Planning a trip to Wisconsin? All the must-see museums in Milwaukee will top up your vacation with plenty of art, culture, and family fun! Whether you’re mad about art, history, or science—or just looking for a fun way to kill a few hours—Milwaukee delivers a diverse choice of educational experiences.
Expand your artistic horizons at art galleries like Grohmann Museum and Milwaukee Art Museum. Or mix creativity with a dash of history at Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum and Charles Allis Art Museum. Fun and informative, Discovery World and Milwaukee Public Museum offer insight and entertainment for everyone in the family.
Drop the history buffs off at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee and Milwaukee County War Memorial Center, while pop-culture lovers get their fix at the Harley-Davidson Museum and National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum.
Want to design your perfect itinerary? Tailor your day to your interests with this complete Milwaukee museums guide!
Milwaukee Art Museum
Anyone interested in art, history, and architecture will have a fantastic time at the Milwaukee Art Museum. It was Milwaukee’s first art gallery, and they’ve been collecting masterpieces for over 130 years. Its immense collection of 30,000 pieces will transport you to many times, places, and cultures in the space of one day.
Located in East Town, the Milwaukee Art Museum is a masterpiece in itself. Its three different buildings use innovative modern design. The star of the show is The Quadracci Pavilion, designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. It’s a dramatic sculpture with a 217-foot wingspan. With panoramic Lake Michigan views as its backdrop, it looks like it’s about to take off into the water.
Across its four floors, you’ll find over 40 different galleries exploring a range of themes and mediums. Delve into 20th-century Haitian artwork or explore the world of Renaissance master clocks. The museum even has a collection of French prints dating back to 1600.
Milwaukee Public Museum
Milwaukee Public Museum has something to capture everyone’s imagination. This natural history museum helps you dive into the world around us, prehistoric life, and anthropology. It’s been inspiring curiosity in its visitors since 1884.
Get ready to plunge into prehistoric life and travel to distant lands at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Admire the skeleton of a 14,500-year-old mammoth. Walk through a diorama of life-sized dinosaurs. Uncover the civilizations from pre-Columbian America or lose yourself in the stories from the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians.
In the Streets of Old Milwaukee exhibition, you’ll venture back to the 1900s. Gas lamps illuminate cobbled streets with shops and family homes from a century ago.
The Milwaukee Public Museum is a nature lover’s paradise, too. Understand the fight for survival in the Arctic or immerse yourself in the rainforests of Costa Rica.
This top-notch Milwaukee museum is located in the buzzing Westown area. After your visit, make sure you spend some time absorbing the historic architecture, lively entertainment scene, and interesting German heritage.
Send budding racers to the Harley-Davidson Museum. This museum in the Menomonee Valley neighborhood is an emporium of Harley-Davidson heritage, memorabilia, and of course, motorcycles! Interactive exhibits and historical architecture make this a great spot for anyone interested in mechanics, design, branding, and pop culture.
The exhibits at Harley-Davidson Museum give you endless opportunities to immerse yourself in the brand. Learn how motorcycles work in the Engine Room, or try building your own bike. Admire the artistry of iconic Harley-Davidson tanks and follow their journey to becoming one of the most famous brands in the world.
Make sure to check the events schedule to make your visit to Milwaukee extra special. They have bike nights, BBQs, and live demos on offer.
Before you leave, refuel at the Motor Bar and Restaurant. Fun-themed décor, a sunny patio, and tasty Midwestern dishes make this a great way to wrap up your all-American day.
Get budding STEM majors down to Discovery World. It’s a fun day out for the whole family and one of the most popular places to visit in Milwaukee. Immersive exhibits help you get excited about the world of science and technology.
At Discovery World, you’ll become an expert in past and present innovations. Challenge an AI bot to a game of tic-tac-toe or learn how to communicate in Morse code. Take off on the flight simulator and experience life as a 19th-century sailor.
Learn to appreciate the world around you with incredible nature exhibits. Budding marine biologists can marvel at bioluminescence or explore life under the sea at the aquarium. Discover what makes poison dart frogs and axolotls some of the most fascinating animals on earth.
Discovery World is located in the East Town area of Downtown Milwaukee. It’s a lovely spot to take in Milwaukee’s green spaces, lake Michigan views, and impressive 19th-century architecture.
Betty Brinn Children’s Museum
You’ll have a hard time getting your kids to leave the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum. It’s designed for kids under 10 to ignite their curiosity. Hands-on exhibits build on kids’ core skills and encourage them to have lots of fun along the way.
Get your children excited about the world of STEM! At Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, they’ll discover forces of nature, technological innovations, and the periodic table. Learn about velocity while racing golf balls across rollercoaster tracks. Experiment with simple inventions that transformed history.
A visit to Betty Brinn Children’s Museum will turn your kids into model citizens. In a make-believe hometown, they’ll go shopping at the market, take their pet to the vet, and get around on the city bus. Teach them the value of money with a chance to open their own bank account. They’ll even get to change their own tires on a kid-sized car!
The Grohmann Museum is one of Milwaukee’s most unique museums. It’s home to the most comprehensive art collection in the world dedicated to the evolution of human work. Over 1,700 sculptures, paintings, and paper works document life from 1580 all the way up to present times.
Go on a journey through the ages at the Grohmann Museum with artists from across Europe and the Americas. Watch how work shifts from agriculture to crafts like glass blowing and forging. Let 17th-century paintings take you through the innovations of medical technology, then tumble through the industrial revolution and life after WWII.
