Texas has a colorful history and unique culture. You can learn about it and much more at some of the state’s best museums. It’s a ideal option especially on those hot summer days.
Whether you are interested in science, history, or art, there are plenty of options to choose from. Let’s take a look at some of the best museums in Texas.
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Covid-19 Notice: Please follow government advice and double-check museum hours and additional requirements (i.e. masks) before visiting.
The Best Museums in Texas
With the help of some of my fellow travel bloggers, I have compiled a diverse list of museums. It is organized by location to make it easier to find ones close to you. While many of Texas’s top museums are in Dallas and Houston, there are some exhibition centers in other locations that are also worth visiting.
Best Museums in Dallas/Fort Worth
The Dallas Fort Worth Area is the most popular leisure destination in Texas (1), so there are plenty of attractions for visitors including many museums. While Fort Worth may not be as big as Dallas, it still has world-class museums that you don’t want to miss.
If you plan on doing much sightseeing during your visit, consider getting the Dallas CityPass. You can save 37% off four of the city’s top attractions (including the Sixth Floor Museum and the Perot Museum). It gives you the flexibility to go to the places in any order over the course of nine days.
Sixth Floor Museum
Recommended by Anisa
The old School Book Depository Building where Lee Harvey Oswald was thought to have fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy has been turned into a museum. While it’s called the Sixth Floor Museum, it actually has exhibits on two floors.
Inside the museum, you can learn more about the timeline of events leading up to the assassination as well as the subsequent investigation. While you can stand close to the area where the shots were believed to be fired, the exact spot has a glass wall to keep it preserved. If you want to get a similar view, you can stand on the spot on the seventh floor.
After visiting the JFK Museum in Dallas, you will question what actually happened that fateful day, whether Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone or was part of a bigger conspiracy.
It’s one of the top attractions in Dallas, so it’s best to get your tickets online in advance. Adult tickets are $18, while children 6-18 are $14 and those under 6 are free. It is also included in the Dallas CityPass. The Dallas JFK Museum is open Wednesday – Sunday from 10:00 am to 5 pm.
Museum of Modern Art in Fort Worth
Recommended by Anisa
If you enjoy modern art, you must check out this Fort Worth Museum. The building itself is a piece of modern art designed by Tadoa Ando. Their permanent collection features big-name artists like Andy Warhol, Banksy, Jackson Pollack, Roy Lichtenstein, and Henry Moore. They also usually have several temporary exhibits for you to enjoy.
When you go to the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, make time to also visit their restaurant Cafe Modern. Not only is the food excellent, but the setting looking out on the water feature and sculpture garden outside is lovely. Make a reservation in advance and ask for a window seat.
General admission which includes permanent collection, all special and traveling exhibitions, and scheduled tours and gallery programs is $16 for adults. Those under 18 are free. The Museum also offers half-price tickets on Sundays and free admission on Fridays.
Kimbell Art Museum
Recommended by Anisa
At the Kimbell Museum, you can see a diverse collection of art from around the world. It may be small, with fewer than 350 works of art, but it’s the level of artistic quality and importance that sets it apart from other museums.
The collection includes Antiquities, European Art, Asian Art, Art of the Ancient Americas, and African and Oceanic Art from the world’s top artists. It’s on display inside two landmark buildings – the Louis I. Kahn Building and Renzo Piano Pavilion.
You will recognize many pieces from your art history lessons like Rubens’s Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, and Cézanne’s Man in a Blue Smock. Don’t miss Michelangelo’s Torment of Saint Anthony, which is believed to be the artist’s first painting, done when he was twelve or thirteen years old.
Visitors are encouraged to download the Kimbell app and bring headphones for audio tours of the permanent collection and special exhibitions.
It is free to see the Kimbell’s permanent collection. There are also often special exhibitions for an additional charge. Keep in mind the museum is closed on Mondays.
While at the museum, you can dine at the Kimbell Café or pick up lunch to go. They offer a weekly rotating selection of soups, sandwiches, and quiches prepared by Chef Peter Kreidler. From 2:00 – 4:00 pm, you can enjoy an afternoon tea.
Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Recommended by Anisa
The Carter Museum was founded around Amon G. Carter Sr.’s impressive collection of works by western artists, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, which is fitting given Fort Worth’s Cowtown image. Now, it has expanded to include artwork by thousands of artists from the eighteenth century to the present day that show the creativity, diversity, and complexity of American art.
