Austin has over two dozen outstanding museums and public exhibits, some famous and some lesser-known. Together, these gems of our city provide residents and visitors with some excellent ways to learn about nature, art, history, culture, and other worthwhile subjects, and have a great time in the process.
Note that some museums have restricted visiting hours and availability. Be sure to check the websites for current information.
Art in Public Places. Austin was the first municipality in Texas to commit to including works of art in construction projects. By ordinance, 2% of the eligible capital improvement funds for each project are allocated to commission or purchase art for that site. Public art is found at the airport and in parks and public buildings. Visit the website to find a directory of public artworks.
Austin Aquarium. Opened in December 2013, the Austin Aquarium includes 27,000 square feet featuring over 35 exhibits with interactive kids' displays, a stingray touch tank, a Giant Pacific Octopus, sharks, stingrays, a variety of tropical and cold water fish, sea turtles, corals, and soon, otters and seals. There's also a rain forest area with hundreds of exotic reptiles and amphibians, and an interactive aviary with lorikeets and toucans.
13530 N Hwy. 183, (512)284-9240 map website
Austin Childrens Museum. Let your kids' imaginations run wild with the hands-on activities at ACM. With over 12,500 square feet of displays, there's plenty here for children and adults to play, learn, and think.
201 Colorado St., (512) 472-2499 map website
Austin Fire Museum. The Austin Fire Museum is located in Austin’s historic Central Fire Station No. 1. It features AFD memorabilia dating to the 1870′s, including a Hook and Ladder lantern, uniforms from the turn of the Twentieth Century, and objects from Texas’s first African American firefighters.
401 E. 5th St. map website
View some of the exhibits at the Austin Nature and Science Center:
Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary. The Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary has over 300 animals ranging from toads to tigers, and lambs to foxes, as well as Texas longhorns, emus, alpacas, deer, sheep, goats, and pigs. Many of the residents were rescued or donated by private owners or roadside zoos. A miniature train takes riders through the zoo, including views of the scenic Hill Country, and views of animals not otherwise on display to the public.
10807 Rawhide Tr., (512) 288-1490 map website
View a homemade video about some of animals at the Austin Zoo and Animal Sanctuary:
Blanton Museum of Art. On the University of Texas campus, the Blanton Museum is one of the leading university art museums in the U.S. and the largest art museum in central Texas. The museum is noted for its extensive collection of prints and drawings, and European paintings.
180200 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., (512) 471-7324 map website
Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. One of the centerpieces of Austin's downtown, the Bullock museum offers three stories of historical displays, interactive exhibits, and IMAX threatres.
1800 N. Congress Ave., (512) 936-8746 map website
Dolph Briscoe Center for American History. A unit of the University of Texas and located on the university campus. The Briscoe Center preserves primary source documents and artifacts from Texas and U.S. history and makes these available to scholars and the public. It also produces books, films, and exhibits.
2300 Red River St., (512) 495-4518 map website
View a video about the Briscoe Center:
French Legation Museum. The French Legation Museum preserves the early history of Austin and Texas. The museum holds family programs, summer camps, concerts, history lectures, and tours. The museum is housed in the original residence of the French Legation, when France was one of two countries that had formal diplomatic representation in the Republic of Texas.
802 San Marcos St., (512) 472-8180 map website
George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. The George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center is dedicated to the collection, preservation, research and exhibition of African-American historical and cultural material. The museum offers gallery and online exhibits, programs, classes, theatre productions and a genealogy center.
1165 Angelina St., (512) 974-4926 map website
Goodwill Computer Museum. The Goodwill Computer Museum collects artifacts of the computer age from the 1960s to the present day for display and educational purposes. The museum is open for tours and also accepts donations to add to its collection.
1015 Norwood Park Blvd., (512) 637-7539 map website
Learn about some of the artifacts at the computer museum:
Harry Ransom Center. Located on the University of Texas campus, the Harry Ransom Center exhibits historical art, photographs, books, and memorabilia including a Houdini movie poster, letters by Edgar Allan Poe, Jack Kerouac's notebook, and Robert De Niro's make-up stills. The center also sponsors public performances and lectures.
300 West 21st St., (512) 471-8944 map website
Learn about the diverse collections at the Harry Ransom Center:
Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum. The home of Susanna Dickinson, the "Messenger of the Alamo", was turned into a museum in 2010. It displays family artifacts and furniture and houses a small public library of books about the Alamo, the Texas Revolution, and early Texas history.
411 E. 5th St., (512) 974-3830 map website
Jourdan-Bachman Pioneer Farms Living History Park. This unique, 90-acre park includes five sites that recreate different aspects of early Texas history. There's also a barn where you can get up close and personal with some friendly farm animals. Okay, you'll have to be outside to enjoy this one. But it's worth it.
10621 Pioneer Farms Dr., (512) 837-1215 map website
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The wildflower center is a 279-acre public garden that displays native wildflowers, plants and landcapes and conducts programs dedicated to increasing the sustainable use and conservation of native plants and landscapes.
4801 La Crosse Ave., (512) 232-0100 map website
View a video slideshow of scenes at the Wildflower Center:
Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library. The recently redesigned library contains 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson's political career. It also has artifacts and exhibits about Johnson's presidency and America in the 1960s.
