Best Museums in Miami

Miami's 10 Best Museums Bring History, Art, And Science To The Masses

A visit to a museum should be on everyone's to do list when venturing into a new city. In fact, it should be part of everyone's to do list when simply exploring their own neighborhood, as well. 

Although other major metropolitan areas come to mind when discussing museums (New York, D.C., Paris), Miami has made strides to become a beacon for cultural enrichment.

When it comes to art, for example, we've got a number of well-renowned facilities like the Lowe Art Museum on the University of Miami campus and the Frost Art Museum, located at FIU South.

If you're visiting with kids, places like Wings over Miami and the Gold Coast Railroad Museum are excellent choices that will keep young ones happy.

And those who can't get enough of the past will be delighted with a visit to HistoryMiami.

No matter what types of museums tickle your fancy, the Magic City has plenty to offer.


Wings Over Miami

Wings Over Miami is a truly special museum, curating to aviation afficionados. This museum preserves and restores all kinds of vintage aircrafts, allowing visitors to view the classic planes up close with the help of staff members. Numerous military and civilian aircraft are on display, as well as a variety of engines and propellers, all of which are sure to delight even the youngest of museum-goers. Repeat visits are recommended as the planes on display tend to change over time. Popular special events include a Memorial Day Extravaganza and an RC Model Show. A quality gift shop is also located on-site.

Recommended for Museums because: While it may not be large, it is certainly a unique and fun-filled experience, and an excellent option for families west of the Palmetto.

Priscilla's expert tip: Call ahead to find out if any planes will be flying while you visit.

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Those who grew up in Miami in the 80s and 90s have fond memories of field trips and visits to the old Miami Science Museum. But these days, we're more than thrilled to take the next generation to visit the newer iteration: The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Located in the heart of downtown Miami, this 250,000-square-foot museum features a variety of experiences and exhibitions dedicated to science and innovation. Ocean lovers will be thrilled by the multi-level Aquarium, each level dedicated to different habitats and a variety of aquatic creatures from mahi-mahi and mangroves, to coral reefs and jellyfish, and beyond. The 250-seat Planetarium is the perfect place to see the planets, stars, and galaxies in a whole new way. And what science museum would be complete without a few dinosaurs? Visitors will love learning all about Pterosaurs–"the flying reptilian creatures that once roamed the earth–"in the current Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs exhibit, the largest exhibition of its kind in the States (open through September).

Recommended for Museums because: A robust aquarium filled with fascinating sea creatures, a state-of-the-art planetarium, and fun hands-on exhibits would make anyone a fan of the Frost.

Priscilla's expert tip: Visit their social media pages often for updates on museum-related events around town plus news on when its doors will finally open to the public.

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The Bass Museum of Art first opened its doors in 1964 and is a popular attraction on South Beach. Located right on Collins Ave and just a hop, skip, and jump away from the ocean, the Bass' collection started out with a generous donation of Renaissance and Baroque artwork. It has since expanded, and its rotating exhibitions focus mainly on international contemporary art. The Bass is responsible for a number of community outreach programs as well as classes and workshops for adults and educators, as well as art camps and portfolio classes children. The museum will re-open its doors in spring 2017.

Recommended for Museums because: The Bass' expansive collection of European art plus their cutting edge contemporary exhibitions make them a true contender in Miami's museum scene.

Priscilla's expert tip: While the Bass is closed temporarily for renovations, check out their temporary bassX gallery at the nearby Miami Beach Regional Library.

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Train lovers and history buffs are in for a treat when they visit the Gold Coast Railroad Museum. Tucked away inside the same lot that leads to ZooMiami, this museum houses over 40 historical railroad cars, including streamlined passenger cars, old freight cars, and steam and diesel locomotives. The museum is also home to the Ferdinand Magellan, the U.S. No. 1 Presidential Car. It is the county's first National Historic Landmark. Built in 1928, the Ferdinand Magellan was used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt himself. GCRM admits visitors free of charge on the first Saturday of every month and is also the venue of many children's events, most notable of which are the Polar Express event in December and the Day out With Thomas every Spring.

Recommended for Museums because: What other museum in Miami features train rides? It's also a favorite amongst our youngest 10Best readers, so we had to include it.

Priscilla's expert tip: If you're looking for a good museum for children, this is definitely it.

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The Jewish Museum of Florida, located South of Fifth in two historic buildings (connected by Bessie's Bistro), is a unique property. It documents the settlement and continued integration of Jews and Jewish life in Florida since 1763. As a cultural institution, it has established traveling and permanent exhibits, multi-cultural education and public outreach programs, and archived materials that range from matzoh boxes to mah-jong boards. The museum's mission is to teach tolerance in a world of diversity, and its research and collections are used by historians from all over the globe. But the museum avoids being didactic by presenting exhibits with humor (it once built a house from bagels and other Jewish breads), and achieves poignancy with continually donated personal items and photos of historical significance. The public is welcome via regular museum hours, guided docent tours, readings from Jewish authors and other community events.

