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Best New Museum (2021)

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Each year brings a slew of new collections (or new facilities for old collections) for museum lovers. These museums, ranging from avant-garde art galleries to colorful children’s museums, represent the best openings of the past two years since the beginning of 2019. 

  • Cook Museum of Natural Science

    Cook Museum of Natural Science
    Decatur, Alabama

    The Cook Museum opened in 2019 as a state-of-the-art natural science museum in downtown Decatur. Inside, visitors will find a 15,000-gallon saltwater aquarium, a recreated Alabama cave, an indoor forest with its own treetop cabin and interactive exhibits focused on topics like the Arctic and desert environments, waterways, insects, space and geology.
    Photo courtesy of Cook Museum of Natural Science

  • U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

    U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum
    Colorado Springs, Colorado

    This new museum honors the athletes and ideals of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The 60,000-square-foot facility comprises 12 interactive galleries with some of the most accessible museum experiences in the world. Team USA athletes consulted on the project to ensure an authentic experience.
    Photo courtesy of Nic Lehoux / U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

  • Oklahoma Contemporary

    Oklahoma Contemporary
    Oklahoma City

    The Oklahoma Contemporary re-launched in its new downtown OKC facilities in March, 2020. The new building, designed by Rand Elliott Architects to reflect the light and the sky, gives even more space for free exhibitions and programming.
    Photo courtesy of Oklahoma Contemporary

  • Mascot Hall of Fame

    Mascot Hall of Fame
    Whiting, Indiana

    2019 saw the opening of the Mascot Hall of Fame in Indiana, a new museum “celebrating the unsung heroes of sports and communities.” This kid-friendly space includes a t-shirt shooter, sports court and interactive playground area, hands-on Science of Silliness Lab and a Build-A-Mascot Workshop from Build-A-Bear.
    Photo courtesy of Mascot Hall of Fame

  • Harriet Tubman Museum

    Harriet Tubman Museum
    Cape May, New Jersey

    The Harriet Tubman Museum in Cape May was introduced in September 2020 with a ribbon cutting ceremony with the New Jersey Governor. Tubman lived in Cape May in the early 1850s, and the museum sits on a block that was the hub of anti-slavery activities in the city.
    Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

  • American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

    American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog
    New York

    New York’s AKC Museum of the Dog celebrates the role of man’s best friend in society at its new home on Park Avenue. The collection features some 1,700 pieces, displayed in rotating exhibits, as well as a 4,000-volume library. Interactive experiences explore dogs at work help match visitors with their ideal breed.
    Photo courtesy of David Woo / American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog

  • National Museum of the United States Army

    National Museum of the United States Army
    Fort Belvoir, Virginia

    The National Museum of the United States Army tells the story of more than 245 years of the Army and our nation’s soldiers from the Army, Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. Admission is free, and exhibits cover topics like the Cold War, World Wars I and II, soldiers’ stories and the founding of America. The museum is temporarily closed.
    Photo courtesy of Duane Lempke / National Museum of the United States Army

  • Poster House

    Poster House
    New York

    This new museum in New York is also the first museum in the nation dedicated entirely to posters, from their first appearance in the 1800s to their many uses today. The collection explores how these works of art are used to communicate, persuade and sell through the lenses of design and societal norms.
    Photo courtesy of Michael Moran/OTTO (designed by LTL Architects)

  • National Museum of African American Music

    National Museum of African American Music
    Nashville

    The National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM) is the only museum in the nation dedicated to the music genres created and influenced by African Americans. Musical heroes of the past and present come to life through a collection of stage costumes, instruments, sheet music, recording equipment and photographs from many genres.
    Photo courtesy of National Museum of African American Music

  • Planet Word

    Planet Word
    Washington, DC

    This new museum at the historic Franklin School in Washington, DC celebrates language in all its forms. The world’s first voice-activated museum features interactive galleries that tell the story of how we learn to speak our first language, where words come from and the diversity of the world’s languages.
    Photo courtesy of DuHon Photography / Planet Word

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

  1. Cook Museum of Natural Science - Decatur, Alabama
  2. U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum - Colorado Springs, Colorado
  3. Oklahoma Contemporary - Oklahoma City
  4. Mascot Hall of Fame - Whiting, Indiana
  5. Harriet Tubman Museum - Cape May, New Jersey
  6. American Kennel Club Museum of the Dog - New York
  7. National Museum of the United States Army - Fort Belvoir, Virginia
  8. Poster House - New York
  9. National Museum of African American Music - Nashville
  10. Planet Word - Washington, DC

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 museums!

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Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Marla Cimini

Eric Grossman

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Gerrish Lopez

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Corinne Whiting

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