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The Most Popular Museums in America – Part 1

posted in: Guides  |  posted by: Jennifer Gregory on May 6, 2009  |  1 Comment

While famous museums such as the Smithsonian cluster in Washington DC are almost guaranteed to show up on lists of popular museums, you’ll be surprised to find that there are a number of other hot museums throughout the United States that are giving them some stiff competition. In many cases the museums house works of art that interest people from all over the world but in others research has found that the architecture of the building themselves are also drawing large crowds.


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Regardless of the reason for their popularity, each of these museums receives millions of visitors each and every year. Despite the struggling economy, people are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to spend their time and, in many cases, a visit to a local museum is an inexpensive and enjoyable way to spend a day.

So which museums are amongst the most popular in the country? Check out these 10 hot spots to get you started.

10. Smithsonian Museum of Natural History (Washington, DC)


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The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History on the National Mall in Washington DC is estimated to receive approximately 5.8 million visitors each year. Inside you’ll find over 125 million artifacts and specimens documenting and chronicling life from the days of dinosaurs to present day.

9. National Gallery of Art (Washington, DC)


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The National Gallery of Art in Washington is also part of the Smithsonian collection. The gallery was originally created back in 1937 after Congress received a gift from the art collector known as Andrew Mellon. On site you’ll find a popular sculpture by Andrew Goldsworthy known as “Roof,” which was created specifically for this museum, which receives an estimated 4.69 million visitors per year.

8. American Museum of Natural History (New York)


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With almost 4 million visitors per year, the American Museum of Natural History in New York houses 45 stunning permanent exhibits. The museum sits on an 18-acre plot and features exhibits chronicling evolution, gold, various cultures, and more. Many people find a return trip is necessary.

7. Museum of Modern Art (New York)


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The Museum of Modern Art was founded in the late 1920′s and today houses over 150,000 distinct pieces of art. The collection, viewed by over 2.2 million people annually, includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, drawings, and more.

6. Museum of Science (Boston)


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The Museum of Science in Boston started out in 1830 as a very small institution but has since grown into a stunning collection of exhibits. The lucky 2.01 million people who choose to visit each year are offered the opportunity to explore over 400 interactive displays and can even see the 2.5million volt Van de Graaff generator up close and personal.

5. Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (Various)


The Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC receives approximately 1.6 million visitors each year. What most people do not realize, however, is that this particular branch of the Smithsonian actually has three locations – Washington DC, New York, and Maryland. The Maryland location and resource center honors the Natives from the Chesapeake Bay region.

4. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington DC)


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The incredible Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC is dedicated to preserving the memories of those who suffered through these tragic historic events. Over 1.5 million people visit this museum each year to further their knowledge of the events surrounding this catastrophe.

3. Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (Chicago)


The Chicago Museum of Science and Industry is famous for not only the contents of the museum but for the building itself. The museum sits in what is considered to be the only building leftover from the World’s Columbian Exposition held in 1893. Inside more than 1.38 million visitors each year have the opportunity to explore incredible exhibits including the U-505 Submarine, a baby chick hatchery, and many other incredible displays.

2. The Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago)


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Inside The Art Institute of Chicago you’ll find a wide variety of exhibits showcasing artwork from ancient times through the modernist era and up to present-day. One of the most remarkable exhibits is the “Thorne Miniature Rooms” which is a collection of 69 individual recreations of European and American household interiors representing times from the 13th century through the 1930′s. More than 1.3 million people visit annually.

1. Museum of Fine Arts (Houston)

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston receives approximately 1.12 million visitors each year. They curators of this museum believe this museum to be the largest art museum south of Chicago and west of Washington DC, though this is not officially confirmed. The museum does house over 55,000 unique pieces of art and regularly hosts film-exhibition programs that draw additional attention.


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These are only 10 of the most popular museums in American. Take the time to work them into your vacation itinerary if you can and begin to explore. Before you know it we’ll be back with more!

Responses to this Article

One Response to “The Most Popular Museums in America – Part 1”

  1. Princess Sparkle Pony says on

    The National Gallery of Art is not part of the Smithsonian.


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