For more than a decade, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has provided visitors with a unique insight into the nation’s 16th president. The museum is home to an incredible collection of artifacts, books and documents that help tell the story of the man who presided over the country during one of the most difficult times. The library is not part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s network of presidential libraries. It is administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
Adairsville, GA 30103
Just south of Adairsville, the raiders stopped to tear up the track, prohibiting their pursuers from continuing the chase in a locomotive. At this point, the pursuers abandoned their second locomotive — the William R. Smith — and continued on foot. Minutes later, they commandeered their third engine. They ran the Texas in reverse for the remainder of the chase. Today, a small museum located in the historic 1847 Western & Atlantic depot interprets the city’s role in the Great Locomotive Chase and features a number of exhibits related to the town’s history.
The Rock is more myth than reality. Still, the former federal penitentiary attracts more than 1 million visitors annually as a museum. Some of the country’s most notorious criminals were incarcerated on The Rock at one time or another. Several tried to escape, but none were successful. Or, were they? Even though the prison closed in the 1960s, its stories about remain legendary to this day.
Phoenix, AZ 85007
Inside the Arizona State Capitol building, which was built in 1901 and predates Arizona’s 1912 entry into the Union as a state, the story of The Grand Canyon State comes to life. Displays include the silver and copper punchbowl service from the USS Arizona, said to be the only one of its kind. it is composed of etched copper panels depicting desert scenes set into a silver bowl ornamented with mermaids, dolphins, waves, and other nautical themes. In addition, the museum also displays a collection of gifts received by Arizona as part of the Merci Train sent by France to the United States following World War II. Outside, the Wesley Bolin Memorial Plaza on the Phoenix state capitol grounds are filled with an impressive collection of monuments, including one to the Navajo Code Talkers of World War II.
The 98-acre Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is home to more than 230 animal species and 1,200 varieties of plants. The museum was founded in 1952 and interprets the natural history of the Sonoran Desert and nearby ecosystems. There are two miles of walking paths that cover 21 acres of desert landscape.
The Art Car Museum is a contemporary art museum that celebrates the post-modern age of car-culture. The museum features a collection of stock cars and lowriders that artists have remolded and customized to their choosing. The museum, nicknamed the Garage Mahal, opened in February 1988.
Founded in 1879 and located in Chicago’s Grant Park, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the country. It is home to more than 300,000 works of art, including a range of iconic and instantly recognizable works of art. Among the works in the museum’s vast collection are Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte — 1884, Pablo Picasso’s The Old Guitarist and Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Roughly 1.5 million people visit the museum every year. The museum is located in a building built in 1893 for the World’s Columbian Exposition.
Located in the heart of Atlanta’s trendy Buckhead community, the Atlanta History Center was founded in 1926. The museum, which sits on a 33-acre campus, features six permanent exhibits and temporary exhibits. In addition to the main exhibits, the museum is also home to the historic Swan House, Tullie Smith Farm and Wood Family Cabin. The museum is home to one of the largest collections of Civil War artifacts in the United States.
The Atlanta Monetary Museum at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in Midtown provides an interesting look into the history of currency. The museum’s collection includes a nice range of historic bills and coins. That includes $100,000 bills with President Woodrow Wilson and $10,000 bills with O’Hagel printed on them. It also has on display a rare set of coins from the former U.S. Mint in Dahlonega, Ga.
The San Francisco Cable Car Museum on Mason Street in San Francisco’s Nob Hill neighborhood is the perfect museum for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of the city’s unique attraction. The museum includes a number of old cable cars and exhibits about how they operate. Visitors can also see the powerhouse and the actual cables that pull cars up and down the city’s many hills.
Jackson, TN 38305
The house of John Luther “Casey” Jones is today a museum. Although it has been moved from its original location, it is open to the public and features a wide array of exhibits, including railroad memorabilia and Jones’ personal effects. A life-sized replica of Illinois Central engine No. 382, the locomotive Jones was engineering on his last trip, sits behind Jones’ house. The actual locomotive was repaired after the wreck and ran for 35 years before being scrapped.
