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Best Science Museum (2021)

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From dinosaurs to nanotechnology, science and natural history come alive at these museums across the continent.

  • Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

    Center of Science and Industry (COSI)
    Columbus, Ohio

    COSI offers a wide array of permanent exhibits and hosts a few traveling ones, too. If space isn't of interest, check out the American Museum of Natural History Dinosaur Gallery and Ohio’s largest Planetarium, or maybe take a tour of the ancient stories of the sea hosted by Poseidon himself. Lift a 2,437-pound car with the help of a lever in the outdoor Big Science park. The museum plans to re-open on June 3.
    Photo courtesy of Robb McCormick Photography

  • Liberty Science Center

    Liberty Science Center
    Jersey City, New Jersey

    The Liberty Science Center is a 300,000-square-foot learning center in Liberty State Park, where visitors of all ages can experience the fun side of science through 12 exhibition halls, a 3D theater, the Jennifer Chalsty Planetarium (the largest planetarium in the entire Western Hemisphere), a tornado-force wind simulator and a live animal collection with 110 species. Kid favorites include Wild About Animals, where guests learn about how animals catch food without becoming food themselves, the multistory Infinity Climber and the Touch Tunnel, where guests must rely on their sense of touch to navigate the pitch black space.
    Photo courtesy of Liberty Science Center

  • Tellus Science Museum

    Tellus Science Museum
    Cartersville, Georgia

    This 120,000-square-foot museum in Georgia comprises four main galleries dedicated to minerals, fossils, science in motion and backyard science. Visitors can also explore space in the 120-seat digital planetarium or gaze at the stars through a 20-inch telescope. Other highlights include an 80-foot Apatosaurus and a replica Wright flyer. Visits are currently by advanced timed tickets only.
    Photo courtesy of Tellus Science Museum

  • The Franklin Institute

    The Franklin Institute
    Philadelphia

    The Franklin Institute is a hands-on science museum that seeks to create a passion for science and tech in everyone. It holds the distinction of being Pennsylvania’s most visited museum, featuring 12 interactive exhibits that explore science – from sports to space – plus world-class special exhibitions. In the museum’s rotunda, a 20-foot-tall marble statue pays homage to the institute’s namesake, scientist and Founding Father.
    Photo courtesy of The Franklin Institute

  • Michigan Science Center

    Michigan Science Center
    Detroit

    The Michigan Science Center promotes creative and dynamic STEM learning through a series of interactive exhibits. This Detroit cultural district institution features live stage shows, an IMAX Dome, 4D theater, planetarium and 8,700 square feet of exhibit space with more than 200 hands-on activities and exhibits.
    Photo courtesy of Michigan Science Center

  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science

    Denver Museum of Nature & Science
    Denver

    This natural science museum in Denver features an IMAX theater, planetarium and plenty of interactive exhibits on everything from prehistoric dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies to virtual reality and genetics. The temporary exhibitions shine – right now visitors can learn more about Sue, the fearsome T.rex fossil.
    Photo courtesy of Denver Museum of Nature & Science

  • Bishop Museum

    Bishop Museum
    Honolulu

    Since its founding in 1889 as a repository for Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's family artifacts, this museum has ascended to become the state's premiere institution for documenting the area's natural history. In addition to a planetarium, the museum’s exhibits also cover botany, entomology, ichthyology and zoology. Don’t miss the Richard T Mamiya Science Adventure Center – a 16,500-square-foot facility of hands-on, immersive exhibits focusing on the environment of the Hawaiian archipelago.
    Photo courtesy of Bishop Museum

  • Perot Museum of Nature and Science

    Perot Museum of Nature and Science
    Dallas

    Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate Thom Mayne, this stunning 180,000-square-foot science museum on the outer edge of the Arts District boasts five floors of interactive exhibits focusing on everything from earth and space to geology, paleontology and engineering. Highlights include a children's museum with a dinosaur dig, an earthquake simulator and a gallery of gems and minerals featuring a 5-foot geode.
    Photo courtesy of Kaitlyn Kilpatrick / Perot Museum of Nature and Science

  • Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

    Fort Worth Museum of Science and History
    Fort Worth, Texas

    The Fort Worth Museum of Science and History features 166,000 square feet of gallery space and welcomes some half a million guests each year. Exhibits cover a range of science topics, from animals of Texas to dinosaurs to space exploration. The museum is temporarily closed.
    Photo courtesy of Fort Worth Museum of Science and History

  • Saint Louis Science Center

    Saint Louis Science Center
    St. Louis

    The Saint Louis Science Center offers a free place to learn and play through more than 700 interactive experiences across 10 galleries. The museum features an indoor-outdoor agricultural pavilion, four-story OMNIMAX Theater and the McDonnell Planetarium.
    Photo courtesy of Saint Louis Science Center

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

  1. Center of Science and Industry (COSI) - Columbus, Ohio
  2. Liberty Science Center - Jersey City, New Jersey
  3. Tellus Science Museum - Cartersville, Georgia
  4. The Franklin Institute - Philadelphia
  5. Michigan Science Center - Detroit
  6. Denver Museum of Nature & Science - Denver
  7. Bishop Museum - Honolulu
  8. Perot Museum of Nature and Science - Dallas
  9. Fort Worth Museum of Science and History - Fort Worth, Texas
  10. Saint Louis Science Center - St. Louis

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 science museums!

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