20 Museums in Austin

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As the capital of Texas, Austin has served as a cultural, technological, and historical hub for decades. Known for its unofficial slogan, “Keep Austin Weird”, it features an eclectic range of options for music, nightlife, food, and green spaces, but also museums both world-renowned and oddly quirky. These are our picks of the best museums in Austin, including art, history, science and weird culture. 

Museums in Austin

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20 Best Austin Museums

1- Blanton Museum of Art

university of texas austin museums
One of Austin’s museums is at the University of Texas – the Blanton Museum of Art.

Located on the University of Texas at Austin’s campus, the Blanton Museum of Art is one of the largest university museums in the country with over 189,000 square feet (17,559 square meters) for permanent exhibits, a temporary collection, a print study room, an auditorium, and more.

It houses the largest and most comprehensive art collection in Central Texas, with over 21,000 pieces in its permanent collection, plus typically five or six rotating exhibits and special events.

Their collection includes over 2000 pieces of Latin American Art, including Cildo Meireles’ “Mission/Missions (How to build a Cathedral)” installation made from 2,000 bones, 600,000 coins, and 800 communion wafers and Teresita Fernández’s permanent wall installation, Stacked Waters.

Ellsworth Kelly’s last work of art, entitled “Austin”, a structure lit by hand-blown coloured glass panels, is also a popular distinctive piece.

Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, $5 for youth over 12 and college ID holders, and free for UT ID holders and teachers with ID. Free admission for everyone on Thursdays.

The Museum is open 10 am-5 pm Wednesday-Saturday, and 1 pm-5 pm on Sunday.

The Blanton Museum of Art is at 200 E Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Austin, 78712.

2- The Contemporary Austin

museums in austin
Looking for the best museums in Austin? Here’s our pick of the top 20.

The Contemporary Austin is one of the most famous museums in Austin, consisting of two separate locations: the Jones Center and Laguna Gloria Sculpture Park.

The Jones Center is a distinctive modern work of architecture in the heart of downtown.

Consisting of 8,000 square feet (743 square meters) of space across two levels, the Jones Center often features two shows on each level, featuring worldwide contemporary artists.

Some popular instalments include the Daniel Johnston memorial mural on the south-facing wall and Jim Hodges’ “With Library and Justice for All” installation wraps around the building, appearing to float in mid-air.

Check out the Laguna Gloria Sculpture Park on the banks of Lake Austin to see modern sculptures in a garden with plants, animals, and wooded pathways.

Their new onsite cafe, Spread & Co, offers picnic offerings with “grazing boxes” and even a bottle of wine. You can also purchase artist-designed merchandise.

On the grounds, you can also view the Driscoll Villa, an Italian-style mansion used for private events, and check out the Art School at the Contemporary with programming for all ages.

Timed tickets purchased in advance are recommended to ensure entry.

Admission (entry to both locations included) is $10 for adults, $5 for seniors and students; children under 10, military members, and essential workers are free. Admission is free on Thursdays.

Laguna Gloria is open Wednesday 9 am-3 pm, Thursday 9 am-9 pm, and Friday through Sunday 9 am-3 pm.

The Jones Center is open Wednesday from noon to 9 pm and Thursday through Sunday from noon to 6 pm.

The Jones Center is at 700 Congress Avenue, Austin, 78701 and Laguna Gloria is at 3809 West 35th Street, Austin, 78703.

3- Mexic-Arte Museum

day of the dead museum austin
One of the most interesting museums in Austin is the Day of the Dead Museum.

In 1984, a group of artists planned programming for Dia de Los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, and obtained nonprofit status to open the museum.

It opened in its current location downtown at Congress and 4th Streets in 1988, offering rotating exhibits.

The Mexic-Arte Museum is a wonderful small museum featuring traditional and contemporary Latino art and culture.

Day of the Dead continues to be a very large part of their programming, with detailed ofrendas lining the galleries and a parade and festival dubbed Viva La Vida every October.

Admission is $7 for adults; $4 for seniors, active military, veterans, and students; and $1 for children ages 12 and under.

The Museum is open Monday through Thursday, 10 am–6 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 am–5 pm, and Sunday, 12 pm–5 pm.

