Get Cultured: 16 Must-See Museums in Philly!

Philadelphia is a city bursting with history, art, and culture. With so much to see and do, it's no surprise that the city is home to some of the best museums in the country.

Whether you're a history buff, an art lover, or just looking for a fun and educational outing, there's something for everyone in Philadelphia's impressive museum scene.

From the revolutionary era to modern art, Philadelphia's museums offer a wide range of exhibits and collections. You can explore the city's rich past at museums dedicated to the American Revolution, the Civil War, and the founding of the United States.

Art enthusiasts will be thrilled to visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which houses an extensive collection of American and European art, as well as the Barnes Foundation, which boasts an impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works.

In addition to its world-class museums, Philadelphia is also home to several smaller, niche museums that offer a unique perspective on the city's history and culture.

For example, the Mutter Museum is dedicated to medical oddities and features exhibits on everything from human skulls to preserved tumors. The African American Museum in Philadelphia showcases the contributions of African Americans to the city's history and culture.

Whether you're a long-time resident or a first-time visitor, the museums of Philadelphia are not to be missed.

With so many options to choose from, you're sure to find a museum that piques your interest and leaves you with a deeper understanding of the city and its place in history.

1. Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Museum Of Art
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Google Maps)

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a must-visit for art lovers. With a vast collection of art from around the world, this museum offers a unique experience for visitors.

The exhibitions are well-curated, showcasing both classic and contemporary art.

The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, making the visit even more enjoyable.

The museum also offers free admission on certain days, making it accessible to all. Don't miss out on this cultural gem when in town.

2. Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130 (Google Maps)

Eastern State Penitentiary is a historic prison turned tourist attraction. The Gothic-style building is well-preserved and offers a free audio tour.

Visitors can explore the prison's hallways, stairs, and rooms to get a glimpse of what life was like for inmates.

The prison also features art installations and exhibits on the US prison system.

The museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in history and old buildings.

3. Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum
6825-31 Norwitch Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19153 (Google Maps)

Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum is a must-visit for car enthusiasts. This museum specializes in rare race cars from the early 1900s to the 1970s.

Each car is displayed with descriptive plaques and videos, and a free mobile app is available for additional information.

The museum hosts special events and programs throughout the year and can be rented for private events. The collection is impressive, and all vehicles are driven occasionally.

Don't miss the Demonstration Days when the cars are taken out to a 3-acre lot. The museum is clean, well-maintained, and reasonably priced.

4. Museum of the American Revolution

Museum Of The American Revolution
101 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Google Maps)

The Museum of the American Revolution is a modern and spacious history museum with interactive exhibits on the American Revolution.

The museum takes visitors on a chronological path through the war and includes exhibits on the roles of women, African-Americans, Native Americans, and the British, Loyalist, and French.

The museum also features real-life photographs of veterans and their stories. The staff is knowledgeable and happy to chat and answer questions.

The gift shop is reasonably priced and has many interesting books. A must-visit museum for history lovers.

5. Museum for Art in Wood

Museum For Art In Wood
141 N 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Google Maps)

The Museum for Art in Wood is a must-visit for art enthusiasts. The museum boasts a beautiful collection of wood-based artwork, from historical pieces to contemporary craftsman's work.

Visitors can explore the exquisite permanent collection, as well as rotating temporary exhibits.

The gift shop offers a range of items at different price points, making it a perfect place to find a unique gift.

The museum also offers workshops throughout the year. Entrance is free, making it accessible to all. Don't miss out on this gem in the heart of the city.

6. American Swedish Historical Museum

American Swedish Historical Museum
1900 Pattison Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19145 (Google Maps)

The American Swedish Historical Museum is a hidden gem that showcases the achievements and influence of Swedish Americans.

The building's architecture is impressive and modern. The museum is divided into themed rooms that exhibit the history and culture of Swedes in America.

Noteworthy Swedes who made significant contributions to American life are also featured. The galleries are housed in a 17th-century-style house and include a library.

The museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the history and heritage of American-Swedes.

7. Paul Robeson House & Museum

Paul Robeson House & Museum
4951 Walnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19139 (Google Maps)

The Paul Robeson House & Museum is an extraordinary museum dedicated to the life and legacy of Paul Robeson and his wife, Eslanda.

As a singer and activist, Robeson was a talented and influential figure, and visitors will learn much about his achievements during their visit.

The museum is located in the home where Robeson spent his final years, and the beautiful and historical house is a real staple in the community.

Visitors will leave feeling inspired by the Robesons' legacy and the community of activists they helped forge. If you have the chance, be sure to visit this great place!

8. Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery

Lest We Forget Museum Of Slavery
5501 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19144 (Google Maps)

The Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery is an informative and emotional experience that everyone should visit.

