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12 Top-Rated Museums in Columbus Ohio

Columbus

Museums in Columbus Ohio; Columbus, Ohio, boasts an impressive array of museums that showcase its rich history, vibrant arts scene, and scientific wonders. As the home of The Ohio State University and several revered institutions, this city stands as the unrivaled arts and science hub of the Buckeye State.

From priceless art masterpieces to fascinating archaeological finds and offbeat cartoon museums, Columbus offers a diverse range of museum experiences. The Columbus Museum of Art and COSI are well-known favorites, but the city has much more to offer for all interests, including history, science, and beyond.

Embark on a journey of exploration as we uncover the best museums in Columbus, where you can immerse yourself in captivating exhibits that cater to every passion and curiosity. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, these cultural treasures are sure to leave you inspired and enriched.

Columbus Museum of Art: A Haven for Art Enthusiasts

Museums in Columbus Ohio: The Columbus Museum of Art is a captivating destination that celebrates the beauty of art from various genres and regions. With its diverse exhibitions and galleries, visitors can immerse themselves in a world of paintings, photography, glass, and sculptures.

Beyond the traditional art displays, the museum offers an array of engaging programs and community events that utilize the galleries as a creative backdrop, making each visit a unique and enriching experience.

Columbus Museum of Art – Museums in Ohio Columbus - Museums in Columbus Ohio
Source: Columbus Museum of Art – Museums in Ohio Columbus

Be sure to explore the JP Morgan Chase Center for Creativity, where a free creativity lounge awaits, equipped with hands-on products to ignite your artistic spark. The museum’s dedication to nurturing creativity extends to the Schokko Art Café, where culinary delights are crafted with an artistic touch.

Ideal for a full day of artistic indulgence, you can also plan a visit to the nearby Wexner Center for the Arts on the Ohio State University campus.

Address: 480 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio

Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum: A Hidden Gem for Car Enthusiasts

Museums in Columbus Ohio: Tucked away in Columbus is a hidden gem that every car enthusiast should explore – the Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum. While lesser-known, this museum offers a captivating and unique experience that leaves visitors in awe.

As you step into the museum’s galleries, you’ll be treated to an extraordinary collection, including an array of rare license plates, pre-war military jeeps, vintage neon signs, and antique gas pumps. Delve into the rich automotive history of Ohio as you discover fascinating pieces of auto-industry trivia and anecdotes about the state’s significant role in shaping the automobile industry.

Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum - Museums in Ohio Columbus
Source: Wagner-Hagans Auto MuseumMuseums in Ohio Columbus

The museum’s curator and owner, Steve Wagner, adds a personal touch to the exhibits, sharing intriguing stories that connect the past to the present. With exhibits that change regularly, each visit to the Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum feels like a new adventure.

The car collection itself is a true spectacle, boasting numerous original and well-preserved automobiles. Each car is meticulously presented, providing in-depth information about its design and significance to the museum.

A visit to this small yet remarkable museum requires scheduling an appointment, allowing for an intimate and personalized experience. As you explore the galleries and admire the vintage cars, you’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the rich automotive heritage of Ohio.

Address: 476 E. Kossuth Street, Columbus, Ohio

Center of Science and Industry (COSI): Where Science Comes to Life

Museums in Columbus Ohio: The Center of Science and Industry (COSI) is a beloved institution in Columbus, inspiring both children and adults to marvel at the wonders of science. With its hands-on exhibits and interactive displays, COSI educates visitors about outer space, energy, cultural progress, and even boasts an expansive dinosaur gallery in partnership with the American Museum of Natural History.

Throughout the year, COSI offers revolving temporary exhibits, live shows, and lab experiments, ensuring there’s always something new and exciting to explore. A must-see experience is the planetarium, where the 60-foot dome immerses you in a dark desert as you learn about the mysteries of the galaxy.

 Center of Science and Industry –  Museums in Ohio Columbus
Source: Center of Science and Industry – Museums in Ohio Columbus

Designed with families in mind, the top floor is dedicated to children of all ages, offering interactive activities to ignite their interest in science and technology. Older kids will also find plenty to engage with through hands-on activities catered to all levels of learning.

Spanning over 300,000 square feet, COSI provides a fascinating and fun educational experience. From ocean exploration to archaeology and science, visitors can delve into various exhibitions and participate in hands-on activities that captivate the imagination.

Don’t miss the unique experiences at the onsite theater, where science truly comes to life.

Address: 333 W Broad St, Columbus, OH 43215

Kelton House Museum and Garden: A Glimpse into Victorian-Era Columbus

Museums in Columbus Ohio: Step back in time at the Kelton House Museum and Garden, housed in a historic building dating back to the mid-1800s. As you enter this charming museum, you’ll be transported to an era of Victorian elegance, immersing yourself in the rich history and culture of Columbus during the 19th century.

The museum’s exhibitions offer a fascinating insight into the daily life and traditions of that bygone era. Delve into the stories of the Kelton family, the original inhabitants of the house, and gain a deeper understanding of the city’s history through their experiences.

