Heading to Missouri’s ‘Gateway to the West’ and want to soak up some history and heritage? Best known for its iconic Gateway Arch, fiercely loyal sports fans, and blues music scene, St. Louis also boasts a vibrant arts and culture scene. Dive right in by exploring these must-visit museums in St. Louis, MO—and get your cultural kick in this riverside city!
Whether you’re a culture vulture, a history enthusiast, or an art connoisseur, St. Louis is a treasure trove of fascinating museums. If you have a penchant for contemporary art, the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis is a must-see, and the vast collection of works in the St. Louis Art Museum won’t fail to impress.
Take a fascinating journey through the state’s past at the Missouri History Museum and delve into the city’s deep-rooted connection with blues music at the National Blues Museum. Head to the Pulitzer Arts Foundation for a dose of awe-inspiring architecture and venture into the realm of science at the Saint Louis Science Center.
Inspired to get going on your museum-hopping adventure? Explore The Lou’s incredible art, culture, and rich heritage with this comprehensive St. Louis museums guides.
Step into the weird and whimsical world of the City Museum, where art, architecture, and imagination come together to create a one-of-a-kind experience! Housed in the former International Shoe building in Downtown West, this museum is where art meets play, and creativity knows no bounds.
Founded by the late artist and sculptor Bob Cassilly, the City Museum features fascinating exhibits of repurposed architectural and industrial objects. From caves and tunnels to a giant ball pit and a rooftop playground, visitors are encouraged to have nothing but fun.
Navigate through a mesmerizing network of caves and tunnels carved from reclaimed materials that lead to hidden surprises. Climb and crawl through an enchanting outdoor playground with massive, imaginative sculptures and structures. Dive into an enormous ball pit and ride on the rooftop Ferris wheel against spectacular city views.
The City Museum is so vast and ever-changing that a few visits might be necessary to experience all it has to offer. The museum can get busy on weekends and holidays, so it’s best to head there on weekdays to avoid large crowds.
National Blues Museum
Love a bit of blues? Then a visit to the National Blues Museum is a must! Located on Washington Avenue in the heart of Downtown St. Louis, this museum is a mesmerizing celebration of one of America’s most influential musical genres.
Designed to celebrate the blues’ rich history and cultural significance, the National Blues Museum is home to an incredible collection of interactive exhibits and hands-on displays. Embark on a journey through time as you explore the roots of the blues.
Discover how St Louis was a pivotal stop on the historic Mississippi Blues Trail, where legendary musicians like Muddy Waters, B.B. King, and Chuck Berry honed their craft. Uncover the life stories and contributions of blues legends who paved the way for future generations of musicians. Experience the blues firsthand by playing virtual instruments, experimenting with rhythm, and creating your own blues melodies.
One of the coolest places to visit in St. Louis, The National Blues Museum also frequently hosts live music performances where you can really feel the soul of the music. Check the events calendar and try to coincide your visit with one of these fantastic shows.
Museum at the Gateway Arch
Explore the city’s rich cultural and historical heritage at the Museum at the Gateway Arch. Tucked below the magnificent Gateway Arch, it aims to provide a deeper understanding of the Westward Expansion and the explorations that shaped the United States.
Six interactive galleries tell the story of the founding of St Louis. First stop: The Westward Expansion exhibit, where you can discover the explorers, pioneers, and Native Americans who played pivotal roles in this transformative era.
Then follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark on their legendary journey into the acquired Louisiana Territory and journey back to the time of steamboat travel on the Mississippi River. Head back to the future and learn about Eero Saarinen’s unique design, construction, and legacy of the 630-foot-tall Gateway Arch.
After your visit, take a tram ride to the top of the iconic Gateway Arch for breathtaking views across the city. Stroll through the surrounding Gateway Arch National Park and picnic with the Arch as your backdrop.
Missouri History Museum
Another top-notch spot to delve into the history of both the city and the state is the Missouri History Museum. Set in the tranquil Forest Park on Lindell Boulevard, the museum will take you on a captivating journey from the founding of St Louis in 1764 up to the present day.
Built as the first national monument to Thomas Jefferson in 1866, the Missouri History Museum is one of the oldest historical institutions in the region. A treasure trove of historical artifacts, documents, and exhibits, it highlights the vibrant history of Missouri through awe-inspiring displays.
Step into the fascinating history of St. Louis, from its early days as a French fur trading post to its growth into a bustling river city. Embark on a nostalgic journey along the iconic Route 66, which passes through St. Louis, and discover the impact of this famous highway on American culture, tourism, and mobility.
Explore the grandeur of the 1904 World’s Fair held in St. Louis and witness the city’s development and transformation through large, detailed panoramic photographs taken throughout the years.
After exploring the museum, enjoy a gentle stroll through Forest Park’s picturesque landscapes.
Saint Louis Art Museum
Spend a few hours wandering among artistic masterpieces from around the world at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Surrounded by the urban oasis of Forest Park in the Central West End, this renowned museum is a must-visit spot if you love some art and culture!
Founded in 1879 as the St. Louis School and Museum of Fine Arts, the Saint Louis Art Museum houses an exceptional collection of over 34,000 works spanning various artistic styles, cultures, and periods.
Explore the art and artifacts of pre-Columbian civilizations, including the Andean, Aztec, and Maya cultures. Reflect on the impressive permanent collections, which include European, American, Asian, and African art, as well as ancient artifacts and contemporary masterpieces.