The Mexic-Arte Museum is at 419 Congress Avenue, Austin, 78701

4- Omlauf Sculpture Garden And Museum

Be sure to check out this outdoor sculpture garden down the street, which focuses on the works of American sculptor (and former UT art professor) Charles Omlauf.

Inside what used to be Omlauf’s home are over 2,000 of his drawings and throughout the park are nearly 300 of his stone, marble and bronze sculptures feature in rotating temporary solo and group shows.

It offers a wonderful, packed programming line-up with storytimes, yoga sessions, sound baths, artist talks and the UMLAUF After Dark series every other month.

Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (60+), $3 for students, $1 for youth ages 13-17, and active military and veterans are free.

The Garden and Museum are open Tuesday-Friday 10 am-4 pm, Saturday-Sunday 11 am-4 pm

The Omlauf Sculpture Garden is at 605 Azie Morton Road, Austin, 78704.

5- Elisabet Ney Museum

Dedicated to the work and life of sculptor Elisabet Ney who moved to Austin in 1882 from Germany, the museum features her artwork and biographical artifacts.

The building is part of the Hyde Park National Register Historic Neighborhood and has other historic designations.

Tours and programs are available, with their regular operating hour being Wednesday-Sunday, noon to 5 pm, and admission is free.

The Elisabet Ney Museum is at 304 East 44th Street, Austin, 78751.

6- Bullock Texas State History Museum

Bullock Texas State History Museum Austin
If you only have time for one museum in Austin, make it the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Sharing the story of Texas from its earliest tribal inhabitants to the present day with over 700 artifacts, this popular history museum is named after the state’s 38th Lieutenant Governor, Bob Bullock.

Popular exhibits include a French ship excavated from the Gulf of Mexico in the 1600s, clay pots made by one of the first Black-owned businesses after emancipation, and even a World War II aeroplane.

Constantly rotating temporary exhibits are featured in addition to the permanent collection, plus a cafe, store, and IMAX theatre, which shows a combination of blockbusters and nature-focused educational films.

Tickets purchased in advance online are recommended at $13 for adults; $11 for students, military, or seniors (age 65+); $9 for children ages 4-17. IMAX and Texas Spirit Theater tickets are extra.

The Museums is open Tuesday–Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum is at 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin, 78701.

7- LBJ Presidential Library and Museum

Museums in Austin LBJ library
Another of the museums in Austin to tick off your to-see list is the LBJ.

Located on the UT campus, this presidential library and museum focus on the Texas-born 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson, with over 45 million pages, more than 650,000 photos, 5,000 hours of recordings, and over 2,000 oral history interviews.

Explore replicas of the Oval Office and Lady Bird Johnson’s office.

Check out his presidential limousine and the Great Hall featuring four floors of glass-enclosed archives in addition to rotating temporary exhibits that honour the life and legacy of the Johnsons.

The library and museum are open daily, 9 am – 5 pm, with the last visitor admitted at 4 pm.

Admission is $13 for adults (ages 19-61), $9 for seniors, $4 for children 13+ and non-UT Austin College/ University students, and free for UT Austin ID holders and active duty military members (plus five family members) or if Lyndon is your first, middle, or last name.

LBJ Presidential Library and Museum is at 2313 Red River Street, Austin, 78705.

8- Texas Military Forces Museum

This 45,000-square-foot (4180-square-meter) museum in Camp Mabry focuses on the state’s militia history starting in 1823 with Stephen F. Austin’s colony to the present day.

Uniforms, weapons, equipment, film, music, photos, battle dioramas, and full-scale reproductions tell the story of the Texas Army, Navy, Air National Guard, and Texas State Guard in times of both peace and war.

Living history programs, battle reenactments, and other special programs are also offered.

Opening times are from Tuesday to Sunday (10 am to 4 pm). A photo ID is required for entry, and admission is free (donations welcome).

The Texas Military Forces Museum is on Camp Mabry at 2200 West 35th Street in Building 6, with the official GPS address for the museum at 3038 West 35th St, Austin, 78703.

9- Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms Museum

museums austin
See how blacksmithing was done in the past at the Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms Museum in Austin.

This living history museum in Northeast Austin preserves the cultures and histories of Central Texas during the 19th century.

