The 13 Best Museums in Philadelphia

Philadelphia offers a variety of world-class museums with exceptional and memorable experiences for all ages. Featuring displays that range from priceless works of art to scientific oddities and other curiosities, these museums promise to take you through some truly extraordinary exhibits. Philadelphia may be known as a city of liberty, and while the history of the founding fathers is certainly on offer to explore, there's more too. From the Barnes Museum, with its astounding collection representing Picasso, Degas, Cézanne, Monet, and Matisse to the idiosyncratic Mummers Museum, a capsule of Philly history, there is something for everyone here.

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The Barnes Foundation

Exterior of Barnes Foundation
Mark Makela / Contributor / Getty Images
2025 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
Phone +1 215-278-7000

Home to one of the largest collections of impressionist paintings in the world, the Barnes Foundation features the private collection of Dr. Albert Barnes. A renowned chemist and devoted art enthusiast, Dr. Barnes amassed an abundance of exquisite pieces before he passed away in the early 1950s. With over 12,000 square feet of gallery space, the museum showcases nearly 200 works by Renoir, as well as notable and rare pieces by Picasso, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Matisse, and other famous artists. If possible, arrange a docent tour in advance to make the most of your visit.

For more intel on the Barnes Foundation, give our complete guide a read.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia Art Museum exterior view
Mark Makela / Getty Images 
2600 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy, Philadelphia, PA 19130, USA
Phone +1 215-763-8100

You might recognize the museum's staircase as the same one Sylvester Stallone ran up in "Rocky." While the "Rocky Steps" promise a great photo op for tourists, head inside the museum when you reach the top. It's one of the largest in the country, as well as one of the best, with nearly 100 galleries and a massive number of priceless paintings, sculptures, and artifacts. Visitors here can admire a vast permanent collection of Impressionist, American, Renaissance, and modern works by many notable artists. If you wish to avoid crowds, the museum is usually open late on Friday nights (with food and live music). 

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National Museum of American Jewish History

National museum of American Jewish history

Visit Philadephia

101 S Independence Mall E, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Phone +1 215-923-3811

Located in Philadelphia’s historic district, this museum displays a multitude of fascinating artifacts that are representative of the Jewish experience in the United States. With five stories of exhibit space, the museum encompasses over 20,000 items, including some that date back several hundred years. If you are passing by and don’t have time for a full visit, you can check out the free ground floor displays. Here, guests can admire a number of interesting pieces of history, including Steven Spielberg’s camera, Irving Berlin’s piano, and a pipe that belonged to Albert Einstein. 

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Museum of the American Revolution

Interior of American Revolution Museum

 TripSavvy / Marla Cimini 

101 S 3rd St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Phone +1 215-253-6731

Opened in April 2017, the Museum of the American Revolution is one of the newest museums in the city. With hundreds of interactive exhibits, artifacts, paintings, documents, and everyday items, you will get a comprehensive look at the United States during the late 1700s. This unique museum not only focuses on the founding fathers, it also shines a light on Native Americans, Africans, and women. A highlight of this must-see attraction is George Washington’s personal tent.

For more information on the Museum of the American Revolution, check out our complete guide to the landmark.

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Independence Seaport Museum

Philadelphia's seaport museum

Visit Philadelphia

211 S Christopher Columbus Blvd, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3199, USA
Phone +1 215-413-8655

Because the city of Philadelphia is surrounded by three rivers—the Delaware, the Schuylkill, and the Wissahickon—the area has played a major role in the country’s maritime history. Outside the Independence Seaport Museum are two docked historic vessels: a World War II submarine and a warship dating back to the Spanish-American war. Head inside to explore a number of commercial and naval exhibits for visitors of all ages. Families should check out the special weekend activities for children. 

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The Mütter Museum

A display of skulls at the Mutter Museum
 Visit Philadelphia 
19 S 22nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA
Phone +1 215-560-8564

This one-of-a-kind museum showcases over 20,000 medical oddities and scientific abnormalities. Science enthusiasts can look at more than 100 skulls, antique surgical instruments, over 1,000 embalmed specimens, medical photographs, slides from Albert Einstein’s brain, and a plaster cast of the first known “Siamese” twins. The museum also features special events and lectures if you wish to learn more about this unique destination.

