Top Museums in Philadelphia to Visit During Your Trip

Planning a visit to Philadelphia? Our insiders put together a list of our top Philadelphia museums worth considering adding to your itinerary.

Philly and its surrounding areas are home to a ton of world-renowned and award-winning educational institutions that explore topics ranging from Philadelphia-specific history, African-American heritage, STEM-focused museums, art museums, and more.

We put together a list of some popular Philadelphia museums that you should consider visiting during your trip.

Want Passes to Top Philadelphia Museums?

Admission to a number of these museums is included on The Philadelphia Pass.

Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 45% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Browse all available Philadelphia Multi-Attraction Sightseeing Passes.

A few of the museums available on The Philadelphia Pass include…

  • The Franklin Institute Science Museum
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art
  • National Constitution Center
  • Betsy Ross House
  • Philadelphia Zoo
  • Barnes Foundation
  • And more

Franklin Institute Science Museum

The front of Franklin Institute

It’s the most-visited museum in Pennsylvania for a reason – discovery why and learn something new at The Franklin Institute.

Geared towards inspiring curiosity and creativity (like its namesake, Benjamin Franklin, was), kids and adults alike will have fun with the museum’s signature hands-on and interactive science exhibition. One of the best things about this museum is the focus on technology, they have some of the coolest virtual reality devices out.

From the land we live on to galaxies far away, you’ll get to explore the science behind the world we live in (and beyond).

Exhibition Highlights:

  • A Mirror Maze: Numbers in Nature: navigate your way through a maze of mirrors that highlights geometry, tessellations, and repetitions that exist in everyday life
  • Virtual Reality: try out the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive in this interactive exhibit and learn about blue whales and systems of the human body
  • Sports Zone: learn the science behind athletic performance and how it can help you excel
  • The Giant Heart: kids – and those who can fit – can climb through larger-than-life scale arteries of the heart
  • Observatory: located on the museum’s roof, this exhibition features the tools needed to observe solar activity, like sun flares and spots, through refractors and telescopes in real time
  • The Planetarium: check the schedule and attend a show to explore topics related to our universe and beyond
  • And more

Insider tips: download The Franklin Institute’s mobile app to enhance your visit and check the daily schedule in advance to plan your visit around any events or demonstrations you want to see throughout the day.

Getting in: The Franklin Institute general admission tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass, which includes admission to the Planetarium.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Visitors looking at horse armor on display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Home to over 240,000 objects, artifacts, and works of art, The Philadelphia Museum of Art is one of the largest art museums in the US and one of the most visited art museums in the world.

Explore artwork consisting of more than 2,000 years of artwork from all over the world, including Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States –and artwork by local Philadelphia artists like Thomas Eakins.

You’ll see a range of styles and famous works of art, such as: Pablo Picasso’s Nous autres musiciens (Three Musicians) 1921, Vincent van Gogh’s Vase with Twelve Sunflowers, 1889, Claude Monet’s Poplars (Autumn) 1891, Pierre-August Renoir’s The Large Bathers 1887, Claude Monet’s Japanese Bridge and Water Lilies 1899, Paul Cézanne’s The Bathers 1898-1905, Marcel Duchamp’s La sonate (Sonata) 1911, a many more.

Insider tip: subscribe to the Museum’s free audio podcasts and listen before you go—they include info about the exhibits, self-guided museum tours, topical lectures, and more.

Fun fact: the Philadelphia Museum of Art was featured in the Rocky films; try re-creating your own iconic Rocky photo by posing on the front entrance stairs (informally known as the ‘Rocky Steps’) and take a picture with the bronze statue from Rocky III and Rocky V.

Getting in: Philadelphia Museum of Art tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass. Your pass gets you free general admission for 2 consecutive days at the Museum’s main building, Perelman Building, Rodin Museum, and the historic houses Cedar Grove (seasonal) and Mount Pleasant.