The College Football Hall of Fame opened in Atlanta in August 2014 in Downtown Atlanta next to the Georgia World Congress Center and Centennial Olympic Park. The College Football Hall of Fame was previously located in South Bend, Ind. More than 975 players and more than 210 coaches have been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. More than 300 schools are represented. The 94,256-square-foot facility includes exhibits, interactive displays, event space and a 45-yard indoor football field.
On March 30, 1842, Crawford W. Long stepped into the history books when he used Ether as a surgical anesthesia. His legacy lives on at the museum that bears his name. The Crawford W. Long Museum in the Jackson County city of Jefferson, about 25 miles from Athens, opened in 1957.
In a picturesque mansion located on the Waaigat inlet and dating to 1729, the Maritime Museum features an incredible collection of artifacts and stories about the island’s inextricable connection to the sea. Curacao was “discovered” in 1499 and has been an important shipping center throughout its history.
In 1898, the federal government built a customs house and a post office at the corner of Second and Commerce streets to help process the increasing volumes of mail to and from the city. In 1984, the building was transformed into the Customs House Museum and Cultural Center touted as the state’s second-largest general interest museum. The museum features a number of permanent exhibits, including the postmaster’s office and Memory Lane, dedicated to telling the story of Clarksville and Montgomery County’s history.
Dahlonega, GA 30533
The 1836 Lumpkin County Courthouse in downtown Dahlonega, Ga., is home to the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. Located on the town square, the courthouse is the oldest surviving courthouse building in the state, serving in that capacity until 1965. The state park is a testament to the first major gold rush in the nation. The museum collection includes exhibits about how gold is mined, tools miners used and actual samples of gold. The building features wooden seats from 1889 and the judge’s chambers.
Waco, TX 76701
The Dr Pepper Museum and Free Enterprise Institute in downtown Waco is dedicated to telling not just the story of Dr Pepper, but the story of the entire soft drink industry. Charles Alderton who developed a unique combination of flavors in 1885 in Dr. Wade Morrison’s Old Corner Drug Store. The soft drink — which, according to legend, Morrison named after the father of a girl he once loved — quickly became known as a “Waco.” The museum is located in the former Artesian Manufacturing and Bottling Company building. Completed in 1906, the structure was the first building built specifically to bottle Dr Pepper and remained in use until the 1960s when operations moved to a facility with more room for canning. The building remained vacant for roughly two decades until 1985 — the centennial of Dr Pepper — when work started to convert the building into a museum. The museum officially opened to the public on May 11, 1991.
The 4,200-square-foot museum, located in Hilliard, Ohio, a western suburb of Columbus, boasts more than 150 television sets, including mechanical sets from the 1920s and American and British equipment from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Many of the sets are in working order. The museum’s most popular exhibits include the collection of early color sets, a DuMont Royal Sovereign, the working Baird mechanical set and the RCA remote telecasting van. The Early Television Foundation, a non-profit organization that operates the museum, is always looking to expand its collection of equipment.
The Elberton Granite Museum in Elberton, Ga., opened in 1981. The free museum is dedicated to telling the story of how granite is produced and its impact on Elberton, Ga., is on display. The many exhibits at the museum include artifacts, photographs and whimsical anecdotes. While the tools of the trade show how granite is carved from the earth, a seven-foot-tall granite statue tucked away in a backroom of the museum illustrates a lighter side of the granite industry and how people view the monuments produced.
The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the world. Known colloquially as The Field Museum, the museum is home to more than 24 million specimens and objects, including gems, meteorites, fossils and cultural artifacts from around the globe. More than 2 million people visit the museum every year. Among the most famous items in the collection are Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton currently known, and the infamous Lions of Tsavo.