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Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

PA academy of fine arts exterior
 Paul Marotta / Getty Images
118-128 N Broad St, Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
Phone +1 215-972-7600

You don't need to be a student to experience the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. The museum highlights a world-class collection of masterpieces from 19th and 20th century modern and contemporary artists. You can find a number of exhibits by notable artists here—including Maxfield Parish, David Lynch, and Cecilia Beaux—as well as works by the students.

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African American Museum in Philadelphia

African American Museum in Philadelphia exterior
 Paul Marotta / Getty Images
701 Arch St, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA
Phone +1 215-574-0380

Celebrating the history of African Americans, this museum has become a must-visit cultural destination in the city. Interactive displays and videos focus on their culture, art, and history, while the museum's permanent exhibit, "Audacious Freedom: African Americans in Philadelphia 1776 -1876," sheds light on the African American community’s evolution during the post-revolutionary years.

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The Franklin Institute

Inside the Franklin Institute

Courtesy of The Franklin Instittue

222 N 20th St, Philadelphia, PA 19103, USA
Phone +1 215-448-1200

The most-visited museum in the state and one of the best things to do with kids in Philly, the Franklin Institute (named after Benjamin Franklin) teaches visitors of all ages about science and technology through interactive displays and permanent exhibits. You'll also find presentations, lectures, youth programs, community outreach, and a LEED-certified 53,000 square-foot wing dedicated to neuroscience. Be sure to give yourself some extra time to spend exploring this museum, as there is a captivating exhibit at every turn. 

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Please Touch Museum

Parent and child enjoying the Please Touch Museum
 Visit Philadelphia 
4231 Avenue of the Republic, Philadelphia, PA 19131-3719, USA
Phone +1 215-581-3181

To spark imagination and encourage collaboration and questions, this lively museum has two floors of fun and interactive displays for kids. They'll learn all about the solar system while piloting a spaceship or how to take care of their body in the "Healthy Me" area. A scaled-down version of the local Schuylkill River lets kids splash around, learn how locks work, and take a journey on their own "boat." During warmer months, the museum features an outdoor play area as well. The Please Touch Museum also offers an array of daily and weekly programs for kids.

If you're planning a visit, read more of our coverage of the Please Touch Museum.

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Edgar Allan Pоe National Historic Site

Edgar Allen Poe House in Philadelphia
Camrocker / Getty Images
532 N 7th St, Philadelphia, PA 19123, USA
Phone +1 215-597-8780

On North Seventh Street in Philly, you'll find the house where one of America's most famous authors, Edgar Allan Poe, lived and wrote. The red brick house is three stories and is where Poe wrote The Black Cat, a disturbing and dark short story. The basement portrayed in that text is creepily similar to that of this house. The historic site shows an eight-minute informative film on Poe, and regularly holds exhibits on his writing.

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Ryerss Museum and Library

Ryerss Victorian Mansion in Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvani
Buyenlarge / Getty Images
7370 Central Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19111-3059, USA
Phone +1 215-685-0599

Located in the Fox Hill neighborhood of Philadelphia, the Ryerss Mansion is an artifact of the city's storied past. Merchant Joseph Waln Ryerss built this Italianate architectural gem in 1859 overlooking the high vista of Burholme Park. There is a lot to see at this little-known museum, especially for art and history buffs. The house is home to an impressive collection of ancient Asian, European, and Native American art, religious pieces, and weaponry. 

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Mummers Museum

Colorful costumes at the Mummers Museum in South Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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1100 S 2nd St, Philadelphia, PA 19147-5497, USA
Phone +1 215-336-3050

Specific to Philadelphia's annual Mummers Parade, with a history stretching all the way back to the 18th century, Mummers are costumed characters celebrating the new year. The parade is the oldest continuous folk parade in the country. As part of Philadelphia’s celebration of America’s Bicentennial, the museum opened in 1976 and contains costumes, oral histories, videos, and audio archives. The museum hosts annual summer concerts and has a quirky gift shop, too.

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The 13 Best Museums in Philadelphia