The Most Iconic Art Museum in Every State (How Many Have You Been To?)

Discover the hidden artistic gems tucked away in every corner of the United States.

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Updated May 28, 2024
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There are thousands of incredible museums across the U.S.

From art and history to cultural heritage centers and botanical gardens, the country’s museums entertain nearly 900 million visitors annually.

With so many unique options, it’s hard to peg down which are worth visiting. To help you avoid wasting money when planning your trip, let‘s focus on the most iconic art museums in every state.

Alabama: Birmingham Museum of Art (Birmingham)

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The Birmingham Museum of Art opened in 1951 in the city’s cultural district and has more than 27,000 pieces of artwork, including everything from paintings and prints to sculpture and decorative arts.

The collections range from contemporary to ancient and include works from cultures all over the world.

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Alaska: Anchorage Museum (Anchorage)

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The Anchorage Museum sits in the traditional homeland of the Eklutna Dena’ina indigenous people.

The museum includes exhibits and artworks meant to honor and educate about Alaska’s native cultures.

For a fascinating history lesson on the Last Frontier, guests can check out the museum’s “Art of the North” exhibit.

Arizona: Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix)

Courtesy of Phoenix Art Museum phoenix art museum

Phoenix Art Museum is home to more than 20,000 works that range from modern to ancient artifacts.

The museum’s exhibits range from a collection on haute fashion to paintings of the American West — and they continue to add and update every year.

Visitors can also check the museum’s calendar for lectures, live performances, and more.

Arkansas: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)

Courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art crystal bridges museum of american art

Mixing contemporary and historical works with miles of natural wonder, Walmart heiress and philanthropist Alice Walton founded the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The museum sits on 120 acres of Ozark forest, and guests can enjoy five miles of sculptures and walking trails. Entry is free for all.

California: The J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles)

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The J. Paul Getty Museum has two locations in the Los Angeles area: the Getty Villa in Malibu and the Getty Center in LA’s Brentwood neighborhood.

The museums house European artworks, including paintings, drawings, sculptures, and manuscripts.

The Getty Villa, which opened in 2006, focuses on the artwork and culture of ancient Greece, Rome, and Etruria.

Colorado: Denver Art Museum (Denver)

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The Denver Art Museum was founded back in 1893. Today, it has 12 eclectic collections with more than 70,000 works of art from around the world.

The collections include contemporary pieces, photography, textiles, fashion, and more. Visitors can also check out the work of local artists from the Rocky Mountain region.

Connecticut: Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven)

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The Yale University Art Gallery, founded in 1832, is home to a massive collection of 300,000 artworks. It’s also the oldest university art museum in the nation.

The museum offers a variety of programs and teaching resources for visitors of all ages and is open to all. Plus, admission is always free.

Delaware: Delaware Art Museum (Wilmington)

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The Delaware Art Museum is home to over 12,000 artworks, with many historic and contemporary American art and British Pre-Raphaelite works.

The museum also has a large sculpture garden with 20 works by nationally recognized artists nestled among beautiful plant life.

Florida: The Salvador Dalí Museum (St. Petersburg)

Courtesy of The Salvador Dalí Museum florida the salvador dali museum

From the building’s incredible design to its “avant-garden,” there’s no shortage of fascinating works at The Salvador Dalí Museum.

The collection features some of the renowned artist’s most well-known works (think melting clocks and more).

The works are housed in a building that combines rational and fantastical elements in the spirit of the artist — including a giant geodesic glass dome known as the “enigma.”

Georgia: High Museum of Art (Atlanta)

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The High Museum of Art in Atlanta prides itself on bringing culture and community together.

The museum has seven themed (and ever-evolving) collections, which include more than 18,000 pieces from around the world.

Collections range from photography and 19th-century sculpture to self-taught art.

Hawaii: Honolulu Museum of Art (Honolulu)

Courtesy of Honolulu Museum of Art hawaii_ honolulu museum of art (1)

Over nearly a century, the Honolulu Museum of Art — located in the heart of Hawaii’s capital — has grown to include more than 50,000 artworks spanning 5,000 years.

The museum has extensive art collections from every corner of the earth from the 19th and 20th centuries. A gallery space dedicated to Hawaii’s historical and modern art was opened in 2001.

Idaho: Boise Art Museum (Boise)

Courtesy of Boise Art Museum idaho_ boise art museum

Boise Art Museum (BAM) first opened back in 1937. Since then, it has grown to include nearly 4,000 works in its permanent collection, plus an ever-evolving roster of fascinating exhibits.