Kelton House Museum and Garden – Museums in Ohio Columbus
Source: Kelton House Museum and Garden Museums in Ohio Columbus

Amidst the Victorian architecture, you’ll find captivating exhibits and displays that showcase the lifestyle, customs, and artistry of the time. Take a leisurely stroll through the well-manicured gardens, where diverse plant species and beautiful landscaping evoke a sense of tranquility and charm.

Address: 586 E Town St, Columbus, OH 43215

Ohio History Center: Where Ohio’s Rich Heritage Comes Alive

Museums in Columbus Ohio: For an immersive journey into Ohio’s captivating past, look no further than the Ohio History Center. Located in the same complex as the Ohio Village, this center offers a memorable and educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Inside the Ohio History Center, interactive exhibits breathe life into Ohio’s history, showcasing everything from the state’s sporting legacy to anthropological discoveries in its diverse landscape. Explore the ingenuity of Buckeye State inventors, with fascinating insights into the pop culture scenes that shaped different periods of history.

Ohio History Center – Free Museums in Columbus Ohio
Source: Ohio History Center – Free Museums in Columbus Ohio

Step back in time as you venture into the Ohio Village, a living history museum that transports you to late 1800s village life in Ohio. Dress up in vintage costumes for a charming old-fashioned photo, witness the blacksmith’s skill as horseshoes are crafted, or take the stage at Town Hall, delivering speeches scripted in the language of mid-19th-century times.

Throughout the center, hands-on activities abound, ensuring an engaging and memorable experience for every visitor. From learning about ancient Ice Age periods to exploring pivotal moments of history, the Ohio History Center offers a comprehensive and enthralling glimpse into Ohio’s rich heritage.

Address: 800 East 17th Avenue, Columbus, Ohio

Central Ohio Fire Museum: A Tribute to Courageous Firefighters

Museums in Columbus Ohio: Step into the beautifully restored 1908 firehouse, now the Central Ohio Fire Museum, and embark on a journey through the history of firefighting. Located just north of Columbus’ Downtown core, this museum pays homage to the brave firefighters of the United States and their tireless dedication to public safety.

Inside the museum, visitors can explore captivating exhibits that depict the birth and evolution of Ohio’s fire service. Discover the earliest days of firefighting with displays featuring historic engines drawn by horses and others powered by steam. Vintage fire trucks, some with primitive motors and even horse-drawn models, grace the museum, showcasing the technological advancements in firefighting over the years.

An intriguing highlight is the Burned Items Display, featuring artifacts retrieved from house fires. This thought-provoking exhibit illustrates the dangers of fire and emphasizes the critical importance of fire safety.

Source: Central Ohio Fire MuseumFree Museums in Columbus Ohio

Beyond the historical artifacts, the Central Ohio Fire Museum is committed to fire safety education. Visitors can experience an interactive 9-1-1 simulator, gaining valuable insights into emergency response protocols. The museum also offers fire safety classes to enhance public awareness and preparedness.

The friendly and knowledgeable staff provides guided tours that add depth and context to the exhibits, creating an enriching experience for all visitors. For young enthusiasts, a dedicated kids’ play area awaits, where children can engage in fun and educational activities.

Before leaving, be sure to visit the gift shop, where you can find unique souvenirs related to firefighting, allowing you to carry a piece of this tribute to courageous firefighters with you.

Address: 260 N. 4th Street, Columbus, Ohio

National Veterans Memorial and Museum: Honoring the Heroes of Our Nation

Museums in Columbus Ohio: Nestled in the heart of Columbus, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum stands as a moving tribute to the courageous men and women who have served in every branch of the U.S. military. This awe-inspiring attraction showcases captivating stories, photos, and memorabilia, encompassing the experiences and sacrifices of our nation’s veterans throughout history.

Overlooking the serene waters of the Scioto River, the museum offers a sanctuary for reflection and an opportunity to delve into every major military event in U.S. history. From iconic battles to heroic acts of valor, the exhibits paint a poignant picture of the resilience and bravery displayed by our veterans.

National Veterans Memorial and Museum
Source: National Veterans Memorial and Museum – Free Museums in Columbus Ohio

For history enthusiasts, guided tours are available daily, providing unique insights into the exhibits and shedding light on the remarkable journey to attain national designation for the museum. As you explore, a profound sense of gratitude and admiration for our veterans will fill your heart.

Amidst your visit, take a leisurely walk along the picturesque Scioto Mile, offering scenic riverfront views and a chance to admire the city’s impressive development. The National Veterans Memorial and Museum is not only an educational landmark but also a place of profound reverence, where visitors can pay tribute to the selfless heroes who have safeguarded our nation’s freedom.

Address: 300 W. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio

Jack Nicklaus Museum: A Golfer’s Paradise

Museums in Columbus Ohio: For golf enthusiasts, a visit to the Jack Nicklaus Museum in Columbus is an absolute must. This remarkable museum pays tribute to the life and illustrious career of Jack Nicklaus, a true legend of the sport and a native of Columbus, Ohio.