The stunning 1924 building that houses The Grohmann Museum was once an automobile dealership. Now, it has three floors of gallery space with a rooftop sculpture garden and is a Milwaukee architectural delight. Admire the stained glass works on the atrium dome and the intricate mosaic floor at the entrance.
Jewish Museum Milwaukee
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee is one of the top history and cultural museums in the city. It’s housed in a former synagogue, a fitting tribute for a museum rich in Jewish heritage. The institution aims to preserve and present the Jewish experience through the lens of Greater Milwaukee.
The fascinating exhibits at the Jewish Museum Milwaukee explore the resilience of Jewish communities throughout history. Uncover untold stories of innovation during the holocaust and the Jewish artists of the Great Depression. They also have a huge collection of documents, photographs, and objects documenting Jewish life in Wisconsin dating back to the first wave of Jewish migrants.
The museum hosts fun events and cultural experiences. Attend a tapestry workshop, get involved in discussions about race and immigration, or attend a talk from your favorite author.
The Jewish Museum Milwaukee is located in the Lower East Side neighborhood. This laid-back area has some great museums and lots of pretty lakeside green spaces for when you need some fresh air.
Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum
Lose hours to the historic charm of the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum. This historic house was built in 1924 in a dreamy Italian Renaissance style. Today, it’s home to a fine collection of decorative arts from the 15th to 19th centuries.
Looming on a bluff above Lake Michigan, the grand whitewashed architecture will sweep you away. Spend time admiring impressive archways and ornate courtyards. Step outside into the lush Renaissance Garden. Wander through an elegant world of lush greenery, water stairways, and adorable thickets.
On a visit to the Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum, you can get a sense of the lifestyle of the Smith family, who lived in the villa from 1923 until 1961. Admire the Greek wallpaper of the master bedroom and the wood paneling in the library.
Creatives will find endless inspiration in the collection of decorative arts. As well as beautiful paintings, fine furniture, textiles, and silverwork adorn every room in the house.
Charles Allis Art Museum
Looking for more Milwaukee museums that combine art and historic homes? Check out the Charles Allis Art Museum. This 1911 mansion is the former home of Charles and Sarah Allis. After accumulating a huge collection of paintings, ceramics, and sculptures, the generous couple bequeathed their home and collection to the people of Milwaukee.
With greenery engrossing the front of the house, the neoclassical building of the Charles Allis Art Museum is dripping with grandeur. Plunge into a world of guilded wallpapers and marble fireplaces. The home is a must-visit for anyone interested in architecture or interior design. Wander through the impressive parlors, dining room, and bedroom, all serving as vessels to display the stunning Allis family collection.
On your journey through the house, you’ll spot the Vase of a Thousand Faces and an exquisite Chinese teakwood screen. Every piece in the house reflects the Allis family’s fantastic taste and eye for design.
Milwaukee County War Memorial Center
Honor the nation’s veterans at the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center. This living memorial is a tribute to the veterans that made sacrifices for the freedom of the American people. As well as being an architectural gem, its informative exhibits tell the stories of our soldiers and the wider impact of war.
Eero Saarinen, a famous American architect, designed the mid-twentieth-century building. His inspiration was abstract geometry. You’ll see this in the impressive concrete cubes that lean out over the landscape. On the west façade, you’ll find an incredible 1,440,000-piece mosaic. The colorful mural features the start and end dates for WWII and the conflict in Korea.
The Milwaukee County War Memorial Center is full of fitting tributes. The Honor Roll and Eternal Flame Memorial commemorates the 3,841 war dead in Milwaukee County since WWII. An atmospheric flame illuminates a reflecting pool and black granite mosaic.
North Point Lighthouse
Delve into Milwaukee’s maritime heritage and get a fabulous vantage point at the North Point Lighthouse, standing at the entrance to the Milwaukee River since 1888. As the lighthouse stands at 74 feet, you can climb the 84 steps for sweeping views across the harbor. Inside, you’ll find information about the maritime history of the Great Lakes. There are also fun exhibits and artifacts about lighthouses and the stories of keepers that live in them.
Ignite your sense of adventure with exhibits on everything from traveling libraries to maritime rescues. Learn about Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the genius who invented the reflective/refractive Fresnel lens, saving many lives at sea.
The adorable North Point Lighthouse is a white gem contrasting the surrounding lush greenery and is a shining example of 19th-century design. With a stunning location on the shoreline of Lake Michigan, it’s a lovely spot to relax and take in the surrounding nature.
National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum
If you’re looking for a lighter side to your museum crawl? The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum is one of the most fun museums in Milwaukee. Located in the Walker’s Point neighborhood, it’s home to the largest collection of bobbleheads and is the largest bobblehead-specific museum in the world. Meet bobbleheads from all genres and periods and learn about their history and how they’re made.
Meet your favorite celebrities and ask them a question. Chances are they’ll nod along! The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame & Museum has a collection of iconic musicians, actors, characters, and sports stars. Want to see the creme de la creme of bobblehead creations? Check out the Hall of Fame.
Did you know that these cheeky nodding head figures were in Continental Europe and England as early as the 1760s? Even in the British Georgian era, they knew how to have fun! Unpick the evolution of the bobblehead. Fun exhibits document their growth into the cute characters you see today.