When you’ve had your fill of superb art, head outdoors to the museum’s outdoor Sculpture Garden to admire a collection of beautiful sculptures amidst the park’s natural beauty. Take a break at the museum’s café over a coffee or lunch.
Saint Louis Science Center
Traveling with the family? The Saint Louis Science Center on Oakland Avenue is your go-to for family fun. Science comes to life at this hub of discovery and exploration with various interactive exhibits, educational programs, and hands-on activities designed to inspire a love for science and learning.
Dive into the Discovery Room, an interactive space designed especially for young learners. Kids can engage in hands-on experiments, discover fascinating specimens, and nurture curiosity. Experience science on the big screen at the OMNIMAX Theater and explore the mysteries of the universe at the James S. McDonnell Planetarium.
Don’t miss the thrilling Experience Flight gallery, where you can try to pilot a virtual aircraft! After your visit, enjoy a picnic lunch in the beautiful surroundings of Forest Park, where the Science Center is based.
Soldiers Memorial Military Museum
Don’t miss the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum if you’re a military buff! Standing as a solemn tribute to the sacrifices and bravery of military heroes, the museum has an outstanding collection of exhibits that honor veterans from various conflicts and wars.
Originally dedicated as a memorial to the St. Louisans who served in World War I, the Soldiers Memorial Military Museum evolved into a comprehensive military institution that honors those that did. Pay your respects at the serene outdoor Memorial Court, where a striking central sculpture and eternal flame honor the memory of fallen soldiers.
Explore the Court of Honor, an impressive colonnade that features the names of St. Louisans who lost their lives while serving in World War I. Wander around the museum’s main exhibition galleries and marvel at the extensive collection of military artifacts, uniforms, photographs, and personal mementos.
Spend a moment of quiet reflection at the Reflecting Pool outside the museum, a peaceful space to contemplate and pay tribute.
The Moto Museum
Explore the beauty, innovation, and cultural significance of motorcycles throughout history at the unique Moto Museum. If you appreciate the artistry and engineering behind motorcycles, this haven for motorcycle enthusiasts is a must-visit!
Founded by passionate collector Steve Smith, the Moto Museum has an incredible collection of rare and vintage motorcycles from around the world. From classic vintage bikes to state-of-the-art designs, you’ll find an extraordinary array of motorcycles spanning different eras, styles, and countries of origin.
Explore specific aspects of motorcycle history in themed collections, such as racing motorcycles, custom bikes, and iconic brands. Discover the meticulous craftsmanship and innovative engineering that has created these masterpieces on two wheels.
Keep an eye out for special events hosted at the Moto Museum, including motorcycle shows, workshops, and gatherings that bring together motorcycle enthusiasts and collectors.
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis
Celebrate the thought-provoking world of contemporary art at the Contemporary Art Museum St Louis. This innovative museum takes center stage in the heart of St. Louis’s artistic community on Washington Boulevard in the vibrant Grand Center Arts District.
The Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, often referred to as CAM, has long been a leading institution in promoting contemporary art and supporting emerging artists. Constantly changing exhibitions feature modern art forms, from paintings and sculptures to installations and multimedia.
Delve into the artists’ creative processes and the themes explored in the exhibitions at artist talks, panel discussions, and workshops held at the museum. Don’t miss the museum’s contemporary art shop, where you can find unique and thoughtfully curated art-related merchandise, books, and gifts.
Pulitzer Arts Foundation
Another world-class contemporary and modern art institution in St. Louis is the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. A haven for art connoisseurs and a sanctuary of contemplation, this architectural masterpiece houses a distinguished collection of contemporary and modern art.
Established by art collector and philanthropist Emily Rauh Pulitzer in 2001, the Pulitzer Arts Foundation brings together the meditative beauty of architecture and innovative artistic vision to present an inspiring world of art.
Designed by the renowned architect Tadao Ando, the museum’s building is a work of art, complementing the curated selection of contemporary and modern artworks. Marvel at the thought-provoking works of renowned artists and site-specific installations that interact seamlessly with the museum’s architecture.
Step into the peaceful courtyard garden, a tranquil oasis with carefully curated landscaping that provides a moment of respite amidst the hustle and bustle of the surrounding city.
Griot Museum of Black History
Embrace the spirit of storytelling and honor the untold stories of African Americans throughout history at the Griot Museum of Black History. Home to in-depth exhibits that span the entire history of African Americans in America, this museum promises an enlightening and moving experience.
The Griot Museum of Black History is named after the word “griot” from West African tradition, referring to storytellers who pass down history through generations. A diverse collection of artifacts, documents, photographs, and artworks offer a glimpse into the lives and experiences of Black Americans.
You can also follow the personal stories and experiences of local African American community members in up-to-date oral history projects run by the museum.
Campbell House Museum
Step back to the elegant Victorian era with a visit to the beautifully restored and meticulously preserved historic Campbell House Museum. Located on Locust Street, this charming museum exudes the rich history and cultural heritage of St. Louis during the 1800s. It offers a captivating glimpse into the lifestyle of the wealthy elite during that time.
Constructed in 1851, the Campbell House Museum was once the residence of renowned fur trader Robert Campbell and his family. Take a guided tour through the exquisitely furnished rooms and admire the Campbell family’s period furnishings, artwork, and personal belongings. Your knowledgeable guide will offer insight into the family’s history and the context of the period.
Explore the beautifully restored Victorian gardens surrounding the house with lush greenery and carefully tended flowerbeds. Take a quiet moment to enjoy the enchanting ambiance of the museum.