As far as historic cities go, they don’t get much bigger and better than Philadelphia. The largest city in Pennsylvania, Philly was the country’s first World Heritage City and the birthplace of the United States.
It was in Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution were signed. With such a rich history and iconic attractions like the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, no trip to Philadelphia is complete before learning more in one of the city’s many museums.
Today, we’re going to show you the ten best museums in Philadelphia. We’ll tell you what they offer, why you should visit, and where to find them.
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10 Best Museums in Philadelphia
We’ll start with what’s arguably the most important museum in Philly – The National Constitution Center.
Situated on Arch St, this museum is the best place you can visit if you want to experience everything there is to know about America’s most important document. Suited to children, teens, and adults, you’ll start your journey into the past with a multi-media theater presentation.
You’ll then have the chance to learn more about the Constitution through interactive exhibits and artifacts. You can even take part in the Presidential experience.
Another museum you’ll want to visit to learn more about American history is the Museum of the American Revolution. This museum sits across from Independence National Historical Park.
After wandering through the historic district, explore the museum to learn about the American Revolution from a different perspective. Unlike what we’re taught in school, the Museum of the American Revolution explains things to us in a much more raw and honest way.
Exhibits brilliantly illuminate the often-overlooked perspectives of African Americans, Native Americans, and women. Popular exhibits include the Road to Independence and A Revolutionary War.
You might recognize the Philadelphia Museum of Art on Benjamin Franklin Pkwy from Rocky, where Sylvester Stallone’s iconic training scene was shot.
However, the museum is a lot more than that. This is arguably the best art Museum in Pennsylvania and offers an impressive Schuylkill River view. Some even consider it one the best art museums in the United States. If you’re interested in art, you simply must visit.
Inside, you’ll find a world-class art collection, including medieval relics, impressionist pieces, and masterpieces of the modern era. The museum’s permanent collection boasts work from Van Gogh, Picasso, Duchamp, and Brancusi, so check it out!
Another popular art museum in Philly is the Barnes Foundation. You can find the foundation in an impressive modern building on Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, near the Museum of Art.
This museum houses the renowned art collection of the famous chemist Albert C. Barnes. During his life, Barnes amassed one of the world’s best collections of impressionist and modernist artwork.
This includes masterpieces by Pierre-August Renoir, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent Van Gogh. The 4,000-piece collection is worth an estimated $25 billion.
Betsy Ross House on Arch St is one of the most unique museums in Philadelphia. This landmark is believed to be where Betsy Ross sewed the first United States flag. This museum is perfect if you want to experience the American Independence from a different perspective.
In this charming 18th-century house/shop, you’ll have the chance to learn about Betsy Ross and the work she did. You’ll also discover ancient artifacts and important documents, learn how 18th-century women lived, and have the opportunity to take part in various activities.
If you’re traveling to Philadelphia with your children, you must visit the Academy of Natural Sciences. This museum is also found on Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, so you could easily see it on the same day as the other museums in the area.
This internationally renowned museum has a history that dates back to the early 1800s. It has always served as a center for environmental education and research and today offers visitors a wealth of exhibitions.
Your children will love the live animal exhibitions, the enormous dinosaur skeletons, and the interactive opportunities.
Next up, we have the Please Touch Museum. This is the only museum on our list that’s solely dedicated to children. As you can probably tell by its name, this museum focuses heavily on hands-on experiences.
Capturing the imaginations of children across America, there are no “Do Not Touch” signs and plenty of interactive exhibitions. Most exhibitions center around science, art, humanities, and history.
Your children will have the opportunity to play, role-play, problem-solve, make new friends, and, most importantly, learn more about the world.
If you’re looking for a lesser-known museum, one of the best is the Asian Arts Initiative. In our opinion, this is easily one of the best museums in Philadelphia, but not many people know about it.
This museum is located in Chinatown, inside an old Warner Bros. theater, and is a small community-based arts center. It was founded in 1993 and is designed to promote a greater understanding of Asian-American culture in Philadelphia.
If you want to learn more about different cultures during your trip to Philly, make sure you stop by.
The penultimate museum on our list is where you should visit if you want to see the dark side of Philadelphia. Sitting on Fairmount Avenue, Eastern State Penitentiary once housed some of America’s most notorious criminals.
Opened in 1829, Al Capone, Willie Sutton, and Joe Bruno served time in the penitentiary. Known worldwide for its impressive gothic appearance and unique prison structure, this jail became the model for more than 300 other prisons.
Today, tourists can wander through the dark and dingy hallways and learn more about the prison through several exhibitions. Don’t miss the Big Graph exhibition and the Hidden Lives Illuminated display.
The final Philadelphia museum we have for you is The Franklin Institute. Named after Founding Father and inventor Benjamin Franklin, this museum is a technology and science education hub.
Bursting at the seams with exciting, unique, and engaging exhibitions, you won’t run out of things to look at and learn about here.
The Franklin Institute features a vast collection of articles from the Wright brothers’ famous workshop and ten permanent exhibitions. You can find the Franklin Institute next to Logan Square.
Where in Philadelphia Visit the Best Museums
The City of Brotherly Love is where America and history were created. Several museums cover much of the American Revolution. But Philly also has a couple of world-class art museums worth seeing. So, spend a long weekend or a week and explore the best museums in Philadelphia. You are guaranteed and memorable time with your family.
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