10 Best Museums in Austin to Explore

10 mins read

  Exploring a museum is always a wonderful experience because each one has its personality, story, style, beauty, and, of course, substance. The themes of museums and their collections vary considerably from city to city and might include everything from firefighter’s museums to fine art museums to sports museums. 

The city of Austin is known for its broad and eclectic culture, which it has been preserving since the past. The museums in Austin, Tx, have a plethora of diversity ranging from European paintings, exhibition space, art galleries to even some great places and interesting activities for kids.

Home to myriad culture, these museums embody it in the best possible way. The City is known as the music capitol of the world and a regular jamming session along with free flowing beer describes the life of a typical teenager living in the place. 

It is a great technological hub and there are many start ups coming up in the place. Austin as a city encourages huge flow of investment.

Austin will make you dive more in history as the cultural insight that this place offers will leave you surprised. This place has a collection of classic museums and equally queer artifacts. Museums here are extremely alluring and tourists love hanging around in this place.

If you’re having trouble deciding, check out the 10 Best museums in Austin you may not want to miss.

1. The Blanton Museum of Art

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By: Ethan Lundgaard/flickr
  • Location: It is an Art Gallery on the University of Texas campus, Austin
  • Time to visit:  
  • 10:00 AM-5.00 PM (wed-sat)
  • 1.00 PM-5.00 PM (Sunday)
  • Closed on Monday and Tuesday
  • Ticket: The ticket rate starts from $5 onward. However, Thursdays are free.

About:

The Blanton Museum is a two-story structure and one of the country’s major university art museums. It has a one-of-a-kind collection of around 18,000 antiquities and other modern artworks, making it one of the largest in Central Texas. American, Latin American art, European art, and prints and drawings form the heart of the collection, which is complemented by new purchases of contemporary works.

Blanton is especially known for its contemporary and modern, American and Latin American art. Italian art and baroque paintings are other additions to the list. Displaying Edward Kelly’s Austin this museum exhibits art that is thought provoking, visually arresting and personally moving.

The museum is located at the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard and Congress Avenue. Tickets are available and you can check in for ticket prices and discounts.

The first floor of the Blanton museum of art holds some of the finest contemporary art decors and even holds a painting of the George Bush second.

2. LBJ Presidential Library

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By:Daniel X. O’Neil/flickr
  • Location: LBJ is a Library and Museum located in the University of Texas, Austin
  • Time to explore:  Opens daily from 9.00 AM TO 5.00 PM

No visitor is admitted after 4.00 PM. The museum is closed on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and Thanksgiving.

  • Ticket price: General price of the ticket is $13. However, several concessions are available. All tickets are available at half price on Tuesdays.

About:

This institution, situated in a ten-story travertine-clad building, is a virtual treasure mine of papers, photographs, and artifacts from the inspired life of the frequently colorful and much-loved former president. A facsimile of LBJ’s Oval Office, as well as gifts of the state received by him, displays from his youth, and a memorial to Mrs. Johnson’s humanitarian and environmental work, were amongst the exhibits.

This is the Presidential Library and museum of Lyndon Baines Johnson the 36th President of United States. It is one among the fourteen Presidential Libraries that is under the National Archives and Records Administration. The Library has served as an important venue for memorable events with Presidents, First Ladies, foreign dignitaries and Foreign heads of State.

3. Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

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By: libby rosof/flickr
  • Location:  Harry Ransom Center is an archive, library, and gallery located at the University of Texas, Austin.
  • Time to visit: 
  • For exhibitions: Tuesday–Friday 10 AM–5 PM
  • Saturday–Sunday Noon–5pm
  • Closed Mondays
  •  For Reading and Viewing Room at Harry Ransom center
  • Monday–Friday 10 AM–4 PM
  • Closed Saturdays and Sundays
  • Ticket price: Admission is free

About:

The Mari and James A. Michener Collection of 20th Century Art are housed at this intriguing facility, which has an extraordinary collection of modern American paintings. Literary and cultural artifacts from across Europe and America are found here for advancing the study of art and humanities.

The Ransom Center has a collection of 36 million manuscripts, five million photographs, one million rare books and one lakhs work of art.  Its huge collection allow commoners to understand the creative process and in deepening our understanding of art and literature.

 It also has a Gutenberg Bible, a great photographic library (containing the first image ever taken), and reproduction of Erle Stanley Gardner’s study, where he penned “Perry Mason.”