With over 90 wooded acres (36 ha), the museum presents historically reproduced areas to explore, including an 1841 Tonkawa Native American encampment, the Walnut Creek Greenbelt from 1853 and an 1868 German Emigrant Farm.

There’s also an 1873 Texian Farm, an 1887 Cotton Planter’s Farm and an 1899 rural village called Sprinkle Corner.

Reenactors help bring each location to life and offer classes for all ages in historic activities such as weaving and candlemaking to archery and blacksmithing.

The museum is open Thursday through Sunday for general public admission 10 am-5 pm with last admission at 4 pm. If you have a group of 15 or more, you can reserve guided history tours in advance Tuesdays-Fridays.

Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for youth (ages 3-17), and $6 for seniors (65 and over), with special discounts for groups of $20 or more and special pricing for special-event and nighttime shows.

10- Thinkery

Austin’s premier children’s museum offers a full day of hands-on fun.

Blend science and art in the Innovators’ Workshop with stop animation, painting on glass, shadow fun, and building LED structures in the Light Lab.

Learn about forces in the Notion of Motion exhibit and become part of the museum with the “Smile Here” photo booth.

The Move Studio helps young children practice coordination and climb through an obstacle course, while the Story Nook provides a calm reprieve for solo reading and pop-up story times.

General admission is $18 for visitors over two years, Tuesday – Thursday, 9 am-3 pm, Friday and Saturday, 10 am-5 pm, and Sunday, 10 am-3 pm. They offer special reserved hours for families with toddlers ages 0-3 years on Monday and Saturday mornings 8-10 am, with time to explore and special programs. Tuesday, 3-7 pm, and Sunday, 3-5 pm are Community Nights with admission by donation.

The Thinkery is at 1830 Simond Avenue, Austin, 78723

11- Austin Nature & Science Center

This 80-acre (32 ha) nature centre, on the western edge of Zilker Park, has been open since 1960 with hands-on nature exhibits and educational programming for all ages.

See local wildlife found within 100 miles (161 km) of Austin, dig for fossils in the Dino Pit, learn about small things in Nano and observe wild birds in the bird blind.

You can also check out plants and animals in the pollinator gardens, explore permanent and temporary art inspired by nature, walk the Forest trail (a self-guided exhibit of 45 native trees) and explore and trade fur, rocks, bones, plants and insects at the Naturalist Workshop and Trade Counter.

The Nature and Science Center is free to the public and open daily, 9 am-5 pm, except on Sundays when it is open from noon to 5 pm.

The Austin Nature and Science Center is at 2389 Stratford Drive, Austin, 78746.

12- Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Founded by the former first lady and environmentalist Lady Bird Johnson and actress Helen Hayes, this nature centre features more than 900 species of native Texas plants.

Explore cultivated gardens, an arboretum, managed natural areas, and wildlands and trails across its 284 acres (115 ha), as well as its library, indoor and outdoor classrooms, and the Wildflower cafe.

Advance registration is required. Admission is $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, $13 for military members with ID, $8 for children ages 5-17, and free for UT ID holders.

The Wildflower Center is open daily, 9 am-5 pm.

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is at 4801 La Crosse Avenue, Austin, 78739.

13- Austin Aquarium

The Austin Aquarium provides access to thousands of species, including tropical fish, reptiles, and amphibians, a parakeet aviary and a rainforest vivarium with ring-tailed lemurs and capybaras.

Hand-feed sharks, rays, birds, and fish, and you can purchase extra tokens to feed an octopus or meet other animals in person.

The aquarium is open Sunday-Thursday 10 am-7 pm, and Friday-Saturday 10 am-8 pm.

Admission is $22.95 for adults (ages 12 and older); $20.95 for seniors, military members, and college students; and $17.95 for children under 12.

The Austin Aquarium is located at 13530 North Highway 183 #101, Austin, 78750.

14- Carver Museum, Cultural And Geneology Center

Housed inside the George Washington Carver Library, the Museum, Cultural, and Geneology Center feature four permanent and two rotating galleries that celebrate the global contributions of Black artists, makers, and innovators.

Including the galleries, conference room, classroom, darkroom, dance studio, 134-seat theatre and archival space, the museum is a 36,000-square-foot (3,345-square-meter) facility.

