There’s more to the Magic City than bright lights and beautiful beaches. Home to an innovative arts scene and rich cultural heritage, Miami boasts world-class museums that are an essential part of any South Florida itinerary. Here, you will find everything from renowned contemporary art galleries to state-of-the-art scientific institutions. To help you decide which exhibit is right for you, U.S. News evaluated expert and user opinions to bring you the top museums in Miami. Read on to start planning your trip.
(Note: Some of the following locations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Founded in 1984, the Jorge M. Pérez Art Museum of Miami-Dade County (PAMM) is one of Florida’s best modern and contemporary art institutions. Along with stunning views of Biscayne Bay, visitors will enjoy a sculpture garden, a waterfront restaurant, and a wide selection of international art from the 20th and 21st centuries. The museum’s permanent collection features nearly 3,000 works that draw from Miami’s cultural diversity, focusing on art relating to Latin America, the Caribbean and the African diaspora; Pérez also showcases a number of rotating exhibitions throughout the year. The museum offers regularly scheduled public tours that focus on different themes and operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
Address: 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
(Courtesy of HistoryMiami Museum)
HistoryMiami Museum, a Smithsonian Affiliate, is dedicated to preserving and celebrating Miami’s storied past. Visitors can delve into important archival materials at the museum’s Research Center (open by appointment only), or peruse the museum’s more than 37,000 historical artifacts, which include one of the largest Pan American Airways memorabilia collections in the U.S. The museum’s permanent exhibition – titled “Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida” – follows the region’s captivating history for more than 10,000 years. Several temporary exhibitions also rotate throughout the year, and HistoryMiami Museum offers city tours, children’s programs and a wealth of educational resources, including lectures, workshops and panels. Recent visitors appreciated the museum’s informative displays and said it gave them a different perspective on the Magic City.
Address: 101 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL 33130
(Courtesy of Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science)
Situated in downtown Miami’s expansive Maurice A. Ferré Park – right next to Pérez Art Museum Miami – the 250,000-square-foot Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science receives rave reviews from travelers for its interactive exhibits and kid-friendly activities. Equipped with a three-story aquarium and state-of-the-art Frost Planetarium, the museum’s campus features exhibitions focused on the solar system, human biology, physics, aviation and more. Admission includes access to the aquarium, museum exhibits, live demonstrations and one planetarium show.
Address: 1101 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
(Robin Hill/Courtesy of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens)
Fronting Biscayne Bay, larger-than-life Vizcaya Museum and Gardens can be found in Miami’s chic Coconut Grove neighborhood. This spectacular Mediterranean-style estate, built as a vacation home for industrialist James Deering in the early 20th century, receives hordes of tourists every year – and for good reason. Boasting beautiful gardens and the elaborate Main House, Vizcaya is renowned for its unique art collection and large display of ornate Italian furniture. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens offers guided Main House tours for a small fee, as well as tours of the gardens and Vizcaya Village. Various events are held throughout the year, including a weekly Sunday farmers market. Note that all museum visitors must reserve tickets online in advance.
Address: 3251 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 33129
(Courtesy of The Bass Museum of Art)
Eclectic Miami Beach is brimming with top-notch attractions, and The Bass Museum of Art is one that can’t be missed. While the museum showcases some permanent works, The Bass is known best for its ever-changing arsenal of contemporary art installations. In addition to several galleries, visitors may be able to take advantage of The Bass’ Creativity Center, which hosts various programming for all ages, ranging from art workshops to family events. Recent guests complimented the beautiful art deco property and well-curated exhibits; they also appreciated the helpful and knowledgeable staff. As an added bonus, The Bass is located only half a mile from the Miami Beach Boardwalk, making it ideal for vacationers who need a break from the beach. The museum periodically closes for special events, so check its schedule in advance.
Address: 2100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
If you’re looking for a rainy-day activity the whole family can enjoy, the Miami Children’s Museum has you covered. Taking up nearly 57,000-square-feet of space on Watson Island, this premier children’s facility includes 17 galleries and a gift shop for visitors to explore, along with an auditorium that sometimes hosts special events for kids. In fact, it’s one of the largest children’s museums in the U.S. Youngsters can enjoy activities in a children’s art gallery, multisensory room, construction zone, music studio, outdoor playground, virtual aquarium and more. Recent travelers complimented the wide variety of interactive exhibits and said it was a great place to entertain kids for a few hours. The Miami Children’s Museum requires visitors to purchase tickets online before visiting.
Address: 980 MacArthur Causeway, Miami, FL 33132
(Courtesy of Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami)
Located in the Miami Design District, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, aims to foster creativity and community by promoting the work of local, emerging and under-recognized contemporary artists. Exhibits change frequently, and free public programs at the museum encourage innovation and imagination. Recent visitors appreciated the small, intimate atmosphere and said the Institute of Contemporary Art is worth a visit if you’re in the neighborhood or are looking for an interesting place to escape the Florida heat. Admission is free of charge, but recent guests recommend reserving timed tickets ahead of time.
