dresses and accessories. The building itself is stunning, the galleries are beautifully curated, and everything was just so visually appealing that I didn't want to leave.
3. Tenement Museum
When I lived in New York, I frequented many of the museums there, but the Tenement Museum was unique and quaint and just so well done. Located in the Lower East Side and built sometime in the mid-1800s, the Tenement Museum tells the story of working-class tenement dwellers and is absolutely worth a short visit on any New York expedition.
4. World War II Museum
The World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana, features large collections of military paraphernalia including full-sized planes hanging from the ceiling, plus videos and other media. It is huge and really well done. We didn't spend quite as much time there as I would have liked, as the toddler was getting fussy, but that just means I'll have to return in the future! And although it really is too much to try to do the whole thing with a young child, my little guy did love the hands-on displays with wheels and seeing the planes hanging from the ceiling.
5. Holocaust Museums
The Holocaust Museums in both Houston, Texas, and Washington, D.C., are excellent. I think it's incredibly important to learn about the past so we don't repeat the same atrocities. Though I may not recommend these museums for young children, pre-teens and teens, as well as adults, should make it a priority to visit at least one Holocaust Museum.
6. The Barnes Foundation
Compared to other world-renowned art collections, this art museum is on the smaller side. But the history of the collection and the fact that the entire museum was once the private compilation of one avid art collector, combined with the quality and variety of art, makes this easily one of my favorite art museums.
7. Scottish National Gallery
Located in Edinburgh, this museum is huge and free to enter. With stunning pieces like The Monarch of the Glen and a large collection of my favorite impressionists, I could spend hours in this museum. Correction: I have spent hours in this museum.
Best Museums for Younger Kids
8. Museum of Chocolate
Last year, we took our son to Zagreb. Museums are not generally the first place you think of to take a one-year-old, but when I learned that they have a Museum of Chocolate there - well, as a chocolate lover, I couldn't not go. And, as it turned out, he loved it too! I mean, who wouldn't love chocolate tastings throughout their museum visit?
9. Children's Museums
Emmett loves the Children's Museum here in Houston, but there are 40+ other children's museums scattered around the USA - in Tampa and St Pete, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Lafayette and New Orleans, San Francisco, Denver, Seattle, Las Vegas, and more. Though I highly doubt we will have the chance to visit each one before Emmett outgrows them, we do plan to visit the one in Pittsburgh when we are there in August.
10. American Museum of Natural History
When I lived in New York, there were just a couple of museums that I visited more than once. The Museum of Natural History was one of them. I loved it then, and I'm sure I'll love it now. I'm also certain that my toddler will like it, and it's on our list for our next trip to New York. Watch the Night at the Museum movies before you go!
There are several other museums of natural history around the country, as well as museums of natural science (like the one here in Houston), which have some overlap with the natural history museums. Do you have a favorite one?
In addition to these ones that I have explored, my museum bucket list also includes the Van Gogh Museum and Anne Frank House in Amsterdam; the Louvre and the Musee Rodin in Paris; the International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Egyptian Museum in Cairo; the Morgan Library and Museum in New York; and the Acropolis Museum in Athens.
Choosing only 10 favorite museums was an incredibly difficult task. Runners up go to the Guggenheim, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Metropolitan Museum, and the Folk Art Museum in New York; the Museum of Torture in Ghent, Belgium; the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh; the British Museum and the National Gallery in London; In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium; and the Menil Collection and Museum of Fine Arts here in Houston.
Whether it's a large, international sensation or a small, local museum, I want to know what your favorite museums are! What museums should I add to my bucket list?
You may also like:
Welcome to exquisit