You can see paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more from artists like Georgia O’Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Thomas Cole. I liked that the Amon Carter offered the thoughts and behind-the-scenes stories about the artwork from some of the people who have worked at the museum on the information cards.
One of the most memorable pieces was the large-scale Plexus no.34 installation by Gabriel Dawe. The rainbow string changes with the light in the Atrium. You will want to view it from multiple angles to take it all in.
It’s a great museum to visit with kids as you can get ARTivity totes that make the museum more interactive. There is also the family pop up space for when you want to get hands on or take a break.
Admission to the Carter museum is free. They offer free public tours of the galleries with no reservation required. Just check the schedule here. Keep in mind the Amon Carter Museum is closed on Mondays.
Dallas Museum of Art
Recommended by Tiffany from a Girl and her Passport
The Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) is one of those museums where there is something for everyone to enjoy. The collection has a wide range of subjects and is extensive. Some of the highlights of the museum’s collections are pieces by Claude Monet, Jackson Pollack, and Georgia O’Keeffe.
There are also objects from the ancient world to explore, including Egyptian and Greek art. Another great collection is the Kier Collection of Islamic Art, which features texts, pottery and textiles. The museum also hosts many traveling exhibitions throughout the year. In the past, these have featured artists such as Dior and Frida Kahlo.
Admission for the main collection is free, but a timed ticket is required. Some traveling exhibitions will require an admission fee. The fee varies depending on the event.
The museum is located in downtown Dallas. You can reach the Dallas Museum of Art by public transportation by taking the DART light rail to St. Paul station and walk from there. The museum also has paid parking for a flat fee of $15. No matter how you get there, it is worth the trip to visit this great museum.
Frontiers of Flight Museum
Recommended by Martin from Travel Explorator
The Frontiers Of Flight Museum in Dallas, Texas, is over 100,000 square feet and gives you insights into aviation history starting from the 1920s until now. It has a large collection of artifacts, space vehicles, and airplanes that show you how the technology has evolved over time. The museum moved to its current home, two climate-controlled hangar-like buildings in the northeastern corner of the Dallas Love Field Airport, in 2004.
Artifacts include interesting things like missiles, spacecraft parts, and engines. One of the famous and strange-looking aircraft you have to see is the Chance Vought V-173 “Flying Pancake” which dates back to WW2. Their flight trainers used to train pilots gives you a real view into what it’s like to fly a plane or jet. For space enthusiasts, be sure to check out their Apollo 7 Command Module and their replicate of the first privately-developed spacecraft, SpaceShipOne.
If you love souvenirs or want to get a gift for any aviation enthusiast, you can check out their store, which has all types of fascinating aviation gadgets.
Admission to the Frontiers of Flight Museum is $10 for adults, with discounted tickets for seniors, youths, and groups. It is free for kids under 3, K-12 teachers, and Gold Star Family members. Active duty military and first responders receive 50% discount on admission with ID. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, military families can visit for free.
You can take a virtual tour of the museum here.
Perot Museum of Nature and Science
Recommended by Theodore from Camperfront.com
Opened in 2012, the Perot Museum of Nature and Science is a natural history and science museum consisting of two campuses (primary & secondary campuses). The primary campus is located in Victory Park, while the secondary campus is in Fair Park.
The primary building, designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, has been called “the boldest piece of modern architecture to hit Dallas” by the Dallas Morning News. It features a 54-foot-long escalator contained in a 150-foot glass tube-like structure that dramatically extends outside the building.
With more than 180,000 square feet, the Perot Museum has 5 levels with 11 permanent exhibits for all ages. You will find various displays that cover anything from programming and building a small robotic vehicle to ultramodern video and 3D computer animation and big dinosaur skeletons.
The museum also features different educational games, hands-on activities, and interactive kiosks, all designed to stimulate curiosity in visitors and keep them entertained. That’s not all, there’s also an on-site children’s museum and outdoor play space to keep the little ones entertained so they can get in on the fun.
Admission to the Perot Museum is $20 for adults and $13 for kids 2-12 years old. It is included as part of the Dallas CityPass. Eligible educators, first responders, military members, as well as members of partner museums can visit for free.
