All Around Austin

Art to Animals: 17 Best Museums in Austin

Elizabeth Ney Museum. 4 day itinerary for Austin Texas
Explore the former home and studio of Elizabeth Ney, a noteable early Texas sculptor. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

In the center of Texas, Austin is home to tacos, cowboy boots and a lot of great museums. From art to Texas history to military vehicles, travelers and residents can spend a day in an Austin museum. With great weather, Austin even has museums with outdoor collections, especially outdoor sculpture and wildflowers.  Here are the Best Museums in Austin and the best Austin museums for families.

Best 17 Museums in Austin

  • Bullock Texas State History Museum 
  • Texas Military Forces Museum
  • The Thinkery
  • Blanton Museum of Art
  • The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria
  • The Contemporary Austin Jones Center 
  • Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
  • Elizabeth Ney Museum
  • Mexic-Arte Museum
  • Austin Nature Center
  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
  • The Pioneer Farm
  • LBJ Presidential Library
  • Harry Ranson Center
  • Museum of the Weird 
  • Neill-Cochran House and Museum
  • George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center 

Bullock Texas State History Museum 

With its larger-than-life star out front, this is a museum dedicated to Texas and its history. Visitors will learn about the people, places and events that define Texas history. Visitors will also find an IMAX theater and restaurant on site. 

Located at 1800 Congress Ave. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Adult admission (18+) is $13 and youth (4 to 17) are $9.

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Texas Military Forces Museum. Austin Itinerary
Explore the Texas Military Forces Museum for an off-the-radar museum. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Texas Military Forces Museum

Visitors will learn how Texans contributed to the military from 1823 until the present. This facility, on the Camp Mabry campus, is a military installation. It contains lots of aircraft and even tanks, along with uniforms and weapons through the ages.

Located at 3038 W 35th St. and located on Camp Mabry. Open Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Monday). Free to enter.

The Thinkery

The hands-on children’s museum offers 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space for kids of all ages.  Move through the facility that’s divided into zones. For smaller kids, the Thinkery is one of the best museums in Austin for families.

Located 1830 Simond Ave. Open Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., then Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission (2+) is $18, and babies are free.

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Laguna Gloria, Austin Itinerary
Laguna Gloria offers a rambling property to explore dotted with sculptures. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Art Museums in Austin 

Blanton Museum of Art 

Located across from the University of Texas campus, the Blanton Museum of Art is the largest art museum in Austin. Its collection includes 21,000 works of art from modern and contemporary American and Latin American artists, Italian Renaissance and Baroque paintings, prints, and drawings from medieval to contemporary times. Outside, visitors can experience the Ellsworth Kelly installation, Austin, a freestanding building.

Located at 200 MLK Blvd. Open Tuesday to Friday and Sunday  from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed Monday). Adult admission is $15, youth from 6 and older are $8 and kids 5 and younger are free.

The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria 

Along the shores of Lake Austin, The Contemporary Austin at Laguna Gloria features many of its contemporary sculptures in its woodland garden. The facility also includes the Driscoll Villa, a 1916 Italianate home.

Located at 3809 W. 35th St. Open Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Adult admission (18+) is $10 and kids 18 and younger and seniors are free. Free admission on Thursdays.

The Contemporary Austin Jones Center 

Its downtown location makes this an easy museum to visit when in town. Its 8,000-square-foot space covers two floors and offers a roof deck. The Jones Center is home to contemporary art and exhibitions.

Located at 700 Congress Ave. Open Wednesday from noon to 9 p.m., Thursday to Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Adult admission is $10 and kids (18 and younger) are free. Free admission on Thursdays.

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best Austin Texas museums for families. Umlauf
Stroll the garden at the Umlauf. Photo Credit: Catheirne Parker

Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum 

Walk through a landscaped garden with the sculptures of Charles Umlauf, a former University of Texas professor. It’s one of the best museums in Austin.

Located at 605 Azie Morton Rd. Open Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $7 and students (13 to 17) are $1. 

Elizabeth Ney Museum

Visitors see many examples of Elizabeth Nee’s sculpture in the former Ney studio, where she lived and worked. Born and educated in Germany, she immigrated to Texas in 1882 and sculpted Texas legends like Stephen F. Austin and Sam Houston. The gardens around the home are lovely, too.