Dating to 1769, Fort Church is the oldest church on the island. The church’s associated museum features a number of historic artifacts chronicling the Dutch Protestant congregation that dates to 1635.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center opened on April 25, 2013. The centerpiece is a 9/11 exhibit, but it is but one section of the 14,000-square-foot museum that opened to the public last month. In addition, the museum features a full scale replica of the Oval Office, information about life in The White House, President Bush’s two dogs, a collection of autographed baseballs and an exhibit — complete with hanging chads — about the 2000 election in which Bush defeated then Vice President Al Gore.
The Georgia Capitol Museum traces its origins to 1889 when the Georgia General Assembly revived the office of state geologist and directed him “to collect, analyze, and classify specimens of minerals, plants and soils.” The following year, the governor designated the corridors of the fourth floor of the Capitol as temporary quarters to house the museum.
Phoenix, AZ 85008
The National Historical Fire Foundation is better know as the Hall of Flame. The museum is dedicated to preserving firefighting equipment used in Arizona and around the world. The museum has five exhibit bays and the National Firefighting Hall of Heroes gallery. The equipment is grouped as: Hand & Horse Drawn (1725–1908); Motorized Apparatus (1897–1948); Motorized Apparatus (1918–1968); Motorized Apparatus (1919–1950) and Wildland Firefighting. It has also have a large collection of Fire Department arm patches.
Phoenix, AZ 85004
The story of Arizona would be far from complete without the Native American perspective. While it is at times a difficult story to tell and a difficult story to hear, the Heard Museum does a magnificent job brining the Native American Experience to life. Dwight B. and Maie Bartlett Heard founded the museum in 1929 to house their personal art collection. Today, the 130,000-square-foot museum features more than 40,000 items in its collection, including the Barry Goldwater collection of Hopi kachina dolls.
Atlanta, GA 30309
The High Museum of Art, the premier art museum in the South, is in the midst of a multi-year partnership with The Museum of Modern Art. Through 2013, the partnership will bring many international exhibitions to Atlanta and past exhibitions have included masterpieces by Claude Monet and Leonardo de Vinci.
The Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum chronicles the history of aviation in Las Vegas, from the first flights in 1920 to present day. The museum is located inside McCarran International Airport above baggage claim. Additional exhibits are located in ticketing and at the A, B, C and D gates. The museum is free, so even those who lost everything at the Blackjack table can enjoy this attraction.
Chattanooga, TN 37408
Thanks to mechanic Ernest Holmes, Chattanooga is inextricably linked to the world of towing. Holmes invented the tow truck in 1916 in Chattanooga, Tenn. Today, those trucks are indispensable emergency vehicles throughout the world. So, it makes sense the International Towing & Recovery Museum would open here in September 1995. Over its more than 20-year history, the museum has amassed a collection that includes antique and modern tow trucks and related toys. Outside the museum stands the Wall of the Fallen memorial, which includes the names of towers killed in the line of duty.
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum features an incredible collection of military and civilian aircraft. The museum housed on a historic aircraft carrier at Pier 86 at 46th Street in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the West Side of Manhattan.
Since 2006, the Pinball Hall of Fame has featured a vast array of pinball machines – ranging from modern machines to rarer classics. The attraction is free to visit, but it costs to play pinball. Still, it’s cheaper than the craps table.
The story of fighting fires in Marietta, Ga., from bucket brigades to pumper and ladder trucks, is on display at the Marietta Fire Museum. One of the highlights of the museum is an 1879 horse-drawn Silsby steamer, which is nicknamed “Aurora.” The unit is said to be one of only five of its kind still in existence. The horse-drawn steamer remained in service until 1921 when it was replaced by an American LaFrance Pumper, also on display in the museum. The pumper is famous for being one of the first motorized fire vehicles in North Georgia. Also on display are a 1929 Seagrave pumper, a 1949 Pirsch ladder truck and a 1952 Chevrolet panel truck. In addition to the fire vehicles, a number of antique helmets, firefighting accessories and a “Wall of Flame” featuring photos of some of the city’s larger fires from over the years are on display.
