15 of the Best Science Museums in the World
These science museums are so much fun you'll forget you're learning anything.
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Science museums around the world
Entering a world-class museum is like opening a doorway to another world. Your admission ticket is a passport to learning, culture, and most importantly, fun, setting both hearts and minds aglow in young and old visitors alike. While you can’t check out these science museums in the world in person at the moment, many do offer virtual tours and programs, as do many of these most popular museums in the world.
Pacific Science Center, Seattle, Washington
If you grew up anywhere near Seattle, chances are you took a field trip or two to the Pacific Science Center in school. Located in the shadow of the Space Needle, hands-on exhibits like Play lab and Tinker Tank and special events like Meet a Scientist, keep children entertained. There’s plenty for adults to enjoy at the Pacific Science Center, too, from rotating exhibits as model railroad shows to a permanent, 4,000-foot butterfly exhibit. The Pacific Science Center also features a planetarium, Imax theater, and evening laser shows. It’s no wonder the Seattle institution attracts 1.1 million visitors a year and has won awards from organizations like the American Alliance of Museums. Online activities include watching Live Science Shows, Math and Science Mashup videos, and more.
National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C.
The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., is part of the amazing Smithsonian Institution. Visitors of all ages will be able to learn about famous women in flight, like Bessie Coleman and Amelia Earhart, and marvel at exciting collections of historical aircraft and legendary missions like Apollo 11. The National Air and Space Museum also hosts rotating exhibitions, lectures, and events to delight the more than 8 million visitors who walk through its doors every year. Perhaps, best of all? There are no tickets necessary at the National Air and Space Museum, admission is always free. Online activities include STEM in 30 and various educator resources.
Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry is affectionately referred to by locals simply as, OMSI. Located on the Willamette River, it’s one of Portland’s most popular tourist attractions. OMSI focuses on the intersection of science, design, and technology with over 200 interactive exhibits, a theater, and one-of-a-kind tours or overnight camp-ins on the U.S.S. Blueback Submarine. In addition, there are rotating exhibits paying homage to themes like biodiversity, fine art and science, and conservation. Children delight in hands-on activities in the nature lab and the museum facilitates the largest museum-based traveling science exhibits program on the continent.
California Academy of Sciences, San Francisco
The incredible California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, houses an aquarium, planetarium, rain forest, and natural history museum in one location. It’s like taking a trip around the world without leaving the city. It’s home to a popular lecture series covering subjects as diverse as master birding and engineering for grade-schoolers. Online activities include STEM in 30 and various educator resources. In addition, Cal Academy offers nightlife events for adults and it’s one of the museums where you can spend the night.
Museum of Science, Boston
Boston’s Museum of Science has permanent collections showcasing diverse exhibitions devoted to subjects like dinosaurs, wildlife, optical illusions, and space, while temporary exhibits have spotlighted King Tut, dogs, and even food. Highlights include an indoor lightning show and overnights for students with adult chaperones. The museum has also received a Cisco Award for its efforts to help teachers integrate engineering into their curriculum. The Museum of Science welcomes 1.5 million visitors a year. Boston isn’t just big on science, it’s also one of the best American cities for history buffs.
American Museum of Natural History, New York City
The American Museum of Natural History is famous for being one of the best dinosaur museums in the world, but it’s so much more than that. The museum also features a butterfly conservatory, the largest meteorite found in the United States, an Alaskan brown bear exhibit, and so much more. The museum also features a giant screen for movies and a planetarium. In the past, rotating exhibits have honored everyone from Einstein to mummies. While general admission for adults is $23, children are $13, and students and seniors are $18. If that’s too steep don’t worry. They also offer an option where you pay what you can for admission at the ticket counters.