While works in BAM’s collection range from ancient to contemporary and come from all corners of the globe, visitors can also find local art from Idaho and the Northwest.

Illinois: Art Institute of Chicago (Chicago)

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In the heart of downtown, the Art Institute of Chicago is a top destination for travelers. The museum’s collection includes works from across the globe and spans centuries.

It includes works from some of the world’s most well-known and revered artists — from Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso to Georgia O’Keeffe.

Indiana: Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields (Indianapolis)

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Stemming from a small exhibit that opened in 1883, the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) has since moved to the John Herron Art Institute and is one of the largest art museums in the U.S.

The museum’s collections span 5,000 years, all on historic grounds surrounded by gardens, an art and nature park, woodlands, and outdoor sculptures.

Iowa: Des Moines Art Center (Des Moines)

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The Des Moines Art Center boasts an extensive collection focusing mainly on contemporary art. However, visitors can also find the work of famed artists like Henry Ossawa Tanner and Georgia O’Keeffe on display.

Nearby, visitors can also check out Pappajohn Sculpture Park, a 4.4-acre park with more than two dozen incredible works.

Kansas: The Wichita Art Museum (Wichita)

Courtesy the Wichita Art Museum Wichita Art Museum

Since its founding in 1935, the Wichita Art Museum has grown to include a diverse art collection, fascinating exhibits, and grounds full of art in action.

Guests can check out eight acres of sculpture garden around the building, dine at the 1400 by Elderslie restaurant, create art themselves in “the living room,” and more.

Kentucky: Speed Art Museum (Louisville)

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As Kentucky’s oldest and largest art museum, the Speed Art Museum in Louisville opened in 1925 and has grown to offer a “something for all” experience truly.

From ancient works to its “Kentucky collection,” the museum offers an extensive array of art to enjoy, expanded programs, interactive exhibits, and incredible outdoor spaces.

Louisiana: New Orleans Museum of Art (New Orleans)

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An incredible way to spend the day in The Big Easy, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) opened in 1911 and has grown to include more than 50,000 wide-ranging works.

Visitors can also check out the museum’s 12-acre sculpture garden and meander through gorgeous landscapes while enjoying more than 90 beautiful works of art.

Maine: Portland Museum of Art (Portland)

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Initially founded in 1882, the Portland Museum of Art has undergone incredible transformations and seemingly endless growth.

Now, it boasts more than 18,000 works of art from around the world. Visitors can find the work of famed artists like Andy Warhol, Winslow Homer, Claude Monet, and many more.

Maryland: The Walters Art Museum (Baltimore)

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Those visiting the Baltimore area should check out the Walters Art Museum. The campus includes five historic buildings and features artworks spanning seven millennia.

The collection includes 36,000 works, from medieval European and Islamic manuscripts to contemporary Japanese ceramics — and is free to visit.

Massachusetts: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (Boston)

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From humble beginnings in 1876, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston has grown its collection to nearly 500,000 works of art.

Works range from art of the ancient Americas to European sculpture, photography, and even fashion.

Visitors can stroll through different rooms, wings, and galleries, each dedicated to art from different parts of the world.

Michigan: Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit)

Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts michigan detroit institute of arts

Founded in 1885, the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA) has since grown to include a collection of more than 65,000 works.

The massive museum features over 100 galleries and offers an incredible selection of American, European, African, Asian, Oceanic, and Islamic arts.

A Center for African American Art was also established in DIA in 2000.

Minnesota: Minneapolis Institute of Art (Minneapolis)

Courtesy of Minneapolis Institute of Art minnesota minneapolis institute of art

The Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) collection is massive, with more than 90,000 works from six continents.

The museum features small and large galleries devoted to art from different times — spanning about 5,000 years — and areas of the world.

Mississippi: Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson)

Courtesy of Mississippi Museum of Art mississippi museum of art

Founded in 1978, the Mississippi Museum of Art’s collections now include nearly 6,000 works with a particular focus on American art from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Visitors can view work by greats like Robert Henri, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol, and more.

Missouri: Saint Louis Art Museum (St. Louis)

Courtesy of Saint Louis Art Museum missouri saint louis art museum

Founded in 1879, the Saint Louis Art Museum has grown to be an integral part of the community, with a collection of more than 36,000 works from cultures around the world.

The museum is in the heart of Forest Park and is free (though guests may have to pay for some exhibits). There is also a beautiful sculpture park just south of the museum.

Montana: Montana Museum of Art & Culture (Missoula)

Courtesy of Montana Museum of Art & Culture montana museum of art & culture

The Montana Museum of Art & Culture was opened in 1894, shortly after the University of Montana opened its doors. The eclectic museum is free and open to the public.