Museum of Illusions
Recommended by Michelle from That Texas Couple
If you are looking for the best museums in Texas, then you have to add the Museum of Illusions in Dallas, Texas to your list. It is important to note that the Museum of Illusions is not your typical museum. You will not find any artifacts or beautiful artwork in this museum. Instead, you will find loads of hands of illusions and tons of places to take fun photographs that will have your friends saying, “How did you do that?”
Located in the heart of downtown Dallas, the Museum of Illusions has over 80 optical illusions, holograms, and interactive rooms for you to discover. You can test your brainpower by trying to solve one of the many dilemma games before you question your perception of size and gravity in one of the many interactive rooms.
Not only do kids love the museum, but also kids at heart. That is why it is one of the best date nights in Dallas!
Best Museums in Houston
As you might expect, you can find plenty of interesting museums in Texas’s largest city, Houston. It’s home to Johnson Space Center, so you would expect to find some interesting science museums, but there are excellent art museums too.
If you plan on visiting several top attractions while you are in Houston, consider getting a CityPass. You can save 47% off admission at Houston’s top 5 attractions (including Space Center Houston and the Museum of Natural Science) with CityPASS. You can visit the attractions at your own pace, in any order, over a 9-day period. Get more information here.
Museum-lovers may prefer the Houston Museum Pass, although it does not include Space Center Houston. If you just plan on visiting Space Center Houston and the Museum of Natural Science, you can save money with this combination ticket.
Space Center Houston
Recommended by Victoria from Guide Your Travel
The Space Center is located on the outskirts of Houston and might just be one of the most popular museums in all of Texas. It’s the Official Visitor Center of the NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC). Suitable for all ages, this is a great place to take the entire family or just visit by yourself if you’re interested in space.
Inside the museum, you can see both artifacts from past space missions and realistic replicas. Be sure to take the NASA Tram Tour so that you can get a behind-the-scenes look at human space exploration at JSC. Learn more about travel to Mars and even experience a virtual Mars sunset at the new Mission Mars exhibit.
With all there is to see, be sure to download their free app here to help plan your visit. Definitely make sure you put Space Center Houston at the top of your Texas bucket list.
The museum is open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm daily (except some public holidays). It is included in the Houston CityPass. If you don’t have the CityPass, the entrance fee is $29.95 for adults and $24.95 for kids aged 4 to 11. Kids under 4 can visit for free. You can also try a virtual reality space walk or motion simulator space travel ride for an additional fee. Book your tickets online here to skip the line.
The Houston Museum of Natural Science
Recommended by Mike from USAspiders.com
The Houston Museum of Natural Science is an incredible learning center for all things related to nature and natural science. The recommended visiting time for the permanent exhibits alone is two hours. Some of the halls worth seeing are the paleontology hall with numerous dinosaur skeletons, the hall of ancient Egypt, the hall of gems and minerals, the hall of Texas wildlife and the energy hall.
You can learn about local spiders, insects and butterflies in the Butterfly Center. The Burke Baker Planetarium will give you an exciting glimpse of the size of our universe.
Next to its permanent exhibitions, the museum always hosts several exciting special exhibitions with changing topics. The tickets to the special exhibitions also allow entry to all permanent exhibit halls.
The HMNS is open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Please keep in mind that the opening hours of special exhibitions and the Planetarium and Butterfly Center can differ – but all are open 7 days a week.
On Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., the permanent exhibit halls can be visited for free. On all other weekdays and times, the entry fee is $25 for adults and $16 for children (aged 3-11). Discounts apply for students, seniors, military personnel and groups. It is also included in the Houston CityPass.
The museum is located at Hermann Park in Houston.
Best Museums in Austin
Austin is the capital of Texas and home to one of it’s top universities. There are lots of cheap things to do in Austin. It’s more quirky and outdoorsy than other Texas cities, but it still has some special museums.
Bullock Texas State History Museum
Recommended by Lisa from Planning Away
The Bullock Texas State History Museum is located in Downtown Austin. This museum is great for both adults and children. There is plenty of information to soak up but enough interactive exhibits to entertain the kids.
It tells the story of Texas. The exhibits change quite often so there is always something new to explore. Special programs allow all participants to learn and explore the museum in a fun way.