2313 Red River St., (512) 721-0200 map website
Mexic-Arte Museum. The official Mexican and Mexican-American fine arts museum of Texas. The Mexic-Arte Museum is one of just a few Mexican art museums in the nation. It houses an impressive collection of art by Mexican and Mexican-American masters, and a series of special exhibits including a display of the work of young Latino artists.
419 Congress Ave., (512) 480-9373 map website
Learn about exhibits and programs at the Mexic-Arte Museum:
Museum of Magnetic Sound Recording. This is a public museum in Austin, Texas dedicated to the research, acquisition, restoration and preservation of vintage magnetic sound recording devices, their documentation and history. It serves as an educational resource for those interested in the sound recording industry. website
Neill-Cochran House Museum. Built before the Civil War, the Neill-Cochran House is one of Austin's most important historic residences. It was designed and built by the same master builder who designed the Texas Governor's Mansion and several other important buildings in Austin. Visitors can tour the rooms, view period furnishings from 1780 to 1925, and hear the stories of the building's many occupants through the years.
2310 San Gabriel St., (512) 478-2335 map website
O. Henry Museum. The O. Henry Museum collects, preserves, and displays historical materials related to noted writer William Sidney Porter, otherwise known as O. Henry, one of Austin's most illustrious residents. The museum is located in a home occupied by the writer in the early 1890s and displays some of his furniture and belongings.
409 E. 5th St., (512) 472-1903 map website
Republic of Texas Museum. The mission of the Republic of Texas Museum is to preserve the heritage of the Republic of Texas historic period and to educate the public about the history and culture of that time.
(512) 339-1997 website
Texas Archive of the Moving Image. Texas Archive of the Moving Image is an online collection of moving images that offer insight to Texas’s history and culture. The ever-growing collection includes home movies, amateur films, advertisements, local television, industrial and corporate productions, and Hollywood and internationally produced moving images of Texas. website
Texas Department of Public Safety Historical Museum and Research Center. Located in the headquarters of the Texas Department of Public Safety, this museum was founded by a group of retired DPS employees to preserve and educate citizens about the history of the DPS and provide a view into the future. The museum includes an exhibit area, a small dining facility, and gift shop.
5805 N. Lamar Blvd., (512) 459-4046 map website
Texas Medical Association History of Medicine Gallery. The TMA History of Medicine Gallery displays exhibits and artifacts about the history of medicine from ancient times to the present, and the history of the Texas Medical Association.
401 W. 15th St., (512) 370-1552 map website
Texas Military Forces Museum. The Brigadier General John C.L. Scribner Texas Military Forces Museum, located on Camp Mabry just west of MoPac, displays 45,000 square feet of military weapons, vehicles, uniforms, aircraft, and more from the Texas Revolution to today. The museum is open to the public and holds several major public events.
2200 W. 35th St., (512) 782-5659 map website
Texas Music Museum. The Texas Music Museum contains educational exhibits and programs about the full range of Texas music, including the music of Texas Native Americans, early cowboy songs, music of early European immigrants, and early Mexican American bands, orquestras, early gospel, blues, ragtime, jazz, popular music, and country.
1009 E. 11th St., (512) 471-0520/472-8891 map website
Texas Natural Science Center. The Texas Natural Science Center is a biological research center of the University of Texas. The center's exhibit hall contains exhibits on dinosaurs and fossils, Texas wildlife, gems and minerals, and evolution and is visited by 85,000 people yearly.
2400 Trinity St., (512) 471-1604 map website
The Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center. The Sheffield Education Center is located in the old Barton Springs Pool bathhouse in Zilker Park. The highlight of the center is the Splash! exhibit which offers a fun and exciting learning experience deep inside a simulated limestone cave, with multimedia displays and interactive exhibits.
2201 Barton Springs Rd., (512) 481-1466 map website
The Contemporary Austin. The Contemporary Austin's locations provide environments for people to experience modern and contemporary display art through exhibitions and educational programs.
The 35th St. location is housed in Laguna Gloria, an early Twentieth Century Italian villa built by an Austin socialite that is an attraction in itself. 700 Congress Ave., (512) 453-5312 map
3809 W. 35th St., (512) 458-8191 map
The People's Gallery. The People's Gallery is an exhibition of two- and three-dimensional art by Austin-area artists and art organizations. Artwork in the exhibition is changed every February and remains on display for a year. map website
Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum. This unusual outdoor museum is centered around the artwork of Twentieth Century American artist Charles Umlauf. Visitors are free to take guided or self-directed tours of the sculpture garden. Pieces are waxed on the surface so visitors are free to touch the sculptures. Museum offers classes and children's activities and a peaceful, natural setting.
605 Robert E. Lee Rd., (512) 445-5582 map website
View a video about the Umlauf Sculpture Garden:
Visual Arts Center of the University of Texas. Situated in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, the center provides exhibition and research space through five distinct galleries, and collaboration spaces for students, faculty, and guest artists from around the world.
Trinity St. & E. 23rd St., (512) 471-1108 map website
Zilker Botanical Garden. This "jewel in the heart of Austin" promotes education in and love of plants and gardening. It holds regular events such as films, plant sales, and educational programs and is visited by half a million people each year.
2220 Barton Springs Rd., (512) 477-8672 map website