The collection focuses on works inspired by or created in the Rocky Mountain West and historic European, American, and Southeast Asian collections.

Nebraska: Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha)

Courtesy of Joslyn Art Museum Nebraska_ Joslyn Art Museum

Omaha’s Joslyn Art Museum originally opened in 1931. After almost a century, Joslyn’s collection has grown to include over 11,000 works from around the world.

The museum is mainly known for its collection of Greek pottery, works by Renaissance and Baroque masters, and Impressionist favorites like Claude Monet.

Nevada: Nevada Museum of Art (Reno)

Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art nevada museum of art

Initially founded in 1931, the Nevada Museum of Art moved to its current location in Reno in 2003. The museum (including its design) draws inspiration from its desert home.

Its selection of works is broken up into four themed collections: art of the Greater West, landscape photography, contemporary art, and work ethic in American art.

New Hampshire: Currier Museum of Art (Manchester)

Courtesy of Currier Museum of Art new hampshire_ currier museum of art

With a permanent collection as fascinating as its history, the Currier Museum of Art is always worth a visit. The museum opened just days ahead of the stock market crash of 1929.

Making it through the Great Depression and continuing to expand, Currier’s collection now includes more than 15,000 works representing every medium you can think of.

New Jersey: Princeton University Art Museum (Princeton)

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The humble beginnings of the Princeton University Art Museum date almost as far back as the university itself (which was founded in 1746).

Today, the museum is home to more than 112,000 works that range from ancient to modern and hail from every corner of the earth.

New Mexico: Georgia O'Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe)

Courtesy of Georgia O'Keeffe Museum new mexico_ georgia o'keeffe museum

Fans and newcomers alike can find much to enjoy at Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.

An ode to one of the most well-known names in modern art, the museum offers the most extensive collection of O’Keeffe’s works, personal effects, photographs, and two historic homes.

Much of her work was inspired by the landscape and culture of New Mexico in the 1930s and ’40s.

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New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York City)

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The Met in New York City is one of the most famous museums in the world, as guests can find endless entertainment within its two million square feet of art.

From one of the world's largest collections of Egyptian art and the rare works of Johannes Vermeer to a massive collection of European paintings, The Met truly has something for all.

North Carolina: North Carolina Museum of Art (Raleigh)

Courtesy of North Carolina Museum of Art north carolina museum of art

The North Carolina Museum of Art is known for its incredible offerings of European paintings, Egyptian funerary art, ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, and modern international art.

It also has a vast (164-acre) Museum Park so guests can enjoy the fresh air and beautiful landscapes.

North Dakota: Plains Art Museum (Fargo)

Courtesy of Plains Art Museum north dakota_ plains art museum

Plains Arts Museum was initially called Red River Art Center and was housed in Moorhead, Minnesota. It moved to North Dakota and reopened at a warehouse in Fargo in 1997.

Since then, it has built an eclectic permanent collection of 4,000 works that span many mediums. The museum also offers classes, lectures, social events, and more.

Ohio: Cincinnati Art Museum (Cincinnati)

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Founded in 1881, the Cincinnati Art Museum — located in Eden Park — is one of the oldest art institutes in the country.

Famed for its massive collection, the museum is home to more than 73,000 works that span 6,000 years.

Art also lives outside the museum walls, where guests can head up the “Art Climb” and enjoy a stunning view of the city.

Oklahoma: Philbrook Museum of Art (Tulsa)

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Philbrook is more than just an art house. Guests can visit a historic villa built in 1927, a top-of-the-line museum, and 25 acres of luscious gardens.

The museum opened its doors in 1939 and has since grown its collection to include 16,000 works focusing on American, Native American, and European Art.

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Oregon: Portland Art Museum (Portland)

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Located in Portland’s cultural district, the Portland Art Museum is the oldest in the Pacific Northwest (it was founded in 1892).

The museum is devoted to preserving art for future generations and devotes 90% of its gallery space to a wide-ranging permanent collection that includes more than 50,000 works.

Pennsylvania: Philadelphia Museum of Art (Philadelphia)

Courtesy of Philadelphia Museum of Art pennsylvania  philadelphia museum of art

At the end of Benjamin Franklin Parkway, visitors can check out the vast array of artwork and exhibits at Philadelphia’s Museum of Art.

The museum’s massive collection includes more than 240,000 works that span several millennia, plus a collection of suits of armor, an outdoor sculpture garden, and more.

Rhode Island: RISD Museum (Providence)

Courtesy of RISD Museum rhode island  risd museum

The RISD Museum, established in 1877, is one of the nation’s largest university art museums.