National Constitution Center

bronze statues at the National Constitution Center

The National Constitution Center explores the history and modern day importance of the U.S. Constitution through interactive exhibits, theatrical performances, artifacts, film, and more.

Join in on current-day debates, vote for your favorite President, get sworn in with the Presidential Oath of Office, take the seat of a Supreme Court Justice, and more—all in the name of honoring the Constitution.

Insider tip: download the FREE, Interactive Constitution app before you go to enhance your visit.

Getting in: National Constitution Center tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass. Your General Admission ticket includes a timed ticket to Freedom Rising, admission to The Story of We the People and Signers’ Hall, and all regular exhibits.

Philadelphia Zoo

Lions at the Philadelphia Zoo

Get up close to over 1,600 rare and exotic animals at America’s first zoo, the Philadelphia Zoo.

You’ll get to see all types of animals, from insects and reptiles to large carnivores, primates, birds, and more. Visitors can travel the world through the zoo’s variety of habitats; from the southern white rhinoceroses, hippos, and giraffes of the African Plains to the red kangaroos, emus of Australia and more.

Kids (and adults) can visit the petting yard to touch friendly animals and attend daily live animal shows. Be sure to look up at the zoo’s innovative ‘Zoo360 system’ of overhead tunnels that allow large cats like leopards, lions, tigers, and pumas to roam from one habitat to another—right over your head as you walk along the exhibits!

Getting in: Philadelphia Zoo tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Barnes Foundation

Visitors looking at a painting at the Barnes Foundation

Housing over 2,000 masterpieces spanning the 19th and 20th centuries, the Barnes Foundation is one of the world’s most significant collections of impressionist, post-impressionist, and modern European artwork.

Explore the museum’s unique ‘ensembles’ created by the museum’s founder himself, Dr. Barnes. These displays feature densely grouped objects and works of art that stand to highlight visual similarities, like light, line color, space, etc. among objects from various cultures, time periods, and more.

The museum collection features pieces by many iconic artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Chaim Soutine, and more.

Getting in: Barnes Foundation tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Academy of Natural Science

Dinosaurs at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia

Visit ecosystems from around the world, come face-to-face with dinosaur skeletons, meet live animals, dig for fossils, and more at the Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University.

Historically accurate dioramas – a fusion or art and science – transport visitors to the great outdoors to learn about plant and animal life from Pennsylvania, the US, and far beyond.

Kids can become a scientist for the day at the Academy of Natural Sciences’ Children’s Discovery Center, featuring lots of hands-on activities with real science experts.

Insider tip: check out the Academy’s schedule in advance if you want to plan your visit around their daily Naturalist Shows.

Getting in: Academy of Natural Science tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Mutter Museum

Glass Cases at the Mutter Museum Philadelphia

Explore human anatomy and medical anomalies at the Mutter Museum and learn about the fascinating history of medicine and what it means to be human.

The museum features a variety of preserved anatomical human specimens, including skulls and other osteological body parts, brains and major organs preserved in jars, even some things that shouldn’t be in the body (like cysts and tumors), and medical instruments from the past (that shockingly were believed to be effective and used until proven otherwise).

One of the museum’s highlights is its possession of pieces of Albert Einstein’s brain displayed in cross-sections preserved in glass.

Getting in: Mutter Museum tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Battleship New Jersey

Aerial View of the Battleship New  Jersey Museum and Memorial

Take a tour of one of the largest battleships at The Battleship New Jersey Museum and Memorial, our nation’s most decorated battleship (having served in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam).

Explore the ship with a self-guided, docent-assisted audio tour. You’ll get to explore 5 levels up and 2 decks below the USS New Jersey.

You’ll learn all about 48 years of the ship’s history in the Main Deck exhibit and get to see what life was like aboard the ship for the crew and all of those who served on the vessel.  Visitors can go inside the ship’s gun turrets where 2,700 pound shells were loaded and fired, check out the Combat Engagement Center’s radar and sonar tracking displays, and more.

Insider tip: wear comfortable shoes and dress for a breeze – tours of the ship involve climbing steep stairs and navigating through some tighter spaces.