Atlanta, GA 30331
The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site consists of several buildings and sites connected to King. They include his boyhood home, the original Ebenezer Baptist Church and Fire Station No. 6. The area includes a total of 35 acres and was designated as a National Historic Site on Oct. 10, 1980. The King Birth Home, located at 501 Auburn Avenue in the Sweet Auburn historic district, was built in 1895 and is located about a block east of Ebenezer Baptist Church. King was born here in 1929, and the King family lived in the house until 1941. Its was later converted into a two-family dwelling. The Rev. A.D. Williams King, the brother of King Jr., lived on the second floor in the 1950s and early 1960s. The visitor center offers free tours of the house led by National Park Service rangers. Fire Station No. 6 was built in 1894 and served the Sweet Auburn community until 1991. The fire station was an important community meeting place. A 1927 American LaFrance fire engine is on display at the museum.
The water was vital to Chicago’s growth and success as a city, and nowhere is that more apparent than at the McCormick Bridgehouse & Chicago River Museum. The five-story museum is located in the southwest bridge house of the DuSable Bridge, better known as the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The museum includes exhibits on the history of the Chicago River and the bridge, and visitors can access the bridge’s gear room.
The New York Mets’ Hall of Fame & Museum showcases the team’s five-plus-decade history. The 3,700 square-foot museum, located next to the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, features exhibits, photos and videos from the Mets’ history. The museum, on the first base side of Citi Field, is open to fans with game tickets. Some notable artifacts include a Casey Stengel jersey from 1962, Tom Seaver’s 1969 Cy Young Award and the 1986 Game 6 World Series ball that Mookie Wilson hit and “trickled” through the legs of Boston Red Sox’s first baseman Bill Bucker. The museum also features an exhibit about Mr. Met and the “Ring of Champions” display dedicated to the Mets’ 1969 and 1986 World Champion teams. The Mets Hall of Fame includes 21 members. The Mets began to play as an expansion team in 1962.
One might not expect to find a large Jewish population in the middle of a Caribbean paradise. But Curacao is home to the “oldest synagogue building in continuous use in the Western Hemisphere,” and the Mikve Israel Emanuel Synagogue & Jewish Museum chronicles the congregation’s history.
Slavery is a major part of Curacao’s history, and the Kura Hulanda Museum takes an in-depth look at how the institution shaped the island’s history.
The Museum of Science and Industry, located in the former Palace of Fine Arts built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, opened in 1933 during the Century of Progress Exposition. The museum was initially endowed by Julius Rosenwald, the Sears, Roebuck and Company president. Today, the museum is home to more 2,000 exhibits displayed in 75 major halls. Among the most famous exhibits are German submarine U-505 captured during World War II, the Apollo 8 spacecraft that carried the first humans to orbit the Moon and the first diesel-powered streamlined stainless-steel passenger train, the Pioneer Zephyr.
Phoenix, AZ 85050
This 200,000-square-foot, $250 million museum museum opened in April 2010. Its collection is astounding, bringing together more than 15,000 instruments from 200-plus countries under one roof. But, these are not just static displays. To bring the instruments to life, the museum uses a combination of wireless technology and high-resolution videos. When a museum guest approaches a video screen, they can listen to and watch the instruments in action, played by true artisans who can bring them to life.
Since March 2005, the National Atomic Testing Museum has focused its attention on a more ominous bit of Sin City’s history: its connection to nuclear testing and the development of atomic bombs.
The National Museum of Funeral History contains a collection of artifacts and relics that aim to “educate the public and preserve the heritage of death care.” The 35,000-square-foot museum opened in 1992 and is home to “the country’s largest collection of funeral service artifacts and features renowned exhibits on one of man’s oldest cultural customs,” according to its website. The museum features a wide array of caskets and hearses, which one might expect to see at a funeral museum. But, the well-researched exhibits go much deeper, ranging from a look at celebrities’ deaths to the history of embalming to the mourning customs of the 19th century.
