There are more than 35,000 museums in the United States, according to a figure released by the Institute of Museum and Library Services. That means there’s more than twice as many museums in the country as there are McDonald’s restaurants – a staggering figure.
We wanted to narrow down that list to the best museums in the U.S. across eight categories. So, an editorial panel, along with travel experts, selected 20 nominees per category, then readers voted for the best in each one. The results are in.
Click on each category below to see the full winners list:
Best Art Museum: Detroit Institute of Arts in Detroit, Michigan
Detroit Institute of Arts wins Best Art Museum for 2023 — Photo courtesy of Eric Wheeler/Detroit Institute of Arts
Housed within a Beaux Arts building, the Detroit Institute of Arts maintains a collection of some 65,000 works – among the largest and most comprehensive in the United States. Visitors can explore human creativity from across the globe as they explore more than 100 galleries, including the Center for African American Art, one of the first collections devoted to African American art at a major museum.
Full list of winners: Best Art Museum »
Best Children’s Museum: The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis in Indianapolis, Indiana
The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis offers fun for the young and young at heart — Photo courtesy of The Children’s Museum of indianapolis
A favorite Indy attraction, The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is the largest museum of its kind in the world, encompassing 29 acres of fun-filled exhibits. Kids can snap a selfie with a T-rex, explore outer space through the lens of NASA’s Project Mercury, travel overseas without a passport in “Take Me There: Greece,” and play one of 12 sports outdoors in a fabulous interactive sports park with health in mind.
Full list of winners: Best Children’s Museum »
Best Free Museum: National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus, Georgia
National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center wins Best Free Museum for the fourth year in a row — Photo courtesy of N/A
Immersive exhibits at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus take visitors through the last 240 years of U.S. military history. More than 70,000 artifacts tell the story of what it means to be a U.S. soldier. Admission is free and tours are self-guided.
Full list of winners: Best Free Museum »
Best History Museum: National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center wins Best History Museum for 2023 — Photo courtesy of National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center reveals the moving stories of the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King’s march from Selma, and the millions of people still enslaved in the world today.
Full list of winners: Best History Museum »
Best Music Museum: Johnny Cash Museum in Nashville, Tennessee
See all things “Man in Black” at the Johnny Cash Museum — Photo courtesy of Johnny Cash Museum
This dedicated space to “The Man in Black” is packed with Johnny Cash memorabilia, including costumes, gold and platinum records, handwritten song lyrics and even a piece of the wall from the home he shared with his wife, June. A small theater screens clips of Cash’s television and movie appearances.
Full list of winners: Best Music Museum »
Best Pop Culture Museum: Comic-Con Museum in San Diego, California
Comic-Con Museum wins Best Pop Culture Museum for 2023 — Photo courtesy of A. Afshar (c) 2022 SDCC
No need to wait for Comic-Con; you can enjoy the fun of this annual event at the Comic-Con Museum all year long. Visitors can enjoy rotating exhibits, interactive experiences and a collection that highlights video games, TV shows, books, anime and more.
Full list of winners: Best Pop Culture Museum »
Best Religious Museum: Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky
Best Religious Museum for 2023 is Ark Encounter — Photo courtesy of Ark Encounter
This museum sits within a full-size replica of Noah’s Ark, based on dimensions given in the Bible. Inside, exhibits highlight one of the most famous stories in Christianity by showing what life might have been like for Noah and his family.
Full list of winners: Best Religious Museum »
Best Science Museum: Center of Science and Industry (COSI) in Columbus, Ohio
Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is the Best Science Museum for 2023 — Photo courtesy of COSI
COSI offers a wide array of permanent exhibits and hosts a few traveling ones, too. Check out the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and Ohio’s largest Planetarium, or maybe take a tour of the ancient stories of the sea hosted by Poseidon himself. Lift a 2,437-pound car with the help of a lever in the outdoor Big Science Park.
Full list of winners: Best Science Museum »
Congratulations to all these winners! Remember to visit 10Best.com daily to vote in our other Readers’ Choice contests.