Getting in: Battleship New Jersey tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass. General Admission tickets include FREE Fire Power Tour tickets and an optional audio guide with supplemental information about exhibits and artifacts on the ship.

Independence Seaport Museum

Boat Construction at the Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia

Learn all about Philadelphia’s maritime history and the important role it played in shaping the history of Philadelphia and the United States at the Independence Seaport Museum, located in the historic Penn’s Landing – just a short distance from Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.

The museum’s exhibits are hands-on and highly interactive; see over 1,000 works of art, learn about various ship models, watch the construction of the boat in the shop, climb on board two National Historic Landmarks (Admiral Dewey’s 1892 cruiser OLYMPIA and the WWII submarine BECUNA), and more.

Getting in: Independence Seaport Museum tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

National Museum of American Jewish History

interactive displays at the National Museum of American-Jewish History

Explore and celebrate the American Jewish experience and learn about 350 years of the history and culture of Jews in America at the National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH).

You’ll get to explore universal themes, such as immigration, worship, hard work, entertainment, community, family life, and more through the museum’s extensive collection of artifacts, films, and more featured throughout the museum’s hands-on displays.

Getting in: National Museum of American Jewish History tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

National Liberty Museum/We the People

Exhibits at the National Liberty Museum

Explore freedom as it relates to you and our shared American history at the National Liberty Museum through the museum’s exciting collection of contemporary art, interactive exhibits, and galleries.

Want to hear freedom ring? Ask one of the staff members to ring the replica of the Liberty Bell in the Welcome to Liberty gallery and then take a picture with the bell (unlike the real one, you can actually get up close to and touch this one).

Getting in: National Liberty Museum/We the People tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

African American Museum

Interactive Exhibits at the African-American Museum in Philadelphia

Visit the African American Museum in Philadelphia (AAMP) and learn all about the lives, accomplishments, heritage, and culture of African Americans and the people of the Diaspora.

The museum’s fascinating exhibits highlight three major themes of the African American experience: the African Diaspora, the Philadelphia Story (which focuses on African Americans of Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley, and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania), and a Contemporary Narrative.

Through art, history, and cultural displays, the museum’s exhibits will usher you through an African American story of a range of topics, including family life, the Civil Rights movement, arts, entertainment, medicine, architecture, politics, religion, law, technology, and more that promote visitors to keep an ongoing dialogue about issues important to the African American community today.

Getting in: African American Museum tickets are included on The Philadelphia Pass.

University of PA Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology

Ancient Egypt Exhibit at the University of PA Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Explore the human story, who we are and where we come from, at one of the world’s leading anthropology and archaeology museums at the Penn Museum.

From ancient Egypt to China, Mexico, and everywhere in between, you’ll get to explore the world and human history through the museum’s almost 1 million objects of art and artifacts.

Getting in: University of PA Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Philadelphia History Museum

The Power of Objects Display at the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent Museum

Visit an outstanding collection of objects, artifacts, and artwork dating from the 1680s to today that chronicles the lives of Philadelphians and the city’s rich history at the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent.

From William Penn’s utopian plans for the city to recent urban revival projects and plans, you’ll find a new appreciation for Philadelphia’s past and leave with a better understanding of its present. The museum explores the diversity of Philadelphia’s residents and its various neighborhoods through hands-on exhibits that feature interactive technology and multimedia presentations.

Getting in: Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent Museum tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass

The Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum

Simeone Automotive Museum

Automotive and racecar fans will have a blast visiting one of the greatest collections of racing sports cars in the world.

The Simeone Automotive Museum features over 65 of the rarest and most significant race cars ever built from the early 1900s to today that visitors can explore through the museum’s “The Spirit of Competition Theme” that celebrates how competition is crucial to progress in the automotive industry as it is in nature.

Some of the makes you’ll see include Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Mercedes, Jaguar, Bentley, Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette, Ford, and more.

