The Best 10 Museums in Buffalo, New York

outdoor sculpture of tree roots surrounded by snow at Albright-Knox Art Gallery

Elen Turner

Whatever your interests, you'll find a museum or gallery to suit them in eclectic Buffalo. The Western New York city was once one of the wealthiest cities in the U.S., meaning it has a rich collection of international and American art. It has also been at the forefront of important technological and artistic developments (Buffalo was the first city to have electric street lights in the 19th century), and its museums reflect and educate visitors on this vibrant history. With indoor museums where you can shelter from the city's infamous winter weather to outdoor museum parks that are best visited in fine summer, here are the best museums in Buffalo.

01 of 10

Albright-Knox Art Gallery

building with a row of classical columns with a white head sculpture in foreground

Elen Turner

1285 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA
Phone +1 716-882-8700

Founded in 1862, Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery is one of the oldest public art institutions in the country. The Greek Revival building houses a fantastic collection of more than 5,000 works of art. It includes important works of abstract expressionism, Black art, as well as 20th-century modernism and post-modernism. Don't miss the contemporary sculptures and artwork outside the museum, too. These contrast with the staid classicism of the museum building. Expansions of the Albright-Knox will open in 2022.

02 of 10

Burchfield Penney Art Center

Black sculpture in the center of a large art gallery room

Courtesy of Burchfield Penney Art Center

1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo, NY 14222, USA
Phone +1 716-878-6011

A part of the Buffalo State College and just across the road from the Albright-Knox, Burchfield Penney Art Center focuses on art from Buffalo, Niagara, and Western New York. The center is named after Charles E. Burchfield, a painter of landscapes and cityscapes who spent much of his adult life in Buffalo. The Burchfield Penney Art Center contains the largest collection of Burchfield's work in the world.

03 of 10

Colored Musicians Club Museum

Small performance stage with drums, a piano, horns, a guitar, and an upright bass. There is a purple and gold banner above the stage that read "Musicians Ass'n"

Courtesy of The Historic Colored Musicians Club

145 Broadway, Buffalo, NY 14203-1629, USA
Phone +1 716-855-9383

Lovers of live music should visit the second-floor Colored Musicians Club in the evenings for live jazz, but it's also worth visiting the downstairs museum in the daytime. In the early 20th century, Buffalo was an important place in the national jazz scene, alongside Chicago, Philadelphia, Detroit, and Pittsburg. It was also a major stop on the “chitlin circuit," a network of performance venues across the U.S. that were safe for Black entertainers. Established in 1917, the Colored Musicians Club became particularly popular in the 1930s, and a lot of big-name musicians played here (including Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, and Louis Armstrong). The museum tells this history through a collection of interactive exhibits.

04 of 10

Buffalo Museum of Science

1020 Humboldt Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14211, USA
Phone +1 716-896-5200

The Buffalo Museum of Science started life in 1836 as a collection of minerals, fossils, shells, insects, pressed plants, seaweed, and paintings belonging to the Young Men's Association. The current building on Buffalo's East Side opened in 1929, and the collection contains more than 700,000 specimens. Many of these relate to the anthropology, botany, entomology, mycology, paleontology, and zoology of Buffalo and the Niagara region. The museum puts on special exhibits, too.

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05 of 10

Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park

grey naval ship docked near shore with blue sky and US flag

DenisTangneyJr / Getty Images

1 Naval, Marina Park S, Buffalo, NY 14202, USA
Phone +1 716-847-1773

Located on the shore of Lake Erie at the Buffalo Waterfront, the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park contains several decommissioned naval vessels that visitors can get a close-up look at. These include USS Little Rock, USS The Sullivans, and the submarine USS Croaker. In addition to the ships, a variety of smaller vehicles, vessels, and aircraft are on display in the park and there is a museum. The park is closed between December and March, when Lake Erie freezes and the area is covered in snow.

06 of 10

Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House

Landscaped yard at the Martin House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Courtesy of Martin House

125 Jewett Pkwy, Buffalo, NY 14214, USA
Phone +1 716-856-3858

Buffalo is home to a few buildings designed by prolific American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and the most easily accessible to visitors is the Martin House. The National Historic Landmark was designed for local business leader Darwin D. Martin between 1903 and 1905. In a city full of neo-classical public buildings and late Victorian Queen Anne-style homes, Wright's clean lines and open spaces really stand out. Admission is by guided tour only.

07 of 10

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

neo-classical building with columns and pointed roof and green leaves in foreground

Elen Turner

94 Broadway, Newburgh, NY 12550-5616, USA

The Karpeles Manuscript Library is the world’s largest private holding of important original manuscripts and documents. Buffalo has two branches—the Porter Hall and the North Hall—both with museums. The buildings the museums and collections are held in are attractions in their own right, which should interest architecture and history enthusiasts. Scholars, historians, writers, and other researchers may want to spend more time with the manuscript collection.

08 of 10

Museum of disABILITY History

Brick building of the the Museum of Disability History photographed from across the street

Andre Carrotflower / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

3826 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14226-3238, USA
Phone +1 716-629-3626

The Museum of disABILITY History on Main Street tells the story of disability in the U.S. and around the world. You'll learn about the evolution of institutions and care homes, eugenics, disability as it has appeared in pop culture, sports and disability, and the evolution of adaptive aids and equipment for people with disabilities. The museum even has an online virtual museum you can check out if you're interested in the museum but can't visit in person, and for educational institutions and teachers to use in the classroom.

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09 of 10

Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum

Entrance to the Explore & More Museum photographed from across a small footbridge

Courtesy of Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum

130 Main St, Buffalo, NY 14202, USA
Phone +1 716-655-5131

While many of Buffalo's museums are suitable for kids, Explore & More - The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Children's Museum is designed especially for them. Set out over four fun-filled floors with seven play areas, the museum focuses on Western New York. It's great for local kids learning about their home, but it's also interesting for kids visiting Buffalo from further afield as they can find out more about this part of the country through play. Located in East Aurora until 2019, the museum is now conveniently located in the downtown Canalside area of Buffalo.

10 of 10

Roycroft Campus

room in a museum with printing press equipment and pictures on the wall

Elen Turner

31 S Grove St, East Aurora, NY 14052, USA
Phone +1 716-655-0261

Visitors interested in arts, crafts, and design shouldn't miss the Roycroft Campus in East Aurora. While often recommended as a day trip from Buffalo, it's actually only a 20-minute drive from the city, so you can still visit even if you don't have a full day to spare. The Roycroft Campus was a center of the late-19th/early-20th century Arts & Crafts Movement in the USA. Now a designated National Historic Landmark, visitors can explore the incredibly well-preserved complex of buildings.

Arts and crafts-related events and classes are also held here, and the museum shop is next-level. You could spend hours just browsing the delightful collection of homewares, textiles, personal accessories, stationery, books, and other carefully curated gifts.

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The Best 10 Museums in Buffalo, New York