With how much history has happened right here in our city, it’s no wonder we’re one of the museum capitals of the world. There are more than 100 museums in Philadelphia, and some days you may walk past a dozen of them and never even notice they are there. Here are a few that are so worth spending the day exploring — particularly when the weather is bad, and you want to imagine you’re anywhere else but rainy, chilly Philly. Whether you like science, history, art, or even all three, you’re sure to find your new favorite museum somewhere in Philadelphia.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Penn Museum
When you visit the Penn Museum, you might find it hard to look away from the enormous 15-ton Egyptian sphinx, which is one of their main attractions. More than 125 years of sponsoring expeditions has allowed Penn Museum researchers to collect the nearly 1 million artifacts on display, and this impressive history has made Penn Museum one of the world's best archaeological and anthropological museums. You'll find clay tablets with cuneiform writing, artifacts from a 3,200 year old Pharaoh palace, and the largest collection of artifacts from the Levant.
Address: 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104
2. Barnes Foundation
The gorgeous Barnes Foundation stands out among the Parkway museums thanks to its impressive landscaping and architecture, but the real draw is the collection inside. Works from Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse, Manet, Degas, Seurat, Prendergrast, Titian, and Picasso make the Barnes Foundation one of the largest collections of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, African sculpture, and early Modern paintings in the entire world.
Address: 2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
3. American Helicopter Museum & Education Center
Kids and adults alike have so much fun in the 20,000-square-foot hangar at the American Helicopter Museum. Discover 70 years' worth of vintage and modern aircraft, climb into some helicopters and pretend to pilot around, and see the world's only V-22 tilt-rotor Osprey on public display.
Address: 1220 American Boulevard W, Goshen Twp, PA 19380
4. Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute is one of the oldest and most impressive science museums in the world, and visitors have been flocking here for decades to enjoy their signature interactive exhibits. Admit it — even when you visit as an adult, you've got to run through the heart! The enormous IMAX theater and North America's second-oldest planetarium are other popular reasons to visit one of Philly's favorite museums.
Address: 222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103
5. Mütter Museum
You'll find some strange things at the Mütter Museum... including a wall of 3,000 skulls, abnormal body parts, strange skeletons, and preserved organs. If you can stomach all of that, you can also check out a slice of Albert Einstein's brain.
Address: 19 S. 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
6. Philadelphia Museum of Art
The Philadelphia Museum of Art might be the most famous building in Philadelphia, thanks in no small part to Rocky Balboa. The third largest art museum in America impresses visitors every single time, with amazing collections of Modern, Impressionists, America and Renaissance artwork. The Pollocks are always my favorite to see, but Duchamp, Thomas Eakins, Cezzane, and others fill the more than 80 rooms with stunning culture and talent.
Address: 2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130
7. National Constitution Center & Independence Visitor's Center
Independence Mall is worth taking an entire day to explore. Be sure to visit the 160,000 square-foot National Constitution Center to see a rare copy of the Bill of Rights, as well as the Constitution, of course! The stories told in the large Kimmel Theater are worth attending, as they mix multimedia to teach about the beginning of our country. Explore key Supreme Court cases and hang out with life-size bronze figures of the founding fathers before heading across the street to walk through Independence Visitor's Center and seeing the Liberty Bell. If you have time, consider touring Independence Hall while you are nearby.
Address: 525 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106
8. Please Touch Museum
Do you remember trips to the Please Touch Museum when you were a kid? More than two million visitors have played through the halls of one of America's best children's museums. Historic Memorial Hall is the perfect location to blend education and play as kids and adults enjoy six interactive exhibit zones. Currently on display, you'll find an impressive restored Woodside Park Carousel, built in Philadelphia in 1908.
Address: 4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131
9. Fairmount Water Works
Fairmount Water Works is one of Philadelphia's most recognizable landmarks, and now you can explore the Interpretive Center on the grounds! Learn about environmental protection, architectureal history, and the importance of urban water planning. Kids and adults alike will love the interactive exhibits and the environmental aspect of the Water Works. This musuem is best saved for a warm weather day.
Address: Waterworks Drive & Kelly Drive, Philadelphia, PA 19130
10. African American Museum in Philadelphia
When it was founded in 1976, the African American Museum in Philadelphia, was the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The main exhibit, Audacious Freedom, tells the stories of African Americans in Philadelphia during the first century of American history: 1776 to 1876. Learn about Octavius Cato and other historic figures as you explore the exhibits on display.
Address: 701 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106
11. Eastern State Penitentiary
Eastern State is more than just a Halloween attraction. The creepy Gothic architecture hides one of the most impressive prisons ever built. Did you know that Eastern State had central heat, running water, and flush toilets before most of the country? Even the White House waited longer than Eastern State for these amenities. Enjoy a tour of Al Capone's own cell, learn about famous bank robber Willie Sutton's 1945 breakout, and learn about prison art.
Address:22nd Street & Fairmount Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19130
12. National Museum of American Jewish History
One of the most impressive buildings in Old City, Philadelphia is the National Museum of American Jewish History. The museum tells the story of nearly 400 years of American history, from Jewish immigrants to Jewish Americans, and everything in between. Thousands of images and artifacts, along with original films and interactive displays, make this a must-see museum in Philadelphia. Visit the free Hall of Fame on the ground floor to see Einstein's own pipe, Stephen Spielberg’s first camera, and more.
Address: 101 S. Independence Mall, Philadelphia PA 19106
13. Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University
The Academy of Natural Sciences is my favorite museum in Philadelphia. I can't help it — the enormous, fully constructed Tyrannosaurus Rex, takes my breath away, every time I see it! You can also check out the very first dinosaur ever discovered, Haddonfield's own Hadrosaurus foulkii. Dinosaur Hall is one of the most fun places to explore in the entire city. In the winter, it's nice to spend some time in the museum's simulated tropical rain forest and enjoy the butterflies that make you feel like you're somewhere far, far away from chilly Philly.
Address: 1900 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia, PA 19103
14. Battleship New Jersey
The most decorated battleship in American History is docked in Camden, just a short drive, train ride, or even walk away from Center City. Explore the impressive battleship's Combat Engagement Center, watch the launch of a Tomahawk missile, and hear the stories from tour guides who were active duty on the ship itself. "Big J" served through World War II, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Gulf War.
Address: 100 Clinton St., Camden, NJ 08103