City of Science and Industry, Paris
Visitors to Paris, France, might get so caught up visiting the Louvre and other acclaimed art museums that the City of Science and Industry may get overlooked. But it’s worth building in time for a visit to the museum which is instantly recognizable for its jaw-dropping geodesic dome, and houses an Imax Theater. Permanent exhibits invite you to explore the mystery of the human brain, astronomy and learn all about the technology of transportation. The City of Science and Industry also boasts a giant playground with interactive activities for children of every age. It’s the biggest science museum in Europe, attracting more than 5 million visitors a year. Discover 10 of the world’s strangest food museums.
Shanghai Science and Technology Museum
China is home to the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum, dedicated to popularizing science and making it more accessible by focusing on themes of harmony, nature, mankind, and technology. Permanent exhibits focus on the animal world, space, light, human beings, and an interactive children’s playground. In addition, there’s an Imax Theater and rotating exhibitions showcasing everything from pottery to photography along with activities like science shows and training camps. It is the most visited museum in Shanghai, welcoming over 3.5 million visitors a year. Shanghai is also home to one of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.
Museum of Tomorrow Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
The Museum of Tomorrow in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, certainly lives up to its name. The exterior is futuristic and evocative of future civilizations of life in outer space. The museum integrates science and art and focuses on why change is necessary to reverse climate change to avoid further denigrating the environment and social collapse as well as solutions for a better future. It’s a heady subject, told through a series of exhibits and interactive experiences. Since we’re on the topic of the future, here are things in your home that won’t exist in 10 years.
Art Science Museum, Singapore
The Art Science Museum in Singapore prides itself on being a different kind of museum and it shows. The museum concentrates on the intersection of art and science, offering everything from late-night musical performances or a lively talk series to rotating exhibitions on the animation of Disney and the future of Singapore. They’ve even received a Webby Award for their film, Into the Wild. They also offer interactive workshops, school programs, and special events on family Fridays.
Natural History Museum, London
London is home to the Natural History Museum, one of the best science museums in the world. The main campus is the stunning, historical, Alfred Waterhouse building, which was built in 1881, and well worth a visit all by itself. Permanent exhibits focus on subjects like space, human evolution, British wildlife, and dinosaurs and rotating exhibits have included wildlife photography and fun nods to Harry Potter. The Natural History Museum in London hosts over 5 million guests a year and admission is always free. If you’re visiting London, stop by Windsor Castle after you read these wild secrets about it.
Ontario Science Centre, Toronto
The Ontario Science Centre in Toronto is one of the finest museums in Canada. Popular permanent exhibits include Kidspark, where children can build their own rollercoaster, play musical instruments, or blow giant bubbles. Other exhibits are devoted to the human body, space, Canadian forests, and how beliefs and previous biases can impact scientific research. The Ontario Science Centre features an Imax Omni dome theatre, a planetarium, and a children’s camp. Over a million people visit the Ontario Science Centre every year.
Science City, Kolkata, India
Science City in Kolkata, India is an immersive experience that includes an outdoor science park, a maritime center, and exhibits devoted to the earth and space. Classes, camps, and hands-on displays are available for curious kiddos and seminars are available for adults. The museum‘s architecture is a futuristic crowd pleaser. If you can’t make it all the way to India the museum offers a virtual tour.
The Deutsches Museum in Munich, Germany, is famous for exhibits devoted to themes like the natural sciences, energy, transportation, man and the environment, and communications. There are interactive displaces, camps, classes, and a Kids’ Kingdom for children in addition to courses and lectures for adults. The Deutsches has over 100,000 items in its permanent collection. On the subject of Germany, find out why Oktoberfest starts in September.
Denver Museum of Nature and Science
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science features collections about space, zoology, earth sciences, health, and anthropology. It makes learning fun for children and adults with rotating exhibits devoted to subjects like the science of Pixar and extreme sports. There are classes and interactive activities for all ages, a planetarium, and an Imax theater. General admission tickets are priced at $19,95, youth are $13.95 and seniors are $15.95. There are also discounts for students, military, and SNAP recipients. There are also days the museum is free to all on select dates throughout the year.