Want to get more out of your trip to Georgia? Whether you’re here for art, culture, or history, all the must-see museums in Savannah, GA, will give you a fascinating new perspective. This leafy Southern city is more than just a pretty face, with fascinating roots in trade, civil rights, African culture, and even ghost stories.
Savannah witnessed some significant events for the American South. Get a double shot of boozy education at the American Prohibition Museum or admire the fight for equality and justice at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.
The city is also famous for its grand historic homes. Andrew Low House and Telfair Academy are two top choices. But it’s not all stuck in the past, with contemporary gems like the Jepson Center and SCAD Museum of Art giving the museum scene in Savannah some modern flair.
Want to maximize your time in the Hostess City of the South? From the inspiring to the bizarre, this guide will help you find all the must-visit Savannah museums!
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Savannah History Museum
Savannah’s rich 270-year history is one of the things that makes the city so wonderful. Delve into it all at the Savannah History Museum. Its quirky location in the former Central of Georgia Railway Train Shed delivers an immersive experience. Get stuck into interactive exhibits and fun replicas that’ll throw you back to 1733.
At the Savannah History Museum, you’ll go on a whirlwind ride through Savannah’s history with a look at exciting events like the Civil War and the American Revolution. Learn about the city’s industrial past and its role as a major port city. Admire realistic replicas of a colonial ship and a 1919 pharmacy.
The Savannah History Museum is also packed with interesting artifacts. Explore rare items from the city’s railway history and the carriage belonging to the founder of the Girl Scouts USA. Keep your eyes peeled for the famous Forest Gump bench from Chippewa Square.
American Prohibition Museum
Step into the life of speakeasies and bootleggers at the American Prohibition Museum. It’s a deep dive into the cocktail of chaos that unfolded during the ban on alcohol between 1920 and 1933. History buffs, mixologists, and lovers of booze will all enjoy unpacking the social, cultural, and political impact of American prohibition. Before you go, wrap up your trip with the ultimate speakeasy experience.
Get into full Gatsby mode with exciting exhibits depicting the roaring 20s. The American Prohibition Museum allows you to get behind the scenes and uncover the turbulent lives of everyone, from the gangsters to the flappers. Dance the Charleston and learn how to make your own hooch.
But don’t worry, it’s not the prohibition anymore! Make your way over to the museum’s retro speakeasy, complete with swinging tunes and bartenders in costume. All the drinks have a heritage or inspiration from the prohibition, meaning you can educate yourself while you sip.
Jepson Center & Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM)
Mini Picassos will have a fantastic time at the Jepson Center & Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM). Its beautiful modern design houses a fantastic contemporary collection and a range of rotating works. It features Savannah’s first art museum dedicated to children with state-of-the-art facilities where children can let their imaginations run free.
The Jepson Center & Telfair Children’s Art Museum (CAM) stands in stark contrast to the buildings surrounding it in the Savannah Historic District. Sheer white brickwork and sloping lines set an innovative tone for what’s to come. Open your mind with an exciting collection of photography, lithographs, digital art, and installations, including works by Jeff Coons and Nick Cave.
At the Children’s Art Museum, let your kids dive into fun exhibitions, interactive installations, and exciting workshops as they master their craft. Whether they want to learn sculpture, calligraphy, or origami, there’s always something fun happening to get everyone involved.
Ships Of The Sea Maritime Museum
Dreaming of a life on the seven seas? Check out the Ships Of The Sea Maritime Museum. It’s packed with information about maritime history, with interesting artifacts and exhibits from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The Ships Of The Sea Maritime Museum is in a stunning Greek Revival mansion from the 1800s. It was once the home of William Scarbrough, the president of Savannah Steamship Company and an important owner of Steamship Savannah. Get more out of your visit with a stroll through the lovely 19th-century parlor gardens teeming with native plants.
Head inside and dive into adventures on the high seas. Most of the collection focuses on Atlantic trade in the 18th and 19th centuries, with nine different galleries to browse. There’s also a more recent gallery exploring the role Savannah’s navy played in the Civil War.
Examine ship models, maritime paintings, and artifacts with fascinating and intricate details. The large collection of models includes everything from colonial ships to modern navy vessels.
Andrew Low House
Savannah is well known for its historic homes, making it essential to visit at least one during your trip. Why not make it Andrew Low House? This wealthy Scottish cotton merchant’s home is one of the most beautiful sites in the city and is a chance to throw yourself into Southern antebellum life.
This grand home has had a few notable members, including Juliette Gordon Low, the founder of the Girl Scouts, and William Makepeace Thackeray, a famous British novelist. Learn about their lives, their connection to the Low family, and their time staying in the mansion.
On a guided tour through one of Savannah’s top tourist attractions, you’ll get to browse the elaborate collection of art and furnishings inside and take a stroll around the 18th-century French garden. Unpick the history that unfolded in the house and uncover the stories of the slaves that lived and worked here.
Some even say the Andrew Low House is haunted. Why not see for yourself?
Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum
Delve into the story of the freedom fighters at the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. It’s a dedication to Savannah’s Civil Rights Movement, examining the heart-wrenching triumphs and losses of the city’s journey towards equal rights. Interesting exhibits give you a local look at a big slice of American history.
The Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum is named after Ralph Mark Gilbert. He was the pastor at the First African Baptist Church and a civil rights leader who fought for equality and justice in the local community.
Learn about the struggles African Americans faced, the realities of segregation, and the heroes of the NAACP. Photographs, maps, timelines, and artifacts bring these stories to life. See a new side to the city by learning about West Broad, a street in Savannah once home to thriving black-owned businesses.
SCAD Museum of Art
Find new inspiration at SCAD Museum of Art. This teaching museum is also a hot spot for contemporary art. As well as being an architectural gem, the 1853 antebellum building is the oldest surviving railroad depot in the US. Enjoy the soothing combination of historic charm and modern conversions as you explore the colorful artwork.
Inside the SCAD Museum of Art, you’ll find a range of exhibits from famous and emerging international artists. Whether you want to plunge yourself into out-of-this-world installations or experimental sculpture, there’s plenty on show here to challenge your modern-day perceptions.
If you want to spice up your trip, the SCAD Museum of Art also hosts some great events. Attend panel discussions from the artists or take workshops on drawing and meditation. Attend critically acclaimed film screenings or join the students at a life drawing session.
Savannah African Art Museum
Explore the vibrant art and culture of the African continent at the Savannah African Art Museum. Its beautiful collection includes 1,000 objects from West and Central Africa, as well as ceramic, metal, and wood pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries. The collection was created by its founder Don Kole, a Savannah businessman who spent 30 years collecting items.
The objects at the Savannah African Art Museum span 22 countries and represent over 100 cultures and ethnic groups. Marvel at important spiritual items, instruments, textiles, and decorative items, all reflecting incredible creativity and diversity.
Today the museum works with small communities and offers them commissions for the pieces they contribute. They want to use art to inspire change by raising awareness of African cultures, igniting conversations about African art, and encouraging people to embrace our global heritage. Rotating exhibitions take a look at how African culture lives in today’s conversations.
Looking for Savannah museums more on the unusual side? Check out the Graveface Museum. Located on the Factors Walk off River Street, this quirky spot focuses on the human condition, with decades of artifacts covering topics like true crime, cults, and secret societies. The owner is Ryan Graveface, who started his grim collection when he was young and continued his fascination with the macabre into adulthood.
A visit to the Graveface Museum is a chance to step into a world of oddities. Enter the museum through a giant devil’s mouth and start your journey in a sea of shrunken heads, Fiji mermaids, and a five-legged cow.
Make your way down a garish hallway dedicated to the traveling circus. Shudder at the photos and videos depicting various sideshow attractions. Afterward, you’ll arrive at the true crime room, packed with possessions and drawings from famous serial killers.
Finding it all a bit heavy? They also have a fun collection of horror-themed pinball machines for you to let off some steam.
Pack in more historic homes on your Savannah trip itinerary with a visit to the Telfair Academy. This grand two-story mansion is a glowing yellow, adding a fun twist to its neoclassical style. But this isn’t just one for the history and architecture buffs: Inside, you’ll find a wonderful collection of American and European art.
Did you know Telfair Academy is the oldest public art museum in the South? Its impressive permanent collection includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and decorative arts from the 19th and 20th centuries. Inside the grand Rotunda Gallery, Sculpture Gallery, and throughout the house, you’ll find stunning pieces of fine art.
William Jay, an important British architect, built the stately home in 1819. There are only a few pieces of his work still standing, and one of them, the Owens-Thomas House, is three blocks away. If architecture is your thing, why not check out both?
Pin Point Heritage Museum
Want to learn more about Savannah’s rich Gullah Geechee heritage? Start at the Pin Point Heritage Museum. Set in a former crab and oyster factory, the museum tells the story of the Pin Point community, who were isolated here for 100 years.
The former A.S. Varn & Son Oyster and Crab Factory sits among the picturesque salt marshes of the Moon River. It’s now restored as a wonderful museum that walks you through the story of the enslaved Gullah Geeche people, who farmed and fished in the area for centuries.
After watching a short documentary, you can wander through the four buildings in the Pin Point Heritage Museum. Artifacts and artworks paint a picture of the events that unfolded here. There’s something to grab everyone’s interest, from seafood harvesting and production to Gullah language and traditions.
Make sure to stop at the gift shop for informative books, local artwork, and traditional braided sweetgrass baskets.
Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center
With so many great museums in Savannah, it might feel like you’re cooped up inside all day. If you’re looking for a museum that’ll also get you immersed in the great outdoors, head to Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center. One of the most popular Savannah day trips, it’s a great option for shaking up your time in the city, with loads of history, wildlife, and outdoor activities.
African and Irish laborers completed the Savannah-Ogeechee Canal in 1830. It was used to transport goods from the inland plantations to Savannah’s bustling port. The Savannah Ogeechee Canal Museum and Nature Center walks you through the canal’s history with a short film and fun exhibitions.
Now residents have encouraged nature to take the site back, with wildlife like tortoises, pelicans, and alligators thriving along the waterway. Wander the low-impact trails and take in the serene natural surroundings. They also have a great birding program, so settle in and try spotting songbirds and woodpeckers.