The knowledgeable staff will guide you through a small but powerful venue filled with artifacts and history from the 1500s to present day. The museum provides a top-notch history lesson that you won't find in larger commercial museums.

The presentation and tour are excellent, featuring real shackles, art, and an authentic Ku Klux Klan robe. The museum does a great job of reminding us how the effects of slavery still reverberate throughout American culture today.

No pictures are allowed inside, but there's a lot to absorb and contemplate in the three-room space. The Lest We Forget Museum of Slavery is a must-visit for anyone seeking the truth about American history.

9. Woodmere Art Museum

Woodmere Art Museum
9201 Germantown Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19118 (Google Maps)

Woodmere Art Museum is a unique and charming museum that celebrates the art and artists of Philadelphia.

Housed in a beautiful 19th-century Victorian mansion, this museum offers a diverse collection of artwork that includes both classic and commercial art styles. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful sculptures and paintings both inside and outside the building.

The museum also hosts cultural events and exhibitions that showcase the talent of local artists and students. The staff is knowledgeable and friendly, making the visit a pleasant and informative experience.

If you are looking for a small and peaceful museum to explore, Woodmere Art Museum is definitely worth a visit.

10. The Colored Girls Museum

The Colored Girls Museum
4613 Newhall St, Philadelphia, PA 19144 (Google Maps)

The Colored Girls Museum is an art museum that celebrates the lives and contributions of Black women.

The museum's exhibits feature a range of mediums, including sculptures, photographs, and paintings.

The space is thoughtfully curated and showcases relevant artifacts, making it a must-visit for anyone interested in Black culture and history.

The staff is knowledgeable and passionate, and the overall atmosphere is welcoming and healing. The Colored Girls Museum is a rare neighborhood find and a beautiful contribution to women of color.

11. Science History Institute

Science History Institute
315 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Google Maps)

The Science History Institute is a hidden gem for science enthusiasts.

The museum is well-organized and showcases the history of chemistry with exhibits ranging from science education to environmentalism.

The displays are detailed and explain the scientific equipment and artifacts well. The venue is modern and comfortable, making it a great place to host events.

The best part is that admission is free, making it a great way to spend a few hours learning about the history of chemistry.

12. Faith and Liberty Discovery Center

Faith And Liberty Discovery Center
101 N Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Google Maps)

The Faith and Liberty Discovery Center is a first-class history museum with interactive exhibits.

Visitors can learn about the founding fathers and their championing of justice, liberty, faith, unity, hope, and love. The museum is reasonably priced and perfect for a 60-90 minute visit.

It's not recommended for children under 10, but teenagers and adults will enjoy the amazing stories and content.

The museum also features a unique "lamp" stick concept, allowing visitors to scan and store information for later reflection.

13. Underground Railroad Museum

Underground Railroad Museum
2000 Belmont Mansion Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131 (Google Maps)

The Underground Railroad Museum is a must-visit for history lovers. The museum's focus is on the abolitionist movement and the role of the Peters family in providing shelter to escaped slaves.

The exhibits feature recorded testimonials of former slaves, providing a unique perspective on their experiences.

The museum's location provides a stunning view of the city skyline, adding to the charm of the experience. While personal tours are not available, the staff is friendly and knowledgeable, making for a great self-guided tour.

The museum's wheelchair accessibility is also worth noting. If you're looking for a unique and informative experience, the Underground Railroad Museum is definitely worth a visit.

14. Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History

Weitzman National Museum Of American Jewish History
101 S Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106 (Google Maps)

Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History is an exceptional museum that explores the history of Judaism in the United States.

The museum is filled with informative exhibits, interactive spaces, and a top-notch gift shop. The permanent collection is enlightening and immersive, with exhibits covering different time periods and themes.

The museum also hosts great special exhibits, and the constant tells the story of American Jews.

The building is very accessible, and the staff is approachable and knowledgeable. This museum is definitely worth a visit for anyone interested in Jewish history.

15. Ryerss Museum & Library

Ryerss Museum & Library
7370 Central Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111 (Google Maps)

Ryerss Museum & Library is a hidden gem that is definitely worth a visit.

This historic museum is home to a beautiful collection of artifacts from around the world, and the library is a treasure trove of knowledge.

The best part is that entry is donation-based, making it accessible to everyone.

Whether you're interested in history, art, or just looking for a unique experience, Ryerss Museum & Library is the perfect destination.

16. The Rosenbach

The Rosenbach
2008-2010 Delancey St, Philadelphia, PA 19103 (Google Maps)

The Rosenbach is a unique museum and library that boasts an impressive collection of rare books and manuscripts.

Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the fascinating history behind the collection, which includes first editions of classic literature and historical documents.

The knowledgeable staff is passionate about their work and eager to share their expertise with visitors.

The cozy atmosphere and beautiful furniture add to the charm of this hidden gem. If you're a book lover or history buff, The Rosenbach is a must-visit destination.