New York, NY 10007
Sept. 11, 2001, was one of the darkest days in the city’s history. The city persevered and rebuilt. The National September 11 Memorial & Museum commemorates that fateful day. The 9/11 Memorial & Museum, located in the basement and footprint of the former Twin Towers, is a poignant reminder of the day, with exhibits bringing to life the heartbreaking, heartwarming and heroic stories that emerged from the devastation and destruction.
Housed in the former Court Street station, the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn features exhibits that tell the story of the subway, from its earliest construction to the modern cars that transport tourists and commuters alike every day. The museum opened in 1976. In many ways, the centerpiece of the museum is the station itself. Court Street opened as the terminus for trains on the IND Fulton Street Line. However, it closed in 1946 due to low ridership numbers and sat largely vacant for three decades. It was used at times as a filming location for movies set in New York City. On July 4, 1976, the temporary New York City Transit Exhibit opened in the Court Street, coinciding with the United States Bicentennial celebration. The exhibit proved to be so popular the exhibit was made permanent.
From the days of bartering for goods and services to the issuing of its own Antillean currency, the Numismatic Museum takes a look at money on the island.
Phoenix, AZ 85003
The Museum traces its origins to October 1993. The original small museum in the city’s historic city hall has today blossomed to a more robust museum located in the same building. Open to the public without charge, the museum features a number of exhibits that interpret the city’s law enforcement history. One of the more unique exhibits is the jail rock with leg shackles attached to it. Dating to the 1860s, the jail rock was used to detain lawbreakers in the days before the city had a proper jail. Another particularly poignant display is the Memorial Room. The memorial honors the Phoenix police officers killed in the line of duty.
The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the world’s largest aerospace museums. The museum is home to roughly 300 aircraft displayed across more than 80 acres.
There is a lot that can be said about Richard Nixon. Though he is perhaps best known as the only president ever to resign from office, the 37th president of the United States is a complex person whose fingerprints can be found in so many aspects of 20th-century politics. The Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum first opened in July 1990. An updated iteration of the museum, complete with updated exhibits (including one on Watergate, which led to his resignation in August 1974), opened in October 2016. In addition to exhibits, the museum also includes the house where Nixon was born in 1913 and the VH-3A Sea King helicopter Nixon used when he departed from the White House for the last time as president.
Smyrna, GA 30080
Since it officially opened on April 25, 1999, the Smyrna Museum has dedicated to keeping alive the stories that make the Jonquil City unique — from images of the city’s past to artifacts from important events in history.
Located in a replica of the city’s railroad depot that was build in 1910 and razed in 1959, the museum is home to thousands of photographs, a number of exhibits and other displays, the museum is also home to a number of genealogical research materials.
While admission is free, the museum, which is operated by volunteers, does accept donations.
The 35-acre Southeastern Railway Museum opened in its current location in 1998. The museum, which previously operated on a 12-acre site until 1997, is home to approximately 90 pieces of rolling stock, including locomotives, passenger cars and cabooses. Guests can board a vintage caboose for a ride around the museum’s grounds, which was previously home to a railcar repair facility. The museum has been designated “Georgia’s Official Transportation History Museum.”
A Smithsonian Institution affiliate, the Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History features collections of rare Civil War weapons, uniforms and other personal items; an exciting exhibit about the Great Locomotive Chase, including the General locomotive; and a full-scale replica of a locomotive factory that helped rebuild the South after the war. The Jolley Education Center features a variety of hands-on exhibits to inspire a love of learning in children. During the sesquicentennial, 150th anniversary of the Civil War, the Southern Museum will be hosting numerous events that will explore topics relevant to this tumultuous time in history.
