There are more than 35,000 museums in the U.S. Though many of them showcase art, there are many other kinds as well. Some celebrate humankind’s achievements, while others concentrate on certain regions or certain parts of our history (including humanity’s darker moments involving slavery and genocide). Some look to the future with exhibits on space exploration and modern technology, while still others offer a window to the past, revealing how those who came before us lived. (These are the cities with the highest concentration of historic places.)
Over the years, museums have evolved from presenting exhibits behind ropes and glass partitions to more interactive experiences that engage younger and older visitors alike. They have also hosted touring exhibitions that have become media events, such as “Treasures of Tutankhamun” from Egypt that took the United States by storm in the late 1970s.
Each state has dozens of worthy museums, and choosing which one or ones to enjoy can feel like an impossible task. To help with the challenge, 24/7 Tempo has assembled a list of the must-visit museums in every state.
To do this, we sifted through rankings of these institutions by various sources, including travel websites. We considered the top museums from these lists for each state and weighed visitor comments. In many cases, we chose museums that offer experiences unique to their environment rather than art collections that might be better-known. These institutions are often less expensive than their more celebrated counterparts, and are sometimes even free. (These are the most expensive museums in America.)
The type and description of each museum came from MuseumsUSA, an online guide listing 15,600 museums, 80 museum associations, and 1,900 vendors serving the museum community. Most of the descriptive details came from TripAdvisor.
Some of the museums on the list are fairly new. For example, the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle was launched by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2000, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, was founded in 2005 by Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Others are venerable institutions that trace their origins to the 19th century. All are well worth visiting.