Creativity abounds in Nebraska’s biggest city, and nowhere is this more evident than in all the wonderfully diverse museums in Omaha! Art, architecture, history, and science – whatever your proclivity, you’ll find a museum to get your fix.
The pink marble masterpiece of the Joslyn Art Museum, with its 11,000 works of art, is a must-see for classical art lovers. Those with a penchant for contemporary art and cutting-edge creativity can explore the Bemis Center for Contemporary Art.
Housed in Omaha’s historic Art Deco train station, the Durham Museum is a treasure trove of history and culture that offers a journey through time.
For ghostly tales and ghoulish exhibits, stop at the Museum of Shadows. Or, if you prefer the beauty of light and color, the Kiewit Luminarium promises to delight! Traveling with kids? The Omaha Children’s Museum promises hours of interactive fun and learning.
Ready to delve into the Gateway to the West’s vibrant cultural scene? Plan your adventures with this complete guide to the top Omaha museums!
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The Durham Museum
Take a journey through the history and culture of Omaha and the Midwest at the Durham Museum. Housed in the beautiful Union Station, a historic Art Deco building dating back to 1931, the museum is a wonderful piece of history. Once a bustling train station, the museum now brings the history of Omaha to life and is one the coolest places to go in Omaha for history buffs.
Explore meticulously curated exhibits that paint a vivid picture of Omaha’s past. From the early pioneer days to the bustling railroad era, the museum offers a journey through time. Highlights include a restored train passenger car and an in-depth look at how the railroad shaped the American West.
The Durham Museum isn’t just about observing history; it’s about experiencing it. Engage with interactive exhibits that make history come alive. From hands-on displays to immersive activities, there’s something for visitors of all ages. Keep an eye on their event calendar for workshops, lectures, and special exhibitions.
Omaha Children’s Museum
Young adventurers and their families can enjoy a day of excitement, discovery, and playful learning at the Omaha Children’s Museum. Let your little ones’ imaginations run wild as they navigate through a world of discovery at this hub of creativity.
From imaginative play areas to science-themed zones, the Omaha Children’s Museum offers a world of exploration. Kids can explore concepts like physics, art, and even commerce by pretending to be storekeepers or shoppers in a kid-sized grocery store.
Other fun exhibits include a whimsical science and technology center and a delightful art studio where creativity knows no bounds.
Designed for interactive learning, the museum features interactive demonstrations and daily activities encouraging kids to touch, play, and engage with the exhibits. From science experiments to art projects, there’s always something exciting happening at the museum.
The Wiggle Room is a dedicated space for toddlers and their caregivers. It’s a safe, padded play area with toys and activities suitable for the Omaha Children’s Museum’s tiniest guests.
Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts
Fan of contemporary art? Don’t miss the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts on South 12th Street in Downtown Omaha. Founded in 1981 by Ree Schonlau, this creative hub has been at the forefront of contemporary art in the Midwest.
The Bemis Center is all about embracing the avant-garde in art. They continually roll out fresh exhibitions and programs featuring artists from across the globe. It’s less about traditional art and more about art that makes you ponder, “What’s the story here?”
One intriguing aspect is their Artists-in-Residence program. They host artists from diverse backgrounds; sometimes, you can chat with them about their craft. Think of it as an art laboratory!
Keep an eye on their ever-changing roster of exhibitions and events. From mind-bending art on the walls to talks, movie nights, and performances, they keep things lively. If you’re eager to delve deeper into the art world, they offer programs and workshops for all ages.
Tour the artist studios and discover where artists work their magic. Don’t forget to visit their store. You can pick up unique items, books, and prints. It’s the perfect place to snag an artsy keepsake.
The Kiewit Luminarium is like walking into a dream of color and light. If you’re an art lover or looking for a bit of visual magic, visiting this incredible museum is a must! Located on Dodge Street, the luminarium is a temporary art installation that’s all about immersive luminous experiences.
Created by the renowned Architects of Air, a group known for creating these incredible structures around the world, the Luminariums are like giant inflatable sculptures filled with colors and light.
When you step inside, you’ll find yourself in a maze of winding paths and towering domes filled with radiant colors. The sunlight filters through the colored PVC, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.
Explore the nooks and crannies, and you’ll discover how different colors and spaces can evoke emotions and spark your creativity. Take a moment to unwind and reflect. The gentle play of light and color can be meditative.
Joslyn Castle & Gardens
Spend a few hours exploring the magnificent Joslyn Castle & Gardens and get a glimpse of Omaha’s history and architectural beauty. This tranquil oasis in the heart of Omaha is an exquisite example of the craftsmanship of a bygone era.
Designed by John McDonald for George and Sarah Joslyn, the Joslyn Castle was built in the Scottish Baronial style. It’s an architectural masterpiece with features like turrets, battlements, and grand chimneys. The interior is equally impressive with its intricate woodwork, elegant staircases, and beautifully crafted fireplaces.
Take a guided tour of the castle and explore its history and architecture while admiring its stone walls, intricate woodwork, and stained-glass windows.
Stroll through the lush gardens, which are beautiful and a peaceful place to unwind. With seasonal blooms, a koi pond, and charming walkways, the gardens invite you to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
General Crook House Museum
Venture on a captivating journey back in time at the General Crook House Museum. The museum is within the scenic Heartland of America Park, which provides a charming backdrop for exploring its historical treasures.
Step into the Victorian era as you enter the General George Crook House. General Crook, a prominent figure in American history, served in the Civil War and the Indian Wars of the American West. The house was built in 1879 and was home to the Crook family during his time stationed in Omaha.
The museum is a well-preserved piece of history. As you explore the rooms, you’ll be transported to the late 19th century, surrounded by period-appropriate furnishings, artifacts, and decor. The house offers a fascinating glimpse into the life of a military leader and his family during this pivotal period in American history.
