Guide to Inspiring Museums
Museums are a favorite among travelers and why wouldn’t they be? They provide a journey through different time periods and other worlds. They can take you into the Earth’s core, up into space or around the globe without ever leaving the building. Museums are the perfect addition to any group itinerary. No matter the age and background of your group, the following museums will captivate everyone through their one-of-a-kind artifacts, engaging art and interactive features.
San Marino, California
What began in 1919 as Henry Huntington’s pursuit of his interests in reading, horticulture and the arts blossomed into one of the most varied museums in the United States. Visit the botanical gardens and wander through 120 rolling acres of rare flowers, idyllic ponds and breathtaking sculpture. Head to the library where you’ll find rare works like Gutenberg’s Bible, then swing by the art galleries and enjoy pieces by American and European masters.(huntington.org)
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Buffalo Bill Center of the West is home to five museums. The Buffalo Bill Museum is dedicated to giving an inside look into the life of Buffalo Bill. The Whitney Western Art Museum allows guests to experience the spirit of the West through painting, prints and sculpture. The Cody Firearms Museum is the most complete collection of American firearms in the world. The Draper Natural History Museum will immerse your group in the nature of Yellowstone. The Plains Indian Museum teaches the culture of the Plains Indians. Experience the true West here. (centerofthewest.org)
Bluegrass Railroad Museum
The Bluegrass Railroad Museum in Woodford County Park offers visitors an 11-mile train ride that runs through the horse country of central Kentucky. Step into the past while riding coaches built in the 1920s and ‘30s. Inside the depot museum, groups will be immersed in railroad history when observing artifacts from the first railroad built in Kentucky. They can interact with a working telegraph set and send Morse code messages.
Cosmosphere International SciEd Center & Space Museum
Home to the world’s largest collection of U.S. and Soviet space artifacts, the Cosmosphere uses interactive experiences and world-class exhibits — including a Russian Vostok capsule and Apollo 13 command module — to tell the compelling stories behind man’s conquest of space. With live demonstrations and a state-of-the-art digital dome theater and planetarium, the Cosmosphere experience brings history to life, ignites the imagination and inspires visitors of all ages. (cosmo.org)
Country Music Hall of Fame
Nashville is most famous for country music, and there is no shortage of that at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Your group will be immersed into country music history with Sing Me Back Home: Folk Roots to the Present, the core exhibit, which journeys from the 19th century to today. Songwriter sessions, instrument demonstrations and film screenings will keep your group entertained. Unique group tour experiences are available.(countrymusichalloffame.org)
Start your visit off at the museum and visitor center where your group will find the Cyclorama, the country’s largest painting that depicts a battle of the Civil War, along with a film narrated by Morgan Freeman. The museum is complete with 11 exhibit galleries, artifacts and interactive displays. Groups will have a one-of-a-kind experience while touring the battlefield with a licensed guide. Don’t forget to visit the many special historic sites.
Milwaukee Art Museum
Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes architectural wonders drawing visitors from around the world, including the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion. The museum’s Collection Galleries put a spotlight on nearly 2,500 world-class works of art. In addition to its permanent collections, the museum presents regularly changing exhibitions. (mam.org)
Harley-Davidson motorcycles bring heart-thumping adventure, life-changing freedom and a bit of rebellion into the lives of people around the world. But whether you were born to be wild – or mild – makes no difference at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Much more than a nostalgia trip for motorcycle enthusiasts, the museum offers a glimpse of American history and culture like you’ve never seen it before – through the successes and trials of an iconic American company. Interactive, eye-catching exhibits present an unparalleled collection of legendary stories of our nation.(h-dmuseum.com)
The Mob Museum
Las Vegas, Nevada
The Mob Museum, located in downtown Las Vegas, is devoted to telling the true stories of organized crime and law enforcement by taking visitors on an interactive journey through history. Your group will get a behind-the-scenes look at how law enforcement infiltrates the Mob, get an in-depth look at the Mob in Vegas and around the country and see how the Mob has influenced Hollywood. Your group will leave enriched in Mob history. (themobmuseum.org)
National Corvette Museum, Plant Tours & Motorsports Park
Bowling Green, Kentucky
See over 70 Corvettes in periodic settings, mint classics and one-of-a-kind prototypes. Visit the Corvette swallowing sinkhole exhibit, then sit in a new Stingray Convertible. Displays and special exhibits continually rotate so no two visits are the same. Grab a souvenir from the Corvette Store, get a bite in the Café, take a GM Corvette Assembly Plant tour, then race over to the Motorsports Park for a lap. Ask about group packages and dining options. (corvettemuseum.org)
National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Western history, art and culture come to life at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which preserves and displays Western art and artifacts, along with teaching guests about the history of the American West. Galleries include Art of the American West, American Rodeo, Fine Firearms and the American Cowboy. New exhibits are never in short supply and highlight all topics related to the West.
West Tennessee Delta Heritage Center
This museum celebrates music of the Delta. Explore Flagg Grove School, the one-room school Tina Turner attended as a child. Step inside the shotgun home of Blues pioneer Sleepy John Estes and experience the Country Blues sound that grew from hard work in the cotton fields. Discover other famous musicians of the region, such as Carl Perkins, Eddy Arnold and Hank Williams Jr. (westtnheritage.com)
Ripley’s Believe It or Not!
Atlantic City, Myrtle Beach, Niagara Falls, Times Square, Toronto
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! features 95 attractions all over the
world. Some of the oddest collections imaginable are housed in their famous Odditoriums. True to Ripley’s nature, these Odditoriums take residency in unusual looking buildings. Exhibits include illusions, interactive displays, videos, photos, wax figures, artifacts and top-rated special effects, all in bizarre themed settings. Works of art are made up of everything from every-day objects to incredible collections to strange hobbies. Each museum has its own exclusive exhibits. Your group will find a roulette table made from jelly beans in Atlantic City, two-headed animals in Niagara Falls and an albino giraffe in New York. Along with its Odditoriums, Ripley’s also has aquariums. Its Toronto aquarium gives your group an in-depth look at the ocean, offering exhibits such as Canadian Waters, Rainbow Reef, Planet Jellies and Ray Bay. Your group can enter the Dangerous Lagoon to catch glimpses of sharks, stingrays and green sea turtles. End the visit at Shoreline Gallery where your travelers can touch stingrays and small sharks. Ripley’s Myrtle Beach aquarium gives guests a first-hand look at nature’s artwork like Pacific Giant Octopus, jellyfish and sea anemones at the Living Gallery. Watch divers feed stingrays at Ray Bay, and even get a chance to get up close and personal with them at the shallow end. Groups are also able to get a behind-the-scenes look at how the aquarium is run with Systems Control. (ripleys.com)
Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum
Simi Valley, California
One of the most revered U.S. presidents of the 20th century is remembered in exhibits that give groups an inside look at the Reagan
presidency. Your group can explore Air Force One and reflect at a section of the Berlin Wall. Take a tour of the Oval Office and see Reagan’s personal touches. The newly renovated museum houses hundreds of artifacts and displays, like the president’s digital, handwritten diary.