Museums in Philadelphia

Philadelphia is a city which is rich with history but which is also on the cutting edge of the most modern trends in America today. Filled with landmarks dating back to the American Revolution and earlier, Philadelphia is certainly a place where you can go to see what America was like when it was young. And yet, it’s a city where there is a lot of industry coming in related to forward-moving fields like computers and medical technology so it appeals to a young, trendy crowd of people interested in arts and science.

The best way to see these two sides of Philadelphia is to take a tour of the city’s many different museums. Visit the history and culture museums to learn more about the role that Philadelphia has played in the history of the United States over time. Visit the art museums to put your hand on the creative pulse of modern Philadelphia artists and to see the history of art in the city. And visit the science and technology museums to see where Philadelphia is moving towards in the future.

Here are some of the Philadelphia museums you’ll want to add to this type of tour:

History and Cultural Museums in Philadelphia

African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP). This is one of the most important museums in the city (and in the entire nation) because it was the first museum funded by a major American municipality which is intended for the purpose of preserving the history of African Americans. It educates visitors about the role that African Americans have played in Philadelphia as well as throughout the rest of the country. The exhibits here are sure to teach you about a side of Philadelphia that you might not otherwise get the chance to explore as a visitor to the area. With four galleries and an auditorium, it’s the type of museum where you can probably spend a whole day if you want to.

American Helicopter Museum and Education Center. This museum collects, restores and displays historic aircraft so that people visiting Philadelphia today can get a sense of what it was like to fly in a different era. It’s a niche history museum which gives you insight into transportation history that you’re not going to be able to experience in this type of up-close-and-personal way in many other parts of the nation. There are about 35 different civilian and military aircraft to check out here so it’ll be a good trip but it won’t take you a full day to enjoy it. If you’re doing a full museum history tour, you’re interested in aviation history or you just want to see something different then this is a good Philadelphia museum to add to your list.

Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia (AKMP). People who don’t have a lot of time to visit a huge museum may want to make a quick stop at this small history museum. It’s located near major historic landmarks in Philadelphia (like the Liberty Bell) so it’s able to provide a great supplement to people who are exploring the city’s history on a limited time schedule. One of the favorite things here is a large scale map that lets you walk across a big chunk of Philadelphia within the walls of the museum. It’s a great way to see the city and learn more about it even if you don’t have a lot of time for your trip.

National Liberty Museum. People who are interested in the Liberty Bell and the other symbols of liberty and freedom that are so important in Philadelphia should make it a point to stop at this museum which offers exhibits on different liberty leaders throughout history. Through a combination of exhibits, art works, film and interactive displays, you’ll get a sense of what liberty really means.

Civil War Library and Museum. Some people are particularly interested in certain periods of America’s history. Those people who are interested primarily in the Civil War era will want to check out this museum. Basically any type of memorabilia from the area that you might want to see is on display here. Plus you’ve got a library full of information about the time period which you can access to really get an education in this time period.

Eastern State Penitentiary. People who visit San Francisco always go to Alcatraz; people who visit Philadelphia go to this historic prison. It’s a way for us to see the way that people were treated in the past and to learn about the criminal history of America. It’s definitely a fascinating stop.

Germantown Historical Society. The best way to experience the history of Philadelphia is to take a trip to the Germantown neighborhood which remains in historic form in many ways today. The best way to understand what Germantown is all about is to check out the historical society museum which gives you the lowdown on the city’s past.

Art Museums in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Museum of Art. Many travelers interested in art will make sure that they find a city’s modern art museum as soon as they arrive in the area. This is that museum for people visiting Philadelphia. There are numerous permanent and changing exhibits featuring all different types of art here. You may also want to look for events that are being held here as they happen often and provide a new creative dimension to the rest of the art experience. Every Sunday is pay-what-you-wish day for those of you who are traveling on a budget.

Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA). Those people who are interested in finding the more cutting-edge artwork that’s going on in Philadelphia will want to see what’s going on at this University of Pennsylvania art museum. Featuring student art and emerging artists, this museum provides a look at modern Philadelphia’s more creative side.

Woodmere Art Museum. The other museums in Philadelphia don’t necessarily feature Philadelphia artists all of the time. This one does. If you’re trying to really get in to the heart of Philadelphia’s art scene by a trip to an art museum then you’re going to want to make it a point to go here.

Science and Technology Museums in Philadelphia

The Franklin Institute Science Museum. People who are trying to find the most extensive science museum in Philadelphia are looking for the Franklin. With three theatres including an IMAX theater and a planetarium theater, it’s got plenty of action going on to educate you in the sciences while keeping you entertained and engaged in the experience. Various exhibits and events are designed to be appealing to a wide-ranging audience comprised of visitors of all ages. In other words, go here as a family or just go here on your own; either way you’ll have a good time.

Philadelphia Insectarium. If you’re interested in bugs then you might not want to pass up the opportunity to visit a museum that’s completely devoted to them. Kids love this place but it’s good for all ages and is definitely something a little bit different on the Philadelphia museum list.

Please Touch Museum. Those people who are primarily looking for a science museum that’s intended to interest children are going to want to check out this hands-on interactive science and activity museum. Even little kids can have a really good time here getting their hands dirty and learning about life.

Creative Commons License Photo credit: ReefRaff

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