The Top 9 Museums in Corpus Christi

Aerial View of tourist destinations around the Corpus Christi area including downtown, USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, Texas State Aquarium, Art Museum of South Texas, American Bank Center, North Beach
jdpage / Getty Images

Located in the South Texas Gulf Coast, the city of Corpus Christi is perhaps best known for its proximity to the beach, but it’s more than just a coastal destination. The “Sparkling City by the Sea'' was transformed into an international port when the Army Corps of Engineers dug a new ship channel in the 1920s, triggering rapid industrial growth in the area. Now the sixth-biggest port in the U.S., the 6 million annual visitors that spend time in Corpus Christi will discover, the city has its fair share of cultural attractions and museums that are well worth checking out. From a (reportedly haunted) 900-foot-long former military aircraft carrier to a museum that celebrates Texan surfing traditions, here are the can’t-miss museums of Corpus Christi. 

01 of 09

Texas Surf Museum

exteriror of Texas Surf Museum

 Courtesy of Texas Surf Museum

Address
309 N Water St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401-2570, USA
Phone +1 361-882-2364

The Texan shores along the Gulf of Mexico are replete with surfers (believe it or not), so it’s only fitting that the Texas Surf Museum exists. Located in the downtown Marina Arts District, this colorful, unique museum delves into the history and culture of surfing and Texas’ place in that history, along with educating the public in proper conservation practices to protect and preserve the Gulf Coast. Even visitors who don’t surf will enjoy exploring this museum, with its collection of vintage surfboards, historic photos, and cool memorabilia. Be sure to catch a surf film screening the projection theater. Check the museum’s Facebook page for updates on events and screening times.  

02 of 09

Tejano Civil Rights Museum

Address
1517 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401, USA
Phone +1 361-452-3650

The Tejano Civil Rights Museum is a fairly recent addition to the Corpus Christi museum scene. It opened in 2015, as a joint venture between Texas A&M University-Kingsville and the LULAC Foundation, as an extension of the Ben Bailey Art Gallery of TAMUK. Dedicated to the Hispanic civil rights movement, the museum’s mission is to preserve the rich, vibrant history of the Tejano and Mexican-American cultures rooted in South Texas through art exhibitions, displays with historical artifacts, and photographs.

03 of 09

Selena Museum

Address
5410 Leopard St, Corpus Christi, TX 78408, USA
Phone +1 361-289-9013

Dubbed the “Queen of Tejano Music,” Selena Quintanilla is one of the most celebrated Mexican-American recording artists and entertainers in history. You simply can’t go to Corpus Christi, Quintanilla’s hometown, without paying a visit to the Selena Museum. The museum was established in 1998, in response to (many) fans’ requests. Easily one of the top attractions in South Texas, the Selena Museum is a touching tribute to the singer, featuring her awards, gold records, iconic stage outfits, personal photos, prized possessions, and more. The museum is also still a working music and production house run by the Quintanilla family—it’s housed in the main building of their company, Q Productions. Selena Quintanilla’s life was tragically cut short when she was shot and killed at only 23 years old, but her legacy lives on through the museum.

04 of 09

Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures & Education Center

Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures

Courtesy of Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures

Address
1809 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401-1111, USA
Phone +1 361-881-8827

Elegant and impressively well-curated, the Texas State Museum of Asian Cultures pays homage to art from across all of Asia with an emphasis on Japan. The collection includes over 500 Hakata dolls, battlefield blades, a 5-foot bronze Amida Buddha, Japanese kimonos and porcelains, and more—all in all, there are over 8,000 objects and documents. The museum is only one of five of its kind in the country. There’s also a tranquil bamboo garden if you need a moment of peace.  

Continue to 5 of 9 below.
05 of 09

USS Lexington Museum on the Bay

Shrimp trawler and USS 'Lexington' aircraft carrier, Corpus Christi, Texas, United States of America, North America
Holger Leue / Getty Images
Address
2914 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78402-1116, USA
Phone +1 361-888-4873

A World War II-era aircraft carrier, the (jaw-droppingly massive) USS Lexington was converted into a naval aviation museum and educational facility in 1992. Today, it’s a National Historic Landmark. Visitors can step aboard and spend a day learning about naval history, either via a guided or self-guided tour. Make your way from the landing strip, which showcases 20 vintage aircraft, through the upper, lower, and gallery decks, where you can experience life as a crew member living on board during the war. On the hangar deck, you can even pretend to be an F-18 fighter pilot in the 15-seat Flight Simulator. Fans of the supernatural will be delighted to learn that the USS Lexington is nicknamed the “Blue Ghost”—both for its blue camouflage color and for claims that it sank no less than four times, only to mysteriously return to the seas again. 

06 of 09

Art Museum of South Texas

colorful paintings on a gallery wall at the Art Museum of South Texas

Courtesy of Art Museum of South Texas 

Address
1902 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78401-1138, USA
Phone +1 361-825-3500

Boasting a breathtaking oceanfront setting, the Art Museum of South Texas features a vast collection of more than 1,500 sculptures and artworks from contemporary local artists (from Texas, the American Deep South, and Mexico). The building itself is an architectural marvel—it was designed by Philip Johnson in 1972 and internationally renowned architect Ricardo Legorreta oversaw the building’s expansion in 2006. The stark white walls, sharp angles, and expansive windows give way to lovely views of the bay. It’s easily one of the best cultural attractions in the state. Families with kids will love exploring the Artcade Interactive Space, which offers a wide range of youth-oriented arts activities like building block stations, painting and animation, and a touch table collage activity.  

07 of 09

Art Center of Corpus Christi

Address
100 N Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, TX 78401, USA
Phone +1 361-884-6406

The Art Center of Corpus Christi is a nonprofit arts organization whose mission is to promote and nurture local artists in the Coastal Bend region of Texas. Visitors can peruse seven galleries that showcase rotating exhibits, as well as artists’ studios. All of the art on display is for sale here. The center has also emerged as an exciting community hub in Corpus, offering fun monthly events and classes like Intro to Wheel Throwing, Intro to Clay, and Using Color in Landscape Painting. 

08 of 09

Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History

Diorama's and displays in the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History

Courtesy of Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History

Address
1900 N Chaparral St, Corpus Christi, TX 78401-1114, USA
Phone +1 361-826-4667

An enriching destination for kids of all ages (and just as fun for adults), the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History showcases hundreds of years of South Texas's natural history. Interesting artifacts abound. Visitors can discover the many cultures of the people who have inhabited Corpus, marvel at historic shipwreck replicas, check out the rocks and minerals that make up the Texan landscape, and engage in interactive play at the H-E-B Science Center. Check the museum's events page to see when the museum’s educational workshops and classes take place every week.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

Britton-Evans Centennial House

Image of Centennial House in Corpus Christi Texas

User:25or6to4 / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Address
411 N Upper Broadway, Corpus Christi, TX 78401-2738, USA
Phone +1 361-882-8691

Built in 1849 by Rebecca and Forbes Britton, the Britton-Evans Centennial House is the oldest building in Corpus Christi. Forbes Britton was a partner in the shipping firm of Britton, Mann, and Yates, which operated a freight line between Corpus and Galveston. The home was used as a Civil War hospital for several years after Britton sold it in 1861. Today, the Texas Greek Revival-style Centennial House is furnished to the brim with period antiques and artifacts and is maintained by the Corpus Christi Area Heritage Society.  

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The Top 9 Museums in Corpus Christi, Texas