Located on the Ohio State University campus, the Jack Nicklaus Museum boasts an extensive collection of over 2,000 artifacts, showcasing diverse golf memorabilia from the Golden Bear’s extraordinary journey. As you wander through the galleries, you’ll witness the remarkable timeline of Nicklaus’ life, from his humble beginnings and childhood to becoming one of the most successful and influential players in golf history.

Taped footage offers an immersive experience, providing a live view of Nicklaus’ incredible games and defining moments in various museum rooms. The Legends of Golf gallery exhibit delves into the history and origins of this beloved sport, enriching your understanding of golf’s evolution.

Delving into Nicklaus’ personal history, the museum grants glimpses into his private life, offering a unique perspective on the man behind the golfing legend. With more than one hundred competition wins and an illustrious career, Nicklaus’ impact on the sport is undeniably remarkable.

For fans of the prestigious Memorial Tournament, the museum’s dedicated gallery showcases artifacts and memorabilia from this annual local tournament, providing an exciting glimpse into the world of professional golf.

If you find yourself with extra time during your visit to Columbus, consider complementing your museum experience with a round of golf at the Muirfield Village Golf Club, Nicklaus’ very own course.

For golf aficionados and admirers of Jack Nicklaus’ legacy, the Jack Nicklaus Museum is a golfer’s paradise, offering an enriching and immersive journey into the life of one of the sport’s true icons.

Address: 2355 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens: A Tranquil Natural Oasis

Museums in Columbus Ohio:Escape the daily grind and immerse yourself in nature at the Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. This enchanting oasis features hundreds of plant species from around the world in towering glass greenhouses.

Explore the rainforest, desert, orchid collection, and the grand Palm House, a Victorian-style glass house inspired by the City Beautiful movement. Wander through 88 acres of colorful parkland adorned with unique plant specimens, including captivating bonsai trees.

Admire the iconic Dale Chihuly glass artwork collection with its 18 vibrant installations, adding an artistic touch to the surroundings. Throughout the year, enjoy changing exhibitions and interactive events like Blooms & Butterflies.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens - Things to Do in Columbus
Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens – Museums in Columbus

Families will love The Scotts Miracle-Gro Foundation Children’s Garden, fostering a deep connection with nature. Don’t miss the Farmers Market during the summer, offering fresh produce and local delights.

Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, cherished for its rich history, is a beloved treasure in Columbus, showcasing the beauty and diversity of the natural world.

Address: 1777 E. Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio

Thurber House: A Literary Haven in Columbus

Museums in Columbus Ohio: Literary enthusiasts will find a haven at the historic Thurber House, once the residence of the renowned literary cartoonist and author, James Thurber. Today, this treasured landmark has been transformed into a Thurber and literary museum, offering visitors a captivating glimpse into the life and works of this celebrated figure.

Explore the two floors of Thurber House as you embark on a self-guided tour, immersing yourself in Thurber’s literary legacy and gaining insights into his family life. The house, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, exudes a sense of nostalgia and charm, providing a unique opportunity to step back in time.

Thurber House
Thurber House – Museums in Columbus

Thurber House hosts regular literary programs, including the popular “Evening with the Authors” series, where visitors can engage with esteemed writers and immerse themselves in the world of literature. During the summer, don’t miss the delightful “Summer Picnic Series,” offering picnic dinners and captivating presentations by featured authors in a charming outdoor setting.

Address: 77 Jefferson Avenue, Columbus, Ohio

The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum: A Paradise for Cartoon Enthusiasts

Museums in Columbus Ohio: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum, located on the Ohio State University campus, is the world’s largest collection of comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. It’s a research facility and museum dedicated to preserving and educating visitors about this fascinating genre.

With over 200,000 original cartoons and artwork, the museum showcases the creative expressions that have shaped cartooning over the years. It houses an impressive collection of 9,500 underground comic books, providing insight into alternative comics. Additionally, there are 2.5 million comic strip newspaper clippings and changing exhibits and events.

Source: The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum

Named after social cartoonist William Addison Ireland, the museum is a paradise for cartoon enthusiasts. From political satire to children’s cartoons, it celebrates the diverse world of cartooning. Don’t miss the annual Festival of Cartoon Art—a celebrated event since the early 1980s.

Address: 1813 N High St, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

Unearth Earth’s Wonders at the Orton Geological Museum

Museums in Columbus Ohio: The Orton Geological Museum, located on the Ohio State University campus, is a fascinating science center that will amaze visitors with its impressive collection of over 54,000 geological specimens. From dinosaur relics to earth minerals, the museum showcases Earth’s natural history in a captivating way.

One of the highlights is a roaring replica of the Cryolophosaurus Ellioti, a 24-foot-long early Jurassic dinosaur fossil. As you explore the museum, you’ll come across strange fossils, ancient reptiles, and curious rock finds that offer glimpses into our planet’s past.

Notably, admission is free, making it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in learning about natural history. Don’t miss the exterior of the building, adorned with rocks representing different geological epochs, some dating back an impressive 444 million years.

Address: 155 S Oval Mall, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.

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