Beyond just touring the house, you can take part in various activities and events hosted by the museum. These may include guided tours, educational programs, and special events that provide deeper insights into the history and culture of the time.
El Museo Latino
Delve into the rich and diverse tapestry of Latino heritage at the El Museo Latino. Founded as the first Latino art and history museum in the Midwest, this vibrant cultural hub celebrates the beauty of Latino art and culture.
El Museo Latino is a cultural treasure trove. It features an impressive collection of artworks, artifacts, and exhibitions that celebrate Latino communities’ diverse cultures and contributions. As you explore, you’ll encounter spectacular visual art, crafts, and historical displays that offer insights into Latino culture’s vibrant traditions and history.
Throughout the year, El Museo Latino hosts cultural festivals open to the public. These festivals often feature live music, dance performances, traditional cuisine, and vibrant art displays. They offer a fantastic opportunity to immerse yourself in the lively spirit of Latino culture. Check their event calendar to see what’s happening during your visit.
Joslyn Art Museum
When it comes to art In Omaha, the Joslyn Art Museum is a top pick! Located on Dodge Street in the heart of the city, this cultural gem is one of the most renowned art institutions in the region.
Founded in 1931 by Sarah H. Joslyn in memory of her late husband, George A. Joslyn, the Joslyn Art Museum is housed in a magnificent Art Deco with beautiful marble columns and intricate detailing. Inside, you’ll find an extensive and diverse collection of art.
From European masterpieces by painters like Titian, El Greco, and Monet to American artworks that span centuries, the museum offers something for every art enthusiast. They also have an impressive assortment of Greek, Roman, and Native American art.
Don’t miss the classical antiquities section if you’re a history buff. Gaze upon sculptures and artifacts from ancient civilizations, transporting you back in time. If you visit with children, head to the interactive Art Works area, where kids can engage with art through hands-on activities.
Museum Of Shadows
If you’re up for something unusual, the Museum of Shadows is a must-visit. Not your typical art or history museum, this odd spot is all about the mysterious and the macabre. Fascinated with the unexplained, paranormal, and eerie? You’re in for a treat!
Housed in a historic building on 11th Street, the Museum of Shadows is home to a vast collection of haunted and cursed objects. From haunted dolls to cursed mirrors, each item is carefully curated to give you a glimpse into the darker side of history.
Explore the haunted dolls collection, which are said to be possessed by spirits. Learn about the history and legends surrounding these eerie artifacts and their chilling and captivating stories.
Take a guided tour led by knowledgeable docents well-versed in the paranormal world. These tours take you through the museum’s collections while sharing stories of hauntings, ghostly encounters, and unexplained phenomena.
For the truly adventurous, the museum offers paranormal investigation tours. You’ll have the chance to use actual ghost-hunting equipment and explore the museum in the dark, looking for signs of supernatural activity.
Great Plains Black History Museum
When you’re in Omaha, the Great Plains Black History Museum is the place to explore the region’s rich African-American history and culture. The museum has a fascinating history that reflects the enduring spirit of the African-American community in Omaha.
Established in 1975, the Great Plains Black History Museum celebrates and preserves the contributions of Black people in the Great Plains region. You’ll find a range of permanent and rotating exhibits that showcase African Americans’ achievements, struggles, and culture in the Great Plains.
Explore artifacts, photographs, artwork, and documents that tell powerful stories. Dive into the history of the civil rights movement and the local leaders who played pivotal roles in fighting for equality. The museum pays homage to individuals who significantly impacted civil rights in Nebraska and beyond.
Discover the influence of African-American musicians, artists, and performers from the region. The museum often hosts events featuring live music and art displays, so be sure to check their schedule!
Union Pacific Railroad Museum
Want to know more about the rich history of American railroads? Make your way to the Union Pacific Railroad Museum, where the legacy of American railroads comes to life.
You’ll find the Union Pacific Railroad Museum on Pearl Street in Council Bluff, Iowa, just a short drive from downtown Omaha. It’s located in the beautifully restored 1911 Carnegie Library building and is a treasure trove of American railroad history.
Outstanding exhibits provide a captivating journey through time. From historic locomotives and railroad memorabilia to interactive displays that tell the story of the railroad’s impact on the nation, it’s all here.
Discover the history of the Golden Spike, which symbolized the completion of the First Transcontinental Railroad in 1869. The museum has a replica of this iconic spike, and it’s a must-see! If you’re a fan of model trains, you’re in for a treat. The fantastic model train layout here showcases the evolution of trains and railroads.
The Union Pacific Railroad Museum also houses an extensive collection of Union Pacific artifacts, including photographs, documents, and personal stories of the people who built and operated the railroad.
Enjoy hands-on exhibits that engage visitors of all ages. Try your hand at operating a railroad switch, learn about railroad signaling, and even climb into a vintage caboose.
Dodge House-Historic General
While in Council Bluff, Iowa, visit the Dodge House-Historic General on South Third Street. This beautiful mansion was once the home of General Grenville M. Dodge, a prominent figure in American history.
Built in 1869, the Dodge House-Historic General is a spectacular example of Victorian architecture. Be transported back in time to the 19th century as you step inside the mansion. You’ll see elegantly furnished rooms, period-appropriate décor, and captivating exhibits that bring the history of the Dodge family and their time to life.
While you can explore the house on your own, consider joining a guided tour if available. Knowledgeable guides can share captivating stories and insights about the Dodge family and the era in which they lived.
When you’re done exploring the grandeur of the mansion, wander through the beautifully landscaped gardens surrounding the estate. It’s a tranquil oasis, perfect for a stroll and fantastic photos.