The museum focuses on 10 families who have contributed to Central Texas and features L.C. Andrson Hight, the school designated for African Americans during segregation.

Admission to the museum and programming is free.

The Museum and Centers are open Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from 10 am to 6 pm; Thursday from 10 am to 9 pm, and Saturday from 10 am to 4 pm.

The Carver Museum, Cultural and Geneology Center is located at 1165 Angelina Street, Austin, 78702.

15- Texas Music Museum

music museum austin
Visiting the music museum in Austin is a fascinating way to discover music culture.

On historic East 11th Street, the Texas Music Museum offers a unique historical collection, telling the story of the musicians who were instrumental in turning Austin into the Live Music Capital of the World, featuring over 60 Texas musicians in 14 musical genres in the Texas Music Pioneers.

Explore unique artist memorabilia, antique recording cylinders, phonographs, Texas’ earliest radios and sheet music, and the multi-genre contributions of East Austin’s African American music history with rare photographs, historical posters, exclusive recordings, and live music videos.

Admission is free and open Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday from noon to 5 pm.

The Texas Music Museum is located at 1009 East 11th Street, Austin, 78702.

16- The Harry Ransom Center

Perfect for bookworms with documents and artifacts that focus on the creative process of leading writers, artists, actors and other creatives, the Harry Ransom Center is located just a short walk from the Blanton Museum of Art.

It has one of the largest archives of original manuscripts and other historical documents in the upstairs Reading and Viewing Room.

Exhibits include The First Photograph, the oldest surviving photograph taken in 1826 in France as well as a first edition of the Gutenberg King James Bible.

Explore free rotating exhibits, take a tour, attend a program and conduct research in the Reading and Viewing Room.

Free admission but register at the reception desk by showing a current photo ID.

Its regular operating hours are Tuesday-Friday 10 am to 5 pm, and Saturday-Sunday noon to 5 pm.

The Harry Ransom Center is on the UT Austin campus at 300 West 21st Street, Austin, 78712.

17- Neill-Cochran House Museum

One of Austin’s oldest residential properties, built in 1854, the Neill-Cochran House Museum is home to the only intact and publicly accessible slave dwelling in Austin.

The museum holds its mission of sharing the ugly history of slave ownership in Austin through the exhibit Reckoning With the Past: The Untold Story of Race in Austin.

Participate in events like stories from the lawn, guided tours, and a book club.

It is open Wednesday-Sunday 11 am to 4 pm, and admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and students with ID, and children under 12 are free.

The Neill-Cochran House Museum is located at 2310 San Gabriel Street, Austin, 78705.

18- Women & Their Work

This airy, industrial-styled gallery set in a former furniture store showcases provocative works by women artists featuring paintings, textiles, videos, drawings and found-object sculptures with feminist ideas throughout.

Women & Their Work hosts dance performances, literary readings, and art workshops.

The museum is open Tuesday-Friday, 10 am to 6 pm, and Saturday, noon to 6 pm and admission is free, but donations are appreciated.

Women & Their Work is located at 1311 East Cesar Chavez Street, Austin, 78702

19- Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum

This museum features historical race cars, movie production vehicles, and music-related memorabilia.

It is open to the public on the 1st and third Saturday of each month from 10 am to 3 pm and admission is free.

The Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum is located at 3913 Todd Lane #205, Austin, 78744.

20- Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata

austin museums
Austin’s museums come in many shapes and types.

One of the few remaining family-run in-home museums in America, the Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata’s mission is to preserve endangered ways of collection, provide a space where people can share objects and their stories, and think about different ways of collecting.

It features items people collect in their homes, including a snow globe collection and even an entire section dedicated to sleep.

Small group tours occur on Saturday; email them to arrange.

The Museum of Natural & Artificial Ephemerata is located at 1808 Singleton Avenue, Austin, 78702.

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Sarah Hoffschwelle is an author and freelance writer with a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in Museum Studies focusing on science communication and education. Originally from Texas, she moved to South Korea as a child for a couple of years, travelling to China, Thailand, Japan, and Australia during her time there. She has travelled to Germany, England, and Ireland and studied abroad for a summer in Italy. She currently lives in New Hampshire and continues to travel domestically as much as possible and is planning several international trips for the next few years