Contributing to a vibrant artistic community, the museum’s collection includes more than 100,000 works from various cultures dating back to ancient times.

South Carolina: Columbia Museum of Art (Columbia)

Courtesy of Columbia Museum of Art south carolina columbia museum of art

Established in 1950, the Columbia Museum of Art’s collection has grown to include nearly 7,000 works. The museum is in the heart of downtown Columbia and offers all sorts of programs for artistically inclined visitors.

Notable names in the collection include Sandro Botticelli, Claude Monet, and Louis Comfort Tiffany.

South Dakota: South Dakota Art Museum (Brookings)

Courtesy of South Dakota Art Museum south dakota_ south dakota art museum

Located in South Dakota State University, this museum includes seven galleries and a wide range of works.

Every year, the museum’s galleries feature more than a dozen new exhibits, and the collection includes an extensive array of paintings, traditional and modern Native American art, fine prints from the 1960s and 70s, and more.

Tennessee: Frist Art Museum (Nashville)

Courtesy of Frist Art Museum tennessee_ frist art museum

The Frist Art Museum opened its doors in 2001 and is a non-collection museum. Instead of a permanent collection, it hosts 12 to 15 exhibits from around the world at any given time.

It also offers an interactive art space, ArtQuest, where guests of all ages can try drawing, animation, printmaking, and more.

Texas: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (Houston)

Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts texas_ museum of fine arts, houston

The Museum of Fine Arts in Houston is home to a vast range of works (nearly 70,000) curated from all over the world and spanning centuries.

Just about every medium you can think of — from decorative arts and design to antiques to film and photography — can be found throughout its three gallery buildings.

Utah: Utah Museum of Fine Arts (Salt Lake City)

Courtesy of Utah Museum of Fine Arts utah_ utah museum of fine arts

Located at the University of Utah, the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection includes more than 20,000 works.

It’s the only institution in the area that collects and exhibits an extensive collection of artworks spanning centuries and continents — from ancient Mediterranean works to new galleries featuring Japanese, Chinese, and African art.

Vermont: Shelburne Museum (Shelburne)

Courtesy of Shelburne Museum vermont_ shelburne museum

Whimsical is the best way to describe Shelburne Museum, which boasts collections of everything from fine and decorative arts to circus collections, textiles, and toys.

The grounds also include a 45-acre garden guests can explore, which features 39 unique buildings and structures (like a circus building, covered bridge, and round barn).

Virginia: Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (Richmond)

Courtesy of Virginia Museum of Fine Arts virginia_ virginia museum of fine arts

In 1936, in the middle of the Depression, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts opened its doors for the first time. Since that leap of faith, it has grown to amass an incredible collection.

The museum boasts extensive collections of Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture, Indian and Himalayan art, and a wide-ranging collection of contemporary art.

Washington: Seattle Art Museum (Seattle)

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The permanent collection at Seattle Art Museum includes nearly 25,000 works. Visitors can enjoy global art collections, temporary installations, and traveling exhibits that span many mediums.

Located in the heart of downtown, there is also a new MARKET Fishmonger & Eatery location in the museum, so guests can enjoy some seafood and a cocktail after exploring.

West Virginia: Huntington Museum of Art (Huntington)

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Art and nature lovers can come together at Huntington Museum of Art, which includes a collection of more than 16,000 artworks and sits on 52 acres of land.

Across the grounds, guests can enjoy several galleries, a tropical and subtropical plant conservatory, a coral reef aquarium, two outdoor sculpture courts, and miles of hiking trails.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Art Museum (Milwaukee)

Courtesy of Milwaukee Art Museum milwaukee art museum

As Milwaukee’s first art gallery, this museum has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 1888.

The Milwaukee Art Museum now boasts a collection of 30,000 works, with strengths in minimalism and neo-expressionism, European Baroque, folk and self-taught art, and 20th-century Haitian works.

Wyoming: National Museum of Wildlife Art (Jackson)

Courtesy of National Museum of Wildlife Art wyoming_ national museum of wildlife art

Another must-see for nature lovers, the National Museum of Wildlife is home to more than 5,000 works that depict wild animals — some created by famed artists like Georgia O’Keeffe and Andy Warhol.

The collection also features works dating back to ancient times, as far as 2500 B.C.

Bottom line

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If you’re traveling within the U.S. this summer, each museum listed here has something unique for vacationers and locals.

And because admission to most of these museums is affordable (if not free), pursuing the best local art collections is a great way to spend an afternoon and keep more money in your wallet.

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Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.