• September 11, 2023
  • Lauren Critzer
  • 0

Discover Amazing History At The Best Museums in Austin

Austin, the capital of Texas, is a city that thrives on its vibrant culture, bustling arts scene, robust history, and innovative scientific research. These effortlessly blend together to create a city full of exciting discoveries just waiting to be explored – many of which you’ll find in our stellar museums around town.

Our carefully curated ‘Guide to the Best Museums in Austin’ aims to provide you an intimate look at these cultural troves from a local’s perspective. Each museum is a unique adventure, offering hours of exploration through art, history, nature, and more. Prepare to dive into a kaleidoscope of experiences, exhibits, and whimsical curiosities!

Dive Into the Past at the Bullock Texas State History Museum

Named after the esteemed 38th Lieutenant Governor Bob Bullock of Texas, the Bullock Texas State History Museum is a testament to the magnificent history of the Lone Star state. Offering a captivating view into the past, this museum uniquely combines education and entertainment.

  • The museum unveils the timeline of Texas through exquisite exhibits spanning three floors. The lower floor delves deep into the state’s early history and natural environment, moving onto European explorers, colonization, and revolution on the second floor. The third floor showcases the challenges faced in achieving statehood, coupled with elements of the cowboy and oil eras.

  • The museum houses a number of historic artifacts and documents that shed light on Texas’s rich past. Notable highlights include the Goddess of Liberty, who once crowned the State Capitol, and one of the seven original bronze statues of Stevie Ray Vaughan.

  • The interactive exhibits make history tangible. Engage your senses with diverse experiences, from sound effects in the shipwreck area to sniffing spice drawers in La Belle ship’s hold replica.

  • The museum often hosts temporary exhibitions and special events, promising something new for every visit. It also hosts an IMAX theater and Texas Spirit Theater, offering a blend of informative and entertaining shows.

  • Visit the Museum Store stocked with unique Texas-centric items ranging from handmade jewelry, home décor, to books.

At the Bullock Museum, history is not only learned, but it’s also experienced.

Experience Art at The Contemporary Austin

The Contemporary Austin, formerly Austin Museum of Art, is your next stop in the guide to the best museums in Austin. This is where creativity is nurtured, echoing Austin’s vibrant art scene.

  • The Museum is unique in its format, spanning two locations: The Jones Center downtown and the picturesque Laguna Gloria by Lake Austin.

  • At the Jones Center, embrace contemporary artwork from around the world. Explore the rotating exhibits that showcase varying media and thematic content, keeping the museum’s pulse fresh and vibrant.

  • The Mood Rooftop takes the art experience up a notch, literally. Enjoy your introspection with the downtown city skyline as a backdrop.

  • Laguna Gloria, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, offers an outdoor respite with a sculpture park spread over 14 acres. The amalgamation of natural beauty and artistic brilliance stimulate your senses as you stroll through this tranquil retreat.

  • An art school on site offers classes for adults and children alike. Unleash your inner artist in one of the workshops or enjoy the variety of educational programs designed to broaden your artistic horizons.

Unlock Scientific Wonders at the Texas Memorial Museum

Science seekers and history hunters, your next stop is the Texas Memorial Museum. Located on the University of Texas campus, this museum is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

  • The museum is divided into thematic sections focusing on paleontology, geology, biology, and herpetology. This allows visitors to dive deep into specific fields of interest.

  • The Hall of Geology and Paleontology is a highlight, featuring fossils portraying the fascinating tale of life through time. Run your hands over a Diplodocus spine or marvel at the Waco Mammoth.

  • The exploration doesn’t end indoors. The museum grounds are home to an incredible variety of Texas plants and animals, including numerous wildlife viewing opportunities and a large butterfly garden.

  • Check their calendar for Museum Express events – a one-stop exploration tour of a featured subject, from mammoths to Texas mammals.

The Wide World of Art at The Blanton Museum of Art

Your art journey continues with your next stop, The Blanton Museum of Art, located just a short walk from the Texas Memorial Museum on the University of Texas campus.

  • Boasting an impressive permanent collection, including European paintings, American and Contemporary art, and Latin American pieces, this museum showcases artwork from every corner of the globe.

  • The museum’s pièce de résistance is the Ellsworth Kelly’s ‘Austin’ — a 2,715 square-foot stone building with luminous colored glass windows, a totemic wood sculpture, and fourteen black-and-white marble panels. It’s not only a piece of art but also an architectural marvel and a tranquil space for contemplation.

  • Special exhibits continuously rotate through the museum, extending the range of artwork on display. You might find anything from Old Master prints to contemporary video installations.

  • The museum also functions as a learning facility, with music performances, artist talks, lectures, symposia, and innovative public programs fostering an appreciation for art.

Let Your Imagination Run Wild at the Thinkery

Finally, but certainly not least, the Thinkery, is Austin’s premier children’s museum emphasizing learning through STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. It’s a mind-expanding adventure for kids and adults!

  • With interactive features like the Currents exhibit, children explore the surprising properties of water and sound, while the Light Lab invites you to manipulate color, light, and shadows in intriguing ways.

  • The Fresh! exhibit is a crowd favorite where kids can learn about the roots of our food while getting their hands dirty planting and harvesting crops in a garden space or running a ‘farm-to-table’ food truck.

  • The Innovator’s Workshop offers challenges that revolve around common household objects, igniting out-of-the-box thinking, problem-solving skills, and the creativity of young inventors.


Thus concludes our ‘Guide to the Best Museums in Austin’. We trust our local insights have piqued your curiosity and sparked a sense of exploration. These museums aren’t merely time capsules of the past, but dynamic entities that constantly evolve and reflect Austin’s vibrant character.

So why not take time to travel back to the past at the Bullock Museum or get up close with nature at the Texas Memorial Museum? Perhaps the modern aesthetic and thought-provoking installations at The Contemporary Austin and The Blanton Museum of Art are more your scene, or you’d like to engage in interactive STEAM-based fun at Thinkery.

Regardless of your inclinations, Austin’s broad selection of museums promise an enlightening adventure. And remember to take your time. The wandering exploration is part of the charm of visiting any museum. We hope you find as much joy discovering these museums as we have in crafting this guide for you. Happy exploring in the heart of Texas’ cultural scene!

Lauren Critzer

I was born in Charlottesville, Virginia and after college, I moved to San Francisco to explore new opportunities and broaden my horizons. I fell in love with the city's vibrant culture and unique atmosphere, but eventually, I moved again, this time to Austin, Texas.

As much as I loved living in different parts of the country, having a baby boy brought me back to my hometown in Charlottesville, where I now live with my husband, our little one, and two furry friends. I enjoy going to wineries, taking my pups everywhere, and spending quality time with my family.

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