Address: 61 NE 41st St., Miami, FL 33137
(Courtesy of The Wolfsonian–FIU)
Sitting in the heart of the South Beach neighborhood, The Wolfsonian – a museum, library and research center that belongs to Florida International University – houses one of the country’s largest university art collections. The museum features more than 200,000 artifacts that date from 1850 to 1950, ranging from significant war propaganda to mundane household objects that provide insight into the time period. While much of this vast collection is sourced from the U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, its reach extends as far as Latin America, Asia and Africa. The Wolfsonian–FIU occasionally hosts events, such as live music performances in the summer.
Note: The Wolfsonian’s upper floors are expected to be closed for the duration of summer 2022 as the museum works to install new exhibits. Visitors can still tour the ground level for free. Regular admission prices and upper-floor access are set to return in October 2022.
Address: 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
The Wynwood Walls open-air museum is one of Miami’s top attractions – as well as one of the most photo-worthy destinations in the state of Florida. Famous for its unique and colorful graffiti, this outdoor street art installation started being painted onto the walls of abandoned warehouses in the Wynwood district in 2009. Since its inception, more than 80,000 square feet of walls have been covered by hundreds of artists from all over the world. Today, the Wynwood Walls has grown to include the nearby Wynwood Doors, where 15 metal roll-down gates have been transformed into imaginative canvas space. Visitors rave over the awe-inspiring displays, and say even the most art-averse traveler will find something to enjoy here. You can combine admission with a 50-minute guided tour to learn more about some of the murals and artists.
Address: 266 NW 26th St., Miami, FL 33127
(Courtesy of Museum of Graffiti)
Miami’s Museum of Graffiti arrived in Wynwood in 2019, with its focus on the history of street art providing useful context for the adjacent Wynwood Walls. This museum tells the story of how the graffiti art movement gained a foothold in cities around the globe. The Museum of Graffiti features both indoor and outdoor exhibition space (with works that date back to the 1970s), in addition to a fine art gallery and a gift shop. Although some travelers wished the venue were larger, many were impressed with the museum’s informative and thoughtful exhibits. In addition to celebrating a range of talented artists, the museum works to educate the public on the importance of graffiti as an art form and shed light on its historical, political and cultural roots. The Museum of Graffiti offers weekly beginner graffiti lessons and children’s drawing classes.
Address: 276 NW 26th St., Miami, FL 33127
(Courtesy of Museum of Illusions)
Not many people can say they’ve scaled a skyscraper, fought off a dragon or flown on a magic carpet ride. Neither can you, but your Instagram followers don’t need to know that. Located in the bustling city of Miami Beach, the Museum of Illusions offers an interactive optical experience that is perfect for adults and children alike. Strike a pose in front of more than 40 3D illusions, or head to the “Smash It!” room, where visitors are encouraged to blow off some steam by throwing and breaking plates in a safe setting. Guests – who must be 12 or older – are provided markers to personalize three plates with whatever negative energy they want to release. Admission to the “Smash It!” room is separate from general admission to the Museum of Illusions, but combo tickets are available, as well as special VIP packages.
Address: 536 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
The World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM) opened its doors in 2005, when distinguished art collector Naomi Wilzig decided to turn her yearslong passion for amassing fine erotic art into a public gallery on the complexity of human sexuality. Today, WEAM is the only museum in the United States devoted to erotic art, and with more than 4,000 works, it is home to one of the largest collections of erotic art in the world. Pieces date as far back as 300 B.C., and feature a wide scope of different cultures and styles, including surrealism, realism and art deco. In addition to a well-rounded permanent collection, WEAM is known to house several rotating exhibits throughout the year.
Address: 1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
(Courtesy of Florida International University)
One of South Florida’s largest academic art museums, the Patricia & Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University opened its doors in 2008. This Smithsonian Affiliate museum features a diverse permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects, with strong footholds in 20th- and 21st-century U.S. and Latin American art. Additionally, the museum showcases a growing body of objects from Asia and Africa. Plus, for travelers interested in taking their education one step further, the Frost Art Museum offers informative gallery tours, lectures and hands-on workshops.
Address: 10975 SW 17th St., Miami, FL 33199
(Courtesy of Florida International University)
Established in 1995, the Jewish Museum of Florida features a robust collection of more than 100,000 items and is the only institution of its kind dedicated to preserving 250-plus years of Florida Jewish history and culture. The museum, which is spread across two former synagogues and is part of Florida International University, showcases several rotating exhibits and one core exhibition titled “MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida.” Recent visitors raved about the informative South Beach Jewish walking tour and beautiful historic buildings, which feature 80 unique stained-glass windows, a marble bimah and a copper dome.
Address: 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, Florida 33139
(Courtesy of Gold Coast Railroad Museum)
Boasting plenty of railroad memorabilia and more than 40 historic rail cars, Miami’s Gold Coast Railroad Museum is perfect for train aficionados. Check out the Ferdinand Magellan, the only train car ever custom-built for a U.S. president, or let the kids play at the Thomas the Tank Engine tables. Train rides around the property are also offered periodically for a small fee. Recent travelers liked the interesting exhibits and said there was something for both children and adults to enjoy here.
Address: 12450 SW 152nd St., Miami, FL 33177
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