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Best History Museum (2021)

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Whether you’re interested in millennia of human history or centuries of American history, you can learn a lot about the past with a visit to one of these excellent history museums. Some have broad, encyclopedic collections, while others narrow in on a certain chapter or facet of history.

  • National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center

    National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center
    Columbus, Georgia

    Free immersive exhibits at the National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center in Columbus take visitors through 240 years of U.S. history through the lens of what it means to be a U.S. soldier. It's one of the world's top military museums and one of the top rated attractions in Columbus. The museum is temporarily closed to the public.

  • National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

    National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
    Cincinnati, Ohio

    Located on the banks of the Ohio River near downtown Cincinnati, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center reveals the moving stories of the Underground Railroad, Martin Luther King's march from Selma and the millions of people still enslaved in the world today.
    Photo courtesy of Farshid Assassi/ Assassi Productions

  • National Museum of the Marine Corps

    National Museum of the Marine Corps
    Triangle, Virginia

    This 135-acre museum site chronicles the history and heritage of the United States Marine Corps. The structure itself is meant to resemble the image of raising the flag and Iwo Jima, while the collection within includes artifacts from 240 years of corps history – uniforms, weapons, medals, flags, aircraft, vehicles and works of art. The museum is temporarily closed.
    Photo courtesy of National Museum of the Marine Corps

  • The Mob Museum

    The Mob Museum
    Las Vegas

    The National Museum of Organized Crime & Law Enforcement, or the Mob Museum for short, documents the darker side of American history by examining the effect organized crime has had on society. Exhibits cover the Prohibition era, organized crime today, forensic lab techniques and law enforcement methods.
    Photo courtesy of The Mob Museum

  • USS Constitution Museum

    USS Constitution Museum
    Boston

    The USS Constitution Museum relates the storied 200-year history of the USS Constitution, which was first launched in the late 18th century and is now recognized as the world's oldest commissioned warship. During her years at sea, the Constitution saw conflict with pirates and even experienced heralded victories during the War of 1812. You can tour the ship itself in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
    Photo courtesy of USS Constitution Museum

  • Museum of History & Industry

    Museum of History & Industry
    Seattle

    Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI) ranks as Washington State’s largest private heritage organization, with a collection of some four million historic objects, documents and photographs. Visitors can dive into the history of the Puget Sound region through the collection, with highlights like a Boeing B-1 plane, Rainier Brewing Company’s original “R” sign and a petticoat flag from the Battle of Seattle.
    Photo courtesy of Museum of History & Industry

  • Independence Seaport Museum

    Independence Seaport Museum
    Philadelphia

    Located on Philadelphia's waterfront, the Independence Seaport Museum explores the maritime history of the Delaware River. Visitors find interactive exhibits explaining how boats float, the cargo unloading process for container ships and undersea technology. Just outside the museum in the Penn's Landing Marina are two ships to explore: the Olympia, Admiral Dewey's flagship in the Spanish-American War, and World War II Submarine Becuna.
    Photo courtesy of Independence Seaport Museum

  • National WWII Museum

    National WWII Museum
    New Orleans

    The extensive and often interactive exhibits at the National WWII Museum bring to life the events of the latest World War and its aftermath. The collection includes vintage propaganda posters, oral histories from more than 7,000 military personnel, a 4D theater and a collection of wartime aircraft.
    Photo courtesy of National WWII Museum

  • Museum of Native American History

    Museum of Native American History
    Bentonville, Arkansas

    The Museum of Native American History invites visitors to step back in time and meet the state's first inhabitants. Among the collection of artifacts are pieces dating back some 14,000 years; highlights include the famous Sweetwater Biface and a wooly mammoth skeleton from the Ice Age. The museum reopened in April with reimagined exhibits, new displays and an overhauled gift shop.
    Photo courtesy of Museum of Native American History

  • The Henry Ford

    The Henry Ford
    Dearborn, Michigan

    The Henry Ford, located in the Detroit metro area, showcases the development of technology in the U.S. and documents the width and breadth of American inventions and innovation. The facility occupies nine acres and includes exhibits on agriculture, the automobile, freedom, timepieces, home appliances, jewelry and presidential limousines. Thematic itineraries, including one title OnWheels, provide a more directed focus for visitors.
    Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

The top 10 winners in the category Best History Museum are as follows:

  1. National Infantry Museum & Soldier Center - Columbus, Georgia
  2. National Underground Railroad Freedom Center - Cincinnati, Ohio
  3. National Museum of the Marine Corps - Triangle, Virginia
  4. The Mob Museum - Las Vegas
  5. USS Constitution Museum - Boston
  6. Museum of History & Industry - Seattle
  7. Independence Seaport Museum - Philadelphia
  8. National WWII Museum - New Orleans
  9. Museum of Native American History - Bentonville, Arkansas
  10. The Henry Ford - Dearborn, Michigan

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.

Congratulations to all these winning history museums!

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Marla Cimini

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Eric Grossman

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