4. Umlauf Sculpture Garden & Museum

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By: Nick Amoscato/flickr
  • Location: Umlauf is a museum and outdoor sculpture garden located in Barton Springs District, South Austin.
  • Time to visit:  Tuesday – Friday: 10 AM-4 PM
  • Saturday & Sunday: 11 AM-4 PM
  • Mondays are closed
  • Ticket: Ticket price starts from $1 onwards.

About:

Lush green landscape here blends with high art to produce harmonious synchronization of beauty and man made sculptures and the UMLAUF Sculpture Garden and Museum embodies the very idea of it. The backdrop allows you to enjoy the serenity and sanctity of the place. This spot is also a venue for near perfect marriages.

This museum is tagged as historical site and this place employs only five persons to keep it worth exhibiting. The revenue generated is $1.05 million in sales every year. This place use to be Charles Umlauf’s personal sculpture garden.

This place comes with a breath of fresh air. You will experience a lot of tranquility and the morning yoga session will leave you feeling positive for the rest of the day.

The complex’s outside garden has 62 bronze and cast-stone sculptures by sculptor Charles Umlauf. During his career, the sculptor also worked in wood, marble, and terra cotta, and his subjects were dedicated to mythology, animals, religion, the human form, and household ensembles. More than 200 other items are housed at the building, which opened in 1991. The indoor hall features 4-5 rotating exhibits a year.

5. Mexic-Arte Museum

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That other paper/flickr
  • Location: Mexic Arte museum is a fine arts museum in downtown Austin’s Congress Ave area.
  • Time to see: 
  • Monday-Thursday:10 AM to 6 PM
  • Friday-Saturday: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Sunday: 12 PM to 5 PM
  • Ticket: Ticket price starts from 1$ onwards.

About:

This downtown museum has become a significant component of the neighborhood, offering a variety of art and cultural activities and major exhibitions featuring the work of Latino and Mexican artists. Traveling exhibits and in-house curated shows are displayed in the museum’s main gallery. In contrast, the rear gallery includes works by local artists and some emerging artists who have never been presented in Austin before.

The Mexican artists who started the Dead Festival that year also ensured that it remained the longest running festival in Texas. This festival exhibits works of Latino and Tejano artists and also has its regular rounds of entertainment, recreation and educational programs.

This museum is one of the few museums in USA that provides unique glimpses of the ethnic Mexican culture and in that way it is also a heritage site.

A celebration of El Dia de Los Muertos and a show of textile works from Oaxaca were among the past exhibitions.

6. Bullock Texas State History Museum

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By:Jordan Hatcher/flickr
  • Location: It is a museum, cinemas, Venues, and event spaces in Downtown Austin, Texas.
  • Time to visit:  
  • Wednesday-Sunday: 10 AM to 5 PM
  • Ticket: The ticket price for the museum starts from 9$ onwards, and for the IMAX theater, it starts from 7$ onward.

About:

Approximately 9 million visitors have had a fascinating and instructive encounter at the Bullock Texas State History Museum, which has presented the narrative of Texas. Hundreds of artifacts, documentaries, and community activities are available to help visitors learn more about Texas’ intriguing past.

Over 700 distinct items are on display across three floors. On the first level, the “Becoming Texas” exhibition delves into Texas history. The second level explores Texas’ history through the Civil War, Reconstruction, and the Great Depression. Finally, the third level depicts Texas’s rise to national prominence in the twentieth century.

There are original Goddess of History Statue that initially resided at the top of the State Capitol’s dome as well as Edgar Mitchell’s space suit  that he had used for Apollo 14 mission to the moon. The museum houses the largest IMAX screen in Texas as well as 4D Texas Spirit Theater featuring documentaries.

The museum opened in 2001 and ever since that time almost 9 million people have visited it to delve into the history of this lone star state.

 

7. Thinkery

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By:Donnie Ray Jones/flickr
  • Location: Thinkery is a children’s museum and kids activities area in Austin, Texas.
  • Time to visit:  Open daily, but visiting hours vary from time to time.
  • Ticket price: Admission is $14 per person, and children 23 months and under are free.

About:

Thinkery is a place where Austin’s kids and their families may engage in inquiry-based, hands-on learning via play.

The Austin Children’s Museum would expand and evolve into Thinkery over the following three decades, based profoundly on its dedication to supporting a flourishing Austin community. Thinkery now provides 40,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor activities for children and families to learn through play.

Thinkery follows a different arrangement for the different subjects like technology and management and through a hands on experience of different programs it encourages emotional, physical and cognitive development. 