Tip: check the museum’s calendar to see if you’ll be there during a “Demonstration Day” when you can see some of the museum’s cars raced in a 3-acre backlot controlled environment.

Getting in: The Simeone Automotive Museum tickets are included with The Philadelphia.

American Helicopter Museum and Education Center

Helicopter outside the American Helicopter Museum in Philadelphia

Learn about the development and evolution of rotary-wing flight and let your imagination take flight at the American Helicopter Museum and Education Center.

This hands-on museum features entertaining and immersive exhibits, like flight simulators where you can get into a helicopter and operate the controls to ‘pilot’ the flight.

From human-powered helicopters to life-saving helicopters (like M.A.S.H.) and civilian use to military use, you’ll get to see lots of different kinds of helicopters with the museum’s collection of over 35 helicopters on display. A visit to the museum is a fascinating lesson in all things helicopter innovation, flight, and beyond.

Getting in: American Helicopter Museum and Education Center tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass and include the flight simulator experiences.

Academy of Fine Arts

Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia

The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA) explores the transformative power of art and art-making through its iconic collections of 19th and 20th century American paintings, sculptures, photographs, and more.

At PAFA, you’ll get to see famous and historically important works of art while also learning new skills and adapting the tools needed to understand and contribute to the ongoing discourse about American art at the museum and in general—it’s a great resource for art historians, curators, and beginners alike!

Getting in: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass. Your PAFA tickets include free admission to both the Historic Landmark Building and the Samuel M.V. Hamilton Building.

Brandywine Conservancy

Brandywine Conservancy in Philadelphia

See an outstanding collection of American Art with a focus on Brandywine Valley artists and explore three generations of Wyeth family artwork, famous American illustrations, still lifes, landscape paintings, and more at an architecturally-stunning building in itself, the Brandywine River Museum of Art.

Although it’s widely known for its un-matched, extensive collection of Wyeth family artwork, the Brandywine River Museum of Art features a diverse collection of Heritage American artwork.

Iconic masterpieces you can see at the museum include Roasted Chestnuts by Andrew Wyeth, The Valley of Brandywine, Chester County (September) by William T. Richards, Bowie Knife, Keyed Bugle and Canteen by John F. Peto, Gilpin’s Mill on the Brandywine by Thomas Doughty, In a Dream I Meet General Washington by N.C. Wyeth, Portrait of a Pig by Jamie Wyeth, and lots more.

Getting in: Brandywine Conservancy tickets are included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Liberty Bell Museum

Located in Allentown, PA, the Liberty Bell Museum is the place where the actual Liberty Bell (now on display in Philadelphia) found refuge during the Revolution and where you can ring an exact replica copy of the bell.

You’ll get to see the excavated area underneath the Zion’s Church where the Liberty Bell was hidden in 1962 in an attempt to preserve America’s most sacred symbol of freedom.

Learn the story of the Liberty Bell: its creation, history, and more and explore the museum’s Revolutionary War and Colonial America exhibits.

Getting in: Liberty Bell Museum tickets are available for purchase upon arrival. Please note: tickets are not included with The Philadelphia Pass.

Rodin Museum

Beautiful facade of the Rodin Museum

Visit the largest collection of artwork outside of Paris by 19th-century sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Largely credited for helping to pioneer modern sculpture, you’ll get to see some of his most famous masterpieces, including The Thinker, The Gates of Hell, Adam, Eve, and more up close so you can see how the artist used aspects of realism (a radical idea at the time) to convey human emotion and psychology.

Explore the museum’s several rooms and collection that represent every phase of Rodin’s career and spend some time enjoying the artwork and scenery in the museum’s garden.

Getting in: The Rodin Museum tickets are included on The Philadephia Pass.

Remember to Save on Museum Admission

Remember, many of these options are included on The Philadelphia Pass, where you can save up to 45% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Whether you’re looking to add a couple of museums into your Philadelphia sightseeing itinerary or want to work your way through them all, be sure to save on admission with The Philadelphia Pass – the more you do, the more you save.

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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