Baltimore Museums

Celebrate history, maker culture and the city's quirky charm at these local institutions.

With so many museums celebrating art, American history, family heritage and even all things zany, you could spend weeks in Baltimore visiting one each day and still have more to explore. Check out these popular Baltimore museums to get trip ideas for a cultural weekend away or an educational family vacation.

Baltimore Art Museums

If you’re an art lover, be sure to stop at the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland's largest art museum, sporting more than 95,000 works of art. Modern and contemporary art fans will be especially interested in the BMA’s Matisse collection­—the largest public collection in the world­—and special exhibitions showcasing works by emerging and established artists from Baltimore and beyond. Be sure to see the great collections of African, American, and European art and a gorgeous 2.7-acre sculpture garden with works by Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson, Auguste Rodin, and other modern masters. What's more, general admission to the BMA is free for all, every day!

More classic works of art can be discovered—also free of charge—at the Walters Art Museum, which proudly boasts 55 centuries of art from around the world. The museum celebrates its 80th anniversary this year with the special exhibition "From Rye to Raphael: The Walters Story." It traces the journey of William T. Walters and his son, Henry, two of America's greatest art collectors. A series of lectures and special events are also part of the anniversary celebration. Plan a visit on a Sunday to take part in free walking tours of specific sections of the collection, hosted by a museum-trained docent. At the Walters, you can not only see great works of art, you can also make them yourself! Drop by the Drop-In Art activities events on Saturdays and Sundays to participate.

On the other side of the high art coin is Baltimore’s American Visionary Art Museum, which displays original works of art created by self-taught artists and Baltimore makers. With a permanent rotating collection of more than 4,000 pieces, special exhibitions, a unique place to grab a bite in Mr. Rain’s Fun House and a stop at the amazing gift shop, Sideshow, a visit to the AVAM makes for truly a grand day out.

Family-Friendly Museums in Baltimore

You'll find one of the most popular Children’s Museums in the US in Baltimorethe Port Discovery Children's Museum. And how could it not be, with permanent exhibits like KidWorks, the three-story tree house you can climb up and slide through; Tiny’s Diner, a 50’s style diner in which the kids are the cooks and service staff; and Wonders of Water, featuring interactive ways for children to explore with water (but make sure the kids don a museum slicker, they’ll definitely get wet in WOW!). Special traveling exhibitions throughout the year are the icing on the cake.

More fun and exploration happens at the Maryland Science Center in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Take the kids here to enjoy the museum’s “Science Encounters,” including live demonstrations on a variety of scientific topics; a chance to view planets and astronomical events on the rooftop observatory; and larger-than-life 4D shows at the Davis Planetarium.

The Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum

Baseball fans won’t be disappointed with Baltimore’s major sports history museum, the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum. At the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Museum, you’ll not only be able to witness first-hand where the baseball legend was born and learn about his life, but you’ll also find special exhibits on the history of the home run in baseball; one-of-a-kind artifacts—like Babe’s catcher’s mitt and jersey and a video presentation about the Star-Spangled Banner in Sports (in which Babe plays a role).

Baltimore's African American Museums

Baltimore is proud of its rich African American heritage, memorialized in its many African American museums, monuments and attractions. Our African American museums provide unique insight into the history of the city, the state and the entire nation. Our museums include the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture and the one of a kind National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, which features life-sized replicas of more than 100 African American visionaries as well as exhibits. America's first wax museum explores Black history and culture from African heritage and slavery, through freedom and civil rights movements, to today's inspiring leaders and role models.

B&O Railroad Museum & Baltimore History

Maintaining one of the oldest and most comprehensive railroad collections, 19th and early 20th century History buffs and train fanatics should plan a day out at the B&O Railroad Museum. View original locomotives and rolling stock, from steam trains to cabooses; take a 20-minute train ride along the first commercial mile of train track laid in America; or bring the kids to Choo Choo Blueville for a kid-sized train ride.

You can also take a trip back in time with a visit to the Star-Spangled Banner Flag House, where you can experience what life was like in the 19th century and "meet" Mary Pickersgill, the woman who made the flag that was raised over Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812 and inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the poem that became "The Star-Spangled Banner." You’ll be able to tour the Pickersgill house and experience aspects of the flag-making business in which Mary and her mother were involved.

Quirky Baltimore Museums

Yearning for something a little out of the ordinary? In Baltimore, you don't even have to go off the beaten path to revel in a little quirkiness. You see, Baltimore doesn’t just offer sports and art museums. You can also take a trip through the history of dentistry (really!) at the National Museum of Dentistry. Here you can view George Washington’s false teeth, watch classic toothpaste commercials and marvel at toothbrush designs through the ages. Or, visit the Fire Museum of Maryland and be amazed by antique fire-fighting equipment and learn about the history of fire fighting in America.

At the Geppi’s Entertainment Museum, you can wander through thousands of popular culture character artifacts to understand how cartoon, comic and television characters have shaped American culture. Relive your childhood as you see hundreds of your favorite characters on display — from Superman to Barbie and beyond.

Planning a Visit to Baltimore's Museums?

With so many choices, which Baltimore museum do you want to visit? You can pick from these or find many more in our extensive list of Baltimore museums.