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.
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.
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, 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The most-visited museum in the state, 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.
In an effort to spark their imaginations and encourage them to collaborate and ask questions, this lively museum has two floors of fun, interactive displays for kids. 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.