Visiting a museum is always a unique experience, as each one has its own distinct characteristics, style, and of course, content. Museum subjects vary greatly from city to city, and can range from firefighter's museums to fine art, to sports. If you need help making a selection, our 10Best list highlights the top spots to visit in Cincinnati.

Vent Haven Museum
Located just south of Cincinnati in Kentucky, this ventriloquist museum houses more than 500 "vent" figures — the collection of the late William Shakespeare Berger, a local businessman and ventriloquism enthusiast. Visits to the museum are by appointment only May through September and must be arranged in advance. (859-341-0461)

National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Cincinnati was an important stop along the Underground Railroad, and this fascinating museum chronicles the history of escaping slaves and those who assisted them along their journeys to freedom. The museum is located downtown near the Ohio River, and permanent exhibits include "Slave Pen," "Escape! Freedom Seekers and the Underground Railroad," "Brothers of the Borderland," 'Everyday Freedom Heroes" and "The Struggle Continues." (513-333-7500, 877-648-4838)

American Sign Museum
There's something about vintage signs that draw people to them, encouraging them to imagine what life was like for the people who passed them everyday when they were in use. That's the beauty of this unique museum - there's plenty of nostalgia to go around. Signs on display include the likes of Elby's Big Boy, Ford, Holiday Inn and more. Tours are by appointment only, so be sure to call ahead. Tours take about 75-90 minutes. (513-258-4020, 513-744-6936)

Contemporary Arts Center
This popular arts center features works by nationally and internationally acclaimed artists, and the second floor houses a sculpture gallery. A non-collecting museum, the Contemporary Arts Center focuses on new works in the areas of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, performance art and new media. It's renowned for an earlier exhibition of works by controversial artist Robert Mapplethorpe. (513-345-8400, 513-721-0390)

Behringer-Crawford Museum
This Covington Park regional museum features pieces largely donated by collector William Behringer. Noted exhibits include the Paleontology Gallery, the 19th Century History Gallery and the River Heritage Gallery. Displays are educational and feature a mix of interests, from local history to folk art and modern advancements. Fossils, minerals, Native American artifacts and Ohio River memorabilia are all on display. (859-491-4003)

Skirball Museum
This museum houses a range of pieces that represent the history and culture of the Jewish people. Exhibit items include art, coins, jewelry and memorabilia. It shares works with the Los Angeles-based Skirball Museum. Call for an appointment to view the collection. (513-221-7444)

Taft Museum
Opened in 1932, this museum houses works by master artists. Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Sargent are just a few of the world-renowned artists whose work is represented. Interesting Chinese and French pieces are included in the collection as well. (513-241-0343)

Cincinnati Fire Museum
This educational museum is housed in a former firehouse and offers exhibits to teach children the importance of fire safety. Interesting displays show fire fighting tips, the history of fire brigades and personal safety rules. Slide down a real fire pole or climb through a fire truck cab! (513-621-5553)

Museum Center at Union Terminal
Housed in the impressive limestone-and-glass Union Terminal, this complex of museums offers a wealth of entertainment and educational opportunities. Reasonably-priced combination tickets grant admission to the OMNIMAX Theater, Cincinnati History Museum, Cinergy Children's Museum, Museum of Natural History & Science, Edge of Appalachia Preserve, and Cincinnati Historical Society Library. Check with the Museum Center for an ever-changing schedule of special events and enhancement programs. (513-287-7000, 800-733-2077)

Cincinnati Art Museum
In the Cincinnati Art Museum's 80 or so galleries, art-lovers can stroll through dozens of galleries. Works span 6000 years and feature pieces from renowned artists such as Warhol, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rembrandt and Gainsborough. Special exhibitions are offered year round. (513-639-2984, 877-472-4226)

Maps and Directions

Vent Haven Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: FORT MITCHELL
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
American Sign Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums, Uniquely Here, Unusual
Neighborhood: Eden Park
Contemporary Arts Center 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Behringer-Crawford Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: COVINGTON
Skirball Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: UPTOWN
Taft Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Cincinnati Fire Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: History Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: DOWNTOWN
Museum Center at Union Terminal 10Best List Arrow
Type: Children's Museums, Family Friendly, History Museums, IMAX Theaters, Museums, Science Museums
Neighborhood: QUEENSGATE
Cincinnati Art Museum 10Best List Arrow
Type: Art Museums, Museums
Neighborhood: Eden Park
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