Located at 304 E. 44th St. in Hyde Park, the historic neighborhood north of the University of Texas. Open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. (Closed Monday and Tuesday). It is free to enter.

Mexic-Arte Museum 

A downtown museum dedicated to Mexican and Latinx art and artists with special events, including an extended Dia de los Muertos.

Located at 419 Congress Ave. Open Monday to Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $7, students are $4 and kids (12 and younger) are $1.

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Austin Nature Center. Austin Itinerary
The Austin Nature Center offers hiking along with rehabilitated animals. Photo Credit: Catherine Parker

Outdoor Museums in Austin 

Austin Nature Center

Visitors will learn about environmental science in an indoor/outdoor space. A favorite with kids is the native animals in rehabilitative care. Guests can also take the Forest Trail to see native trees then head to the overlook to see the Austin skyline.

Located at 2389 Strafford Dr. Open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free to enter.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center 

Visitors will learn about the native plants of Texas in this 284-acre facility. It features 900 different varieties, including trees, cultivated gardens, and wildflowers. Another good option for kids, this is one of the best Austin, Texas, museums for families.

Located at 4801 La Crosse Ave. Open daily at 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $15, youth are (5 to 17) are $8 and those 4 and younger are free.  

The Pioneer Farm

With a 90-acre facility, visitors experience life in the 1880s Texas. Historical interpreters demonstrate skills of the time period and it offers workshops staffed with artisans.  With its animals, The Pioneer Farm is the one of the best museums in Austin for kids. 

Located at 10621 Pioneer Farms Dr. Open from Thursday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult admission is $8 and kids (3 to 17 are $6.

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More Austin Museums

LBJ Presidential Library

Located at the University of Texas, the LBJ Presidential Library houses the archives of the 36th President of the U.S. and a native of the Texas Hill Country. As the president during a pivotal period of U.S. history, the library offers exhibits on both LBJ and his wife Lady Bird.

The LBJ Presidential Library hosts a range of speakers during the year as well as traveling exhibitions.

Located at 2313 Red River St. Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets prices vary by day.

Harry Ranson Center

As the archives of the University of Texas, the exhibitions change frequently. However, the Harry Ranson Center has a complete Guttenburg Bible. Its collection features manuscripts, early books, photographs and artwork.

Located at the 300 W. 21st St. on the University of Texas Campus. Open from Tuesday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. It is free to enter.

Museum of the Weird 

Along the infamous Sixth Street and in the middle of the entertainment district, visitors get a dose of the weirdness of Austin. It offers a collection of oddiites and best for teens.

Located at 412 E. Sixth St. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Adult admission is $12.99 and kids (8 and younger) are $8.99

Neill-Cochran House and Museum

Built 1855 though the original owners never moved into the Greek Revival rock house. It served as a school for the blind and a federal war hospital instead.  In 1875, the Neill family moved in, followed by the Cochran Family. The historic house full of antique furnishings. 

Located at 2310 San Gabriel St. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Adult admission is $10, students are $8 and kids 12 and younger are free. 

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George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center 

This museum offers exhibits and collections of African American culture and is not dedicated to George Washington Carver, the inventor. One of the core exhibits depicts the life of African Americans in 19th-century Texas.

Located at 1165 Angelina St. Open Monday to Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Sunday). Free to enter.

 

Austin, Texas, hosts an ecceltic mix of museums with offerings on pop culture, art, Texas history and more. Get out and explore some of the unique along with most picturesque museums in Austin, Texas. Best Museums in Austin | History Museums in Austin | Art Museums in Austin | Best Austin Musuems for Families #Austin #Museums

 

Catherine Parker has a passion for travel and seen all 50 U.S. States. As a former flight attendant with one of the largest airlines, there isn't a North American airport that she hasn't landed in at least once. Since clipping her professional wings after 9/11, she combines her love of the open road with visiting architectural and cultural icons. She is based out of Central Texas dividing her time between writing and restoring a pair of 100-year-old houses. She shares her life with her three kids and her husband.

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