Thinkery continues to be an interactive and learning methodology that inspires learners indifferent of ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, gender, race.

8. Austin Museum of Contemporary art at Laguna Gloria

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By: Barbara Budish/flickr
  • Location: Laguna Gloria was the original home of the Austin Museum of Art situated in North Austin on the eastern shores of Lake Austin. But today, it functions as a museum, botanical garden, and art class in Austin, Tx. 
  • Time to stop by Wednesday- 9 AM to 3 PM
  • Thursday- 9 AM to 9 PM
  • Friday-Sunday: 9 AM to 3 PM
  • Ticket: The ticket price for adults is $10, and for seniors and students, it is $5.However, Thursday is free.

About:

This branch of AMOA, housed in a Mediterranean-style villa built in 1916 and surrounded by lush gardens, features art by various 20th-century artists from Austin and around the world. Works by Robert Rauschenberg, Chuck Close, and Ed Ruscha are among the permanent collections.

Far from the bustle of the city this museum is located five miles from downtown. The art exhibited in this museum is contemporary by nature but there are works which bring to life the little hamlets with their crisscross path.

Then there is the Art School at Contemporary, which offers students useful insights into the creative half of individuals, it also enhances their visual awareness. 

The presence of modernism in Texas art (traditionally a stronghold of realism), Dr. Seuss’ painting, and photographs of Annie Leibovitz’s have all been included in past exhibitions. The other part of the museum -Jones Center, is located in the city.

9. Museum of the Weird

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By: Claudia Heidelberger/flickr
  • Location: It was the Austin Museum of Art’s original home in Downtown Austin, TX.
  • Time to visit: Opens daily from 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
  • Ticket: The ticket price may cost you around 12$/person.

About: 

The museum of the weird, as its name indicates, offers a lot of strange exhibits, but in a pleasant manner. It was simple to get parking because it was on East 6th St.

This museum is also known as a dime store museum and it caters to a poorer crowd exhibiting things which are dubious by nature. Its founder was PT Barnum who in 1841 laid the foundation of a museum that would divert from typical representations of high art and culture. It was build atop a place which used to be full of old tunnels.

Their exhibition includes anything from skulls to mummies to two-headed chickens, and they only allow 30-45 minutes for the complete trip.

This museum is indeed strange, and it lives true to its moniker. It’s a jumble of weird artifacts, wax figures, and miscellaneous souvenirs (e.g., shrunken heads, bigfoot foot castings). The displays are spread across three stories in an ancient brownstone building on 6th St. Although admission is not cheap, it is important to support local artists and keep Austin unique.

10. Neill Cochran House Museum

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By: Barbara Brannon/flickr
  • Location: It is a museum in the West Campus, Austin Tx
  • Time to go:  Monday-Tuesday is closed
  • Wednesday to Sunday-11:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • Ticket: Self-guided tour may cost between 0$-8$.

About:

The Neill-Cochran House Museum is a short walk from the UT-Austin campus in the middle of Austin, Texas. We look after one of Austin’s oldest homes (1856), including the city’s sole remaining slave quarters. Through historically furnished spaces and multiple rotating art and history exhibitions, they convey the location of Austin and Texas and their history from the city’s founding in 1839 until 1930.

Although the building was built by Abner Cook, it has changed many hands. It was used as a hospital during Civil War and even a blind school years ago. In the end the building was given for rent.

The museum preserves pieces of Austin’s fleeting history whether it is the strains of the Civil war and its impact on antebellum south or the place’ s steady growth into USA’s one of the most happening cities.

The museum wants to create a community and wants people to visit it more so that they can reconnect with their history and develop a sense pride .

Know more about:5 Must-See Landmarks in Philadelphia

Parting words

Lastly, we would like to say that the museums and galleries in Austin, Tx, are operated differently from the world. Especially, the time, the ticket price and the things on view constantly change according to the footfall of visitors and the changing trends of the city. So, before you plan to stop by any best museums in Austin, make sure to check and even double-check the details very minutely, and never forget to carry your ID card along with you. 

Austin is a weird city with its exotic culture which is not exclusively American. The unofficial slogan for Austin is ‘Keep Austin Weird’ and Austin is different. The ten museums mentioned above not only fall into the category of classic or contemporary representation of art, but a few of them definitely are weird.

Austin is one of the best tourist spots of the world. As you hop around in these museums you will get to see some of the most interesting stories in paper and paint and will come out as a much knowledgeable person soaked in history.

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