The Spirit of Texas Theater is amazing. It is a multi-sensory experience. The Star of Destiny – Take an Unforgettable Journey Through Texas State History is incredible. You can feel a tornado, get bit by a rattlesnake, and learn so much about Texas! Shipwreck is another adventure you can experience in the interactive theater.
The museum offers many choices for their IMAX theater. There is always something new to see.
The Texas State History Museum is worth a visit! It’s open Wednesday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Adult tickets are $13, while tickets for children ages 4-17 are $9. There are discounts available for college students, military, and seniors. If you want to see films in the IMAX Theater or Texas Spirit Theater, it is an additional charge.
LBJ Presidential Library & Museum
Recommended by Eden from Rock a Little Travel
The LBJ Presidential Library seeks to teach the public about the presidency and life of Lyndon Baines Johnson, the 36th president of the United States.
The library’s most impressive exhibits include the Civil Rights Gallery, The Vietnam Conflict, and The Legacy Gallery. These exhibits educate visitors about the events leading up to and after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the events leading up to and after the Vietnam War, and provide a general overview of LBJ’s presidency as a whole.
Other exhibits at the LBJ Presidential Library include the presidential limousine, the Oval Office, the November 22, 1963 gallery, and Sixty from the 60s.
The LBJ Presidential Library is located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. The library and museum are open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. but are closed on some major holidays.
Free admission is available on Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, Explore UT day, LBJ’s birthday, Memorial Day, the 4th of July, Veteran’s Day, and Austin Museum Day.
Best Museums in Other Parts of Texas
Not all the top museums in Texas are located in its biggest cities. While you may not expect it, some smaller cities have some fascinating museums to discover.
National Museum of the Pacific War
Recommended by Laura from Travel Addicts
The National Museum of the Pacific War is one of the top attractions in Fredericksburg. A large, world-class museum, it features in-depth exhibits that sprawl across three buildings and six acres of space. With thousands of artifacts and numerous planes, tanks, and boats, it covers the battles of World War II in the Pacific in painstaking detail.
A particular standout among the displays is the only remaining midget submarine that initiated Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor—the event that started the war in the Pacific. The exhibit places visitors underwater just seconds before the devastating attack.
Throughout the museum, visitors can see artifacts and moving personal stories from soldiers. There are uniforms, diaries, condolence letters, and other items that highlight the impact and experience of war from the perspective of the people fighting it.
Beyond the exhibits and artillery, the National Museum of the Pacific War has a special amphitheater battlefield known as the Pacific Combat Zone. Here, reenactors demonstrate the challenges that soldiers faced, and the performances bring to life the sights, sounds, and smells of a Pacific battlefield.
Recommended by Lauren from Explorer Momma
The Grace Museum is located in downtown Abilene in the restored historic Hotel Grace. For locals and visitors alike, it’s considered one of the top things to do in Abilene Texas. A long-standing welcome sign to Abilene, it was originally constructed in 1909 by Colonel W. L. Beckham and named for his daughter, Grace.
Love history? Just across the street is Everman Park and the T&P Depot, the Texas & Pacific Railroad Station built in 1910. Texas history buffs should definitely take their own walking tour of this entire section of town.
Today at The Grace Museum, the main areas of focus include art exhibition and photography, the history gallery, and the children’s museum. Art exhibits rotate from all over but center on historic and contemporary American art and artists with Texas connections.
The 3rd floor is the history gallery, dedicated to displays telling the story of the cultural and social history of Abilene and West Texas between 1880 and 1950. Some of their own and visiting collections rotate so no visit is exactly the same! The period parlor and kitchen room displays are a fun glimpse of daily from 1910, 1928, and, 1948.
The children’s museum area is interactive and always a hit with kids and families. In fact, every June the Grace also hosts the hugely popular Children’s Art and Literary Festival when they bring in and honor an illustrator of children’s books. There are book readings and fun art activities for everyone.
Currently open Tuesdays through Fridays from 1:00 om – 5:00 pm and Saturdays from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, the museum offers Thursday nights free from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm.
Top Texas Museums
So there you have it, plenty of museums to visit it Texas. As I discover more, I will add them to the list.
In the meantime, you might also like to check out these museum posts:
What’s your favorite museum in Texas?
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Last Updated on October 6, 2021