The 10 Best Museums in North Carolina!

Museums serve as outlets to travel to the past, capture the present, and invent the future. Interactive experiences spanning interests in science, history, art, and beyond connect visitors through shared education and entertainment. Here are 10 destinations for timeless exploration at North Carolina's museums.

1. North Carolina Museum of History, Raleigh, NC

Its mission to preserve and present the state's past has led the North Carolina Museum of History to regularly house more than 150,000 artifacts in collections from six centuries. Rotating exhibits showcasing the works of local and national artists encapsulate the landscape of the state as well as its arduous social development. And the stories they tell extend into the Raleigh area. Statues of early North Carolina individuals modeled after forensically reconstructed archaeological remains stand outdoors to greet visitors as the individuals once did.

2. Ackland Art Museum, Chapel Hill, NC

Downtown Chapel Hill is home to the Ackland Art Museum and its permanent collection of thousands of works. The museum hosts a wide variety of drawings, photographs, and prints along with European masterworks, 20th century and contemporary art, local pottery, and North Carolina's collections of Asian art. To bring even more support to the area, the museum organizes several special exhibitions every year.

3. Museum of Life and Science, Durham, NC

The interactive science park and two-story science center at the Museum of Life and Science will excite scientists old and new. Over 84 acres of outdoor exhibits and 60 species of live animals provide safe havens for black bears, red wolves, lemurs, and those curious to see them. The museum also maintains one of the largest butterfly conservatories on the East Coast and invites visitors to observe the creatures during butterfly releases.

4. Asheville Pinball Museum, Ashville, NC

Asheville may be known for its Great Smoky Mountains and vibrant art scene, but the city is also home to one of the world's few pinball museums. Visitors at the Asheville Pinball Museum can play dozens of vintage machines and purchase their own to play pinball at home. The space can be reserved past regular visiting hours for private parties so the game doesn't have to end.

5. Airborne & Special Operations Museum, Fayetteville, NC

Fayetteville's Airborne & Special Operations Museum is a place to honor the heroic feats of the airborne and special operations troops who have contributed to protecting the nation. Owned by the U.S. Army, the museum contains hundreds of wartime artifacts and permanent exhibits with topics including World War II, Korea and the Cold War, and Vietnam. In the Reflection Garden, visitors can contemplate the past and reflect on the efforts of others.

6. North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh, NC

The most-visited museum in the state, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences focuses on research, life-long education, and community engagement. Permanent exhibits located next to professional research facilities allow for visitors to touch the bones of a Right Whale and come face-to-face with extinct creatures. Surrounded by interactive models, dioramas, and theaters, the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences is a place of discovery for people of all ages.

7. Imagination Station Science & History Museum, Wilson, NC

To draw interest in science, technology, and history from hands-on learning is the goal of Wilson's Imagination Station Science & History Museum. An illuminated six-foot sphere illustrates properties of earth science and allows visitors to hold the world in their hands on the first floor. The museum also has a live animal collection located on the second floor of the building. A museum dedicated to the Coastal Plain can be found on the third floor.

8. North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

The largest museum art park in the country belongs to the North Carolina Museum of Art. One hundred and sixty-four acres of outdoor area surrounded the museum's interior of work from the Italian Renaissance to the 19th century. Permanent collections include Egyptian funerary art, sculptures and painted vases from ancient Greece and Rome, and Jewish ceremonial objects.

9. Mountain Gateway Museum, Old Fort, NC

As part of the Division of State History Museums in the Office of Archives of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the Mountain Gateway Museum provides public access to artifacts with local, regional, national, and international contexts. By teaching how North Carolina's past continues to affect the present, Mountain Gateway Museum explores how one state is part of global history.

10. Graveyard of the Atlantic, Hatteras, NC

In its mission to preserve, present, and research maritime history, the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum serves its audiences by sharing findings from North Carolina Outer Banks and discovered shipwrecks. With emphasis on the period 1524-1945, the museum's relics have survived from the earliest periods of exploration and colonization.

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60 Falls Road, Badin, NC
History: Alcoa's rental office, town kindergarten and community building at it original location on the corner of Maple and Spruce Streets. In 199... Read More
6642 Peele Road, Bailey, NC
Mission: The Country Doctor Museum: Dedicated to interpreting the history of medicine in rural America. The Country Doctor Museum invites people ... Read More
101 South Columbia Street, Chapel Hill, NC
Mission: The Ackland Art Museum collects, preserves, and presents great art to educate, inspire, and engage the University and its regional, nation... Read More
3500 Shamrock Drive, Charlotte, NC
Mission: The Charlotte Museum of History, an educational organization, captures and shares the stories of the Charlotte region from settlement forw... Read More
111 North Mountain Street, Cherryville, NC
Discover the World of Trucking: Experience the early days of trucking as they come alive through the exhibit at the C. Grier Beam Truck Museum. Th... Read More
131 West Main Street, Dallas, NC
History: The U.S. Bicentennial reawakened pride in America's collective past. To promote an understanding of that heritage, two community leaders,... Read More
3300 Highway 82, Dunn, NC
The Averasboro Battlefield Commission, Inc. (ABCI) is tasked with the responsibility to preserve and present the story of the Battle of Averasboro.... Read More
1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, NC
The creation of a museum for North Carolina Central University had been a goal early in the college's history. James E. Shepard, then the president... Read More
131 West Church Street, Ellerbe, NC
The Rankin Museum is fun for all ages. Take yourself away from your everyday world and explore faraway places and times past in our exhibits. Imagi... Read More
100 Bragg Blvd, Fayetteville, NC
Mission Statement The Airborne & Special Operations Museum Foundation will provide marketing and advertising efforts to the non-military commu... Read More
116 Green Street, Fayetteville, NC
Fascinate-U is a hands-on children’s museum located in historical downtown Fayetteville, North Carolina. For almost two decades, it has been ... Read More
243 Third Avenue North East, Hickory, NC
HistoryPaul Austin Wayne Whitener was the founder and first director of the Hickory Museum of Art. In 1935, the Hickory native and Duke University ... Read More
119 Piedmont Drive, Lawndale, NC
Located on the grounds of the former Piedmont School, the Lawndale Historical Museum preserves the community and family history of Lawndale and Upp... Read More
112 Vaiden Street South West, Lenoir, NC
Mission:The purpose of the Caldwell Heritage Museum is to educate, research, and preserve the history of Caldwell County through educational servic... Read More
103 West Center Avenue, Mooresville, NC
Mission StatementThe mission of Mooresville Arts is to be an advocate for the artist and to serve as an artistic and cultural resource for the Moor... Read More
132 East Center Avenue, Mooresville, NC
Mission StatementThe Mooresville Museum, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to the preservation of regional heritage through:- Collecting, pre... Read More
201 West Meeting Street, Morganton, NC
Established in 2003, The History Museum of Burke County began to gather and display artifacts of our heritage for future generations.  This st... Read More
1829 Shultz Circle, Newland, NC
Welcome to the official web site of the Avery County Historical Museum. Its purpose is to collect, preserve and display all vital information, phot... Read More
220 Fayetteville Street Suite 100, Raleigh, NC
History:For more than 200 years, Raleigh, North Carolina's capital city, had no repository for its historical artifacts, no place to preserve its p... Read More
15 Jackson Street Extension, Roanoke Rapids, NC
HOURS Open Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M. General Admission 9 years and older:  $4.00 per person General Admission 8 y... Read More
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