Recommended for Museums because: The Jewish Museum of Florida is a wonderfully unique fixture to Miami's museum scene, celebrating Jewish culture while educating the public about Jewish history.

Priscilla's expert tip: Check their website for special events like their Jewish Food Walking Tours, film sing-a-longs, kids nights out, and more.

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The Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami first opened to the public in 1996. The facility has 23,000 square feet of exhibition space, and houses more than 400 permanent installations from artists such as Larry Rivers, Claes Oldenburg, and Jasper Johns. With eight to ten changing exhibits annually, even more artists are represented. Special programs on offer include a jazz concert series on the last Friday of every month, workshops for kids and adults, lectures and discussions with artists like Frank Stella, video and film screenings, and classical music concerts. The Museum Shop is open during regular museum hours.

Recommended for Museums because: Few museums offer free admission along with a noteworthy concert once a month. This coupled with their often edgy exhibitions makes the MOCA a must.

Priscilla's expert tip: Hit up the free jazz concerts held once a month on Fridays, and make sure to bring a picnic while you're at it.

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Once upon a time, FIU's art museum wasn't much more than two small open spaces held within the same building as a number of classrooms and offices. In recent years, though, it has been moved into its own free-standing building right on the Modesto A. Maidique campus in Sweetwater, boasting over 40,000 visitors annually. Designed by Yann Weymouth, the 46,000 square foot exhibition space is impressive outside and in. Among its permanent collection, you'll find pre-Colombian objects, African art, photography, and printmaking from the 60s and 70s. Considering its proximity to the Caribbean and the Americas, they've also got a growing number of pieces from these countries as well. Visitors will also find a sculpture garden on the outside, available for viewing 24 hours a day.

Recommended for Museums because: The Frost is always free and events are often open to the public, making it essential to the community and to 10Best readers.

Priscilla's expert tip: Make a day of it by visiting the museum and then dining on campus, attending a lecture, or checking out the library or school book store (which is actually a Barnes & Noble with plenty of comfortable seating).

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Lowe Art Museum

Situated inside the University of Miami, this long-standing museum is a favorite for UM students and the Coral Gables community. The Lowe is home to a well-rounded collection of art from the Italian Renaissance, Baroque, Greco-Roman, and Spanish Old Masters, among others. The museum also holds a sizeable assortment of Native American, African, and Asian art and antiquities. Aside from their permanent collection and rotating exhibitions, the Lowe is also a venue for a number of community events, including a monthly lecture series, occasional children's programs, and even art classes for adults (complete with wine to get the creative juices flowing!)

Recommended for Museums because: Their impressive permanent collection plus their various community events make the Lowe a favorite amongst 10Best readers.

Priscilla's expert tip: Take advantage of checking this special private university museum free of charge through May 31, 2022 thanks to Beaux Arts. Check the website after that date to see if admission has returned to the usual cost or will remain free!

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HistoryMiami doesn't sound like the name of a historical museum, which is exactly what its board members had in mind. The less-bulky name signified a new direction for what was previously called the Historical Museum of Southern Florida. Today, the museum, which actually began as a historical association in 1940 continues to offer the exhibits that were developed throughout the previous decades, as well as incorporating new ones. Now a a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate, the facility has a newfound ability to launch its own collections and publications, as well as lend and borrow traveling exhibits. In addition, the famed Miami Circle site, unearthed downtown when a new building was being planned, has been incorporated as part of the museum. Ciity tours of the Circle are offered, as well as eco-history bus, boat and walking tours of external attractions ranging from Calle Ocho to the Everglades.

Recommended for Museums because: HistoryMiami is the city's only museum dedicated to preserving its past. Also, they host fantastic tours and have a research center open to the public.

Priscilla's expert tip: Check out their website for schedule of tours around town. Their Stiltsville Cruise is not to be missed.

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Once upon a time, Miami's place for modern art downtown was known as the Miami Art Museum. It was a well-sized museum adjacent to the Government Center and was a mish mash of contemporary and modern art from around the world. But in 2013, the former MAM outgrew its old home and was transported to a waterfront lot that, in conjunction with the soon-to-be-open Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum, would become Museum Park. What resulted is the wonderfully extravagant Perez Art Museum Miami. The museum continues to display modern and contemporary works of the 20th and 21st century, with a larger focus on Caribbean and North and South American culture. Along with its permanent collections and rotating exhibitions, the museum also educational programs for all ages, an outdoor music series, daily tours, evening artist talks and lectures, plus workshops, performances, and more.

Recommended for Museums because: The PAMM is an impressive, innovative museum with plenty of after hours events and an aesthetic beauty that can't be denied.

Priscilla's expert tip: Feel free to leave your car behind and ride the metromover, then walk right across the street to this beautiful art museum.

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Meet Priscilla Blossom

Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.

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