Most Visited Museums in the USA - Award Winning Destinations

Most Visited Museums in the USA

It’s refreshing to learn that people take time away from their phones to increase their knowledge and visit museums. The American Alliance of Museums reports that there are approximately 850 million visits each year to American museums. People visit museums more than they attend all major league sporting events and theme parks. Whether on school trips or family days out, museums are educational, often inspiring, and always a great day out for people young and old

1. National Air and Space Museum, Washington, DC

You don’t have to be a space fanatic to be amazed by the National Air and Space Museum’s collection of aviation and space artifacts. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Air and Space Museum is the largest of its kind – so large that its thousands of artifacts are showcased in two buildings. The main exhibit at the museum in Washington, DC opened in 1976 and follows the history and highlights of the innovation that led to American space exploration. The museum at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is a massive, hangar-like building that houses large aircraft and spacecraft, including the space shuttle Discovery.

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

In 1866, after a group of Americans experienced how Parisians bring art and art education to the French people, they decided that the American people also deserved a “national institution and gallery of art.” That was the moment the Metropolitan Museum of Art, more commonly known as The Met, set out to collect some of the world’s rarest and most beautiful artifacts and works of art. The Met is now in three locations – The Met Fifth Ave, The Met Breuer, and The Met Cloisters – and houses over 5,000 years of art from around the world. Among the collection are some of the world’s most recognizable works of art including Washington Crossing the Delaware by Emanuel Leutze, Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait with a Straw Hat, and Claude Monet’s Bridge over a Pond of Water Lilies.

3. National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

Another facility that’s part of the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of Natural History is 1.5 million square feet of exhibitions that educate and inspire millions of visitors per year. This famous green-domed museum on the National Mall houses 126 million natural science specimens and cultural artifacts. Among them are 30 million insects, 7 million fish in liquid-filled jars, 2 million cultural artifacts and thousands of fossils.

4. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

The National Gallery of Art began as a gift to the people of the United States by wealthy financier and art collector, Andrew W. Mellon. In 1936, he offered to donate his art collection and use his own funds to construct a museum, and with President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s support, they built that museum on the National Mall near Capitol Hill. The halls of the museum reflect the exhibitions that are on display. The Italian Renaissance galleries are decorated with Italian travertine wainscot and plaster walls. The original donation from Andrew Mellon was a robust collection containing 126 paintings and 26 sculptures.

5. American Museum of Natural History, New York

You may not have ever visited the American Museum of Natural History in New York, but you have certainly seen it. The museum has shown up in tons of television shows and classic films, like Night at the Museum starring Ben Stiller and Robin Williams. It’s not hard to see why so many filmmakers use this museum as a backdrop to their movies. Founded in 1869, its architecture is a quintessential representation of the Gilded Age. And because it’s renowned for its exhibitions and scientific collections, it’s a visually stunning and intellectually stimulating place. The 45 halls of artifacts, dioramas and displays are the most notable. Walking through these hallways feels like taking a stroll through the Encyclopedia Britannica.

6. National Museum of American History, Washington, DC

American history is deeper than what we learn in textbooks, and the National Museum of American History focuses on capturing the complex nuances and richness of our country’s history and culture. With 1.8 million objects and more than three shelf-miles of archival collections, this museum takes visitors on an extraordinary journey encompassing government and politics, American innovation and business history as well as entertainment. The collection includes Revolutionary War artifacts, props used in The Wizard of Oz, and there’s even an exhibit dedicated to how Julia Child transformed American cuisine.

7. The Museum of Modern Art, New York

The Museum of Modern Art is a place that fuels creativity, challenges minds, and provides inspiration. With extraordinary exhibitions and the world’s finest collection of modern and contemporary art, MoMA is dedicated to the conversation between the past and the present, the established and the experimental. Purchase your admission and skip the lines to one of the world’s most celebrated art museums. MoMA offers a panoramic overview of modern and contemporary art, from the innovative European painting and sculpture of the 1880s to today’s film, design, and performance art. Six floors of art galleries in midtown Manhattan include highlights such as Monet’s Water Lilies, van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, Matisse’s Dance and Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans, as well as contemporary work by Elizabeth Murray, Cindy Sherman, Ai Weiwei, and many others.

8. National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, DC

One of the newest museums within the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of African American History and Culture opened to the public on September 24, 2016 and is already in the top ten most visited museums in the nation. This museum not only highlights the contributions of African Americans, but also helps all Americans see the importance of these stories, inspiring through the values of resilience, optimism and spirituality of African American history and culture. The main collection displays almost 37,000 artifacts, documents, photographs and media that encompass African American music, literature and clothing, and guides visitors on a history through slavery, segregation and the Civil Rights Movement.

9. California Science Center, Los Angeles

The California Science Center mission states that they “aspire to stimulate curiosity and inspire science learning in everyone by creating fun, memorable experiences.” By offering free general admission to its permanent exhibits, visitors can explore Earth’s different ecosystems, immerse themselves in the innovative environments that humans have created and even see real aerospace artifacts in the Air and Space Exhibits. With a special exhibit or IMAX ticket, guests can schedule time to see the space shuttle Endeavour, which launched Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman astronaut to space and flew the first servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

10. National 9/11 Memorial & Museum – New York City

On September 11, 2001, most of America stopped in its tracks. The shocking events that took place on that tragic day pulled Americans—and much of the rest of the world—away from their busy lives to feel waves of complex emotion. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum is a tribute to the men, women, and children who lost their lives during the attacks on September 11, 2001, and February 26th, 1993. It is a physical reminder to ensure future generations understand what happened. The memorial consists of sunken twin pools set within the very foundations of the Twin Towers. The names of every person killed in the attacks are inscribed in bronze and form the tops of the walls that encase each pool. A peaceful waterfall cascades down all four sides of the pools. The memorial has been described as deeply moving, gripping, and peaceful.