A legacy of the philanthropists John and Dominique de Menil, the Menil Collection opened in 1987. The museum presents regular rotations of artworks from its growing permanent collection, organizes special exhibitions and programs throughout the year, publishes scholarly books, and conducts research into the conservation of modern and contemporary art. The Menil Collection’s main museum building, the first building in the United States designed by Renzo Piano, anchors a park-like 30-acre campus, which also includes the Cy Twombly Gallery, a site- specific Dan Flavin installation, the Byzantine Fresco Chapel — now a venue for long-term installations by contemporary artists — and outdoor sculpture.
New York, NY 10028
The Met was established in 1870 and since that time has built one of the best museum collections in the world. Its collection includes works from such renowned artists as Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse, to name just a few. One incredible piece is by Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, depicting Gen. George Washington leading his trips across the Delaware River.
Originally opened in 1989, the museum, tells not only the story of Kennedy’s assassination and the aftermath of his death, but puts into context Kennedy’s visit to Dallas, which was in essence the first stop of his 1964 re-election campaign. The most powerful scene in the museum is arguably the reconstructed sniper’s perch. According to the Warren Commission, Oswald organized boxes containing schoolbooks into the perch; the museum based its reconstruction on photographs taken on Nov. 22, 1963.
Tombstone, AZ 85638
Perhaps the most important institution in Tombstone, Arizona, is The Tombstone Epitaph. Founded in 1880, this famous newspaper is today the oldest continuously published newspaper in the Grand Canyon State. In 1881, the newspaper reported on the now-infamous Shootout at the OK Corral and has since been transformed into a monthly journal of western history and museum. While the newspaper office is no longer working newsroom, it is home to a rather interesting museum dedicated to telling the story about newspapers.
Tombstone, AZ 85638
For anyone especially interested in learning the full story of Tombstone, a visit to the Tombstone Courthouse is an absolute must. Built in 1882, this building served administrators of the then-newly created Cochise County until 1929 when the county seat was relocated to Bisbee. At one point, a hotel was planned for the structure, but today the courthouse houses a museum dedicated to telling the historically accurate story of Tombstone.
Tucson, AZ 85701
The Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block’s mission is Connecting Art to Life. The Museum was founded 1924 in the El Presidio Historic District of downtown Tucson. It is Southern Arizona’s premier presenter of fine art and art education programs. The Museum features permanent and traveling exhibitions of Modern and Contemporary, Native American, American West, Latin American, and Asian art. The 74,000 square foot Museum offers tours of exhibits, public education programs, and studio art classes. The main Museum occupies a contemporary building. The Museum’s Historic Block of 19th and 20th C. adobe and Mission Revival-style buildings, encompassing an entire four-acre city block, includes the John K. Goodman Pavilion of Western Art, which displays the Museum’s notable art of the American West collection, the Museum restaurant Café a la C’Art, and other exhibition and studio spaces.
Ty Cobb has a tough legacy, to say the least. He is one of the greatest players to ever take the field. He holds the all-time career batting average record with a .366 average, and he was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936 as part of the inaugural class. The Ty Cobb Museum in his hometown of Royston, Ga., puts Cobb in an interesting light. The museum helps tell the story of Cobb and how he helped shape his home town, an impact that is felt even today.
The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum chronicles the Jewish experience and the universal themes of diversity and human dignity. The museum, which opened in 1996, collects and preserves Jewish culture and history through permanent exhibitions like the Absence of Humanity: The Holocaust Years, 1933-1945. The exhibit was designed by local architect and Holocaust survivor Ben Hirsch. The Cuba Family Archives also houses the largest repository of Jewish archival material in the region.
The Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame honors men and women who have contributed to the sport of women’s basketball. The Hall of Fame opened in 1999 in Knoxville, Tenn.
Atlanta, GA 30313
Pharmacist John Pemberton invented Coca-Cola in 1886. The original World of Coca-Cola opened in Atlanta in 1991, but was upgraded in its current location near Centennial Olympic Park in May 2007. The 35,000-square-foot exhibition features the largest collection of Coke memorabilia, a 4-D theater and a bottling operation that produces eight ounce commemorative bottles for guests.