While walking about Columbus Ohio is fun, some of the best activities can be found at the many museums that are dispersed across the city. No matter what your interests are, science, art, history, sports, or nostalgia there is a museum you should visit. Columbus Ohio museums are always changing. The majority of the museums provide interesting, year-round traveling exhibitions, along with distinctive permanent displays. 

With virtual reality and Instagram-worthy displays, several of Columbus’ most recent museums highlight the city’s pop culture side, making them convenient pit stops on multi-day excursions. Some museums even feature meals on-site or close by that go well with the exhibits.

See our list of the top museums in Columbus Ohio for details on each museum’s features and suggestions for things to do.

#1. Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Garden

best museums in columbus ohio
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A botanical landmark two miles east of Columbus, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens has outdoor gardens (including community and culinary gardens), seasonal displays, exotic plant collections, and exhibits, as well as a variety of educational programs. Within the 88-acre Franklin Park, they are all situated. The Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens enhance the quality of life and strengthen community bonds.

There are several yearly events and activities that are open to participants of all ages. There is a lot of horticultural, culinary, fine art, and wellness activities, classes, as well as camps available. Due to its natural surroundings both inside and out, the Conservatory is a preferred site for special events and business gatherings.

#2. Center of Science and Industry (COSI)

A well-known and well-liked museum in Columbus is the Center of Science and Industry (COSI). Along with interactive learning, it provides engaging exhibitions such as the Big Science Park and the Dinosaur Gallery at the American Museum of Natural History. Two COSI attractions, the electrostatic generator, and the High Wire Unicycle, are worth seeing.

In addition to hosting the First Night Columbus New Year’s Eve spectacle, the museum provides a setting for a number of neighborhood activities all year long. In case you or the kids are in need of a snack, check out COSI’s Atomic Café. It provides a variety of quick meals to keep you energized for more adventure.

#3. Columbus Museum of Art

The Columbus Museum of Art focuses on a variety of styles of art appreciation, such as modern art and American and European pieces from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The biggest collection of works by Columbus-born international artists Elijah Pierce, George Bellows, and Aminah Robinson is on exhibit there. Visitors can also build their own creations in the Wonder Room. A unique gallery for international contemporary painters is located in Columbus and is called The Pizzuti Collection. The atrium hosts community gatherings, and on Sundays, the museum is free to enter. So, The Schokko Café serves inventive sandwiches and entrées for lunch.

#4. Ohio History Center

Two of the most memorable trips you can take in Columbus are to Ohio History Center and Ohio Village, both of which are situated in the same complex. The Ohio History Center’s interactive displays bring Ohio’s past to life. The inventions made in the Buckeye State are fascinating facts about the pop culture scene. An outdoor living history museum, Ohio Community, transports you to a community in Ohio in the late 1800s.

In addition, dress up in period attire for a retro photo, see a blacksmith produce horseshoes, or deliver a speech on the steps of Town Hall using vocabulary from the middle of the 19th century in your script.

Read Also: FAMILY WEEKEND TRIPS IN OHIO: Best 18 Family Getaways

#5. National Veterans Memorial Museum

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One of the newest museums in Columbus Ohio, the National Veterans Memorial and Museum, has a national designation and an innovative approach to the tourist experience. Meanwhile, the museum offers firsthand accounts from American military soldiers about life on the front lines of battle. Exhibits offer letters and images from warriors and their families over the years and incorporate multimedia experiences. The national museum, which was established to commemorate all U.S. military veterans, features both permanent and temporary exhibitions.

Visit Memorial Grove and the rooftop sanctuary to pay respects to service personnel who lost their lives in battle. The museum also holds entertaining occasions all year long, including ceremonies for veterans and USO-style dance nights on the rooftop.

#6. Thurber House

The James Thurber House is a Columbus-based literary establishment dedicated to celebrating the life and work of the cartoonist. Besides, you can explore the Thurber House’s cramped corridors to observe the workspace where the comedian mostly produced his literary masterpieces. The home’s second story is filled with artifacts from Thurber’s personal and professional life, as well as his bedroom and office. The Thurber House bedroom closet contains the signatures of Anietra Hamper.

Visit the Thurber House during an Evening with Authors event or Summer Literary Picnic Series to experience authors’ latest works. The National Register of Historic Places includes Thurber House on the list that promotes a love of reading and creativity.

#7. Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum

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An undiscovered gem in Columbus is the well-liked auto museum. The Wagner-Hagans Auto Museum is one of the most intriguing museums in Columbus Ohio, albeit the majority of people have never heard of it. Old petrol pumps, neon signs, military jeeps from the first world war, and a unique license plate collection are all on display in the galleries. Museum explores Ohio’s role in the automobile industry.

In addition to the displays, Steve Wagner, the museum’s curator, and proprietor, also tells engaging stories that help visitors connect the past to the present. Since the exhibits frequently vary, each visit is similar to the first. Numerous originals are available in the collection, and visitors can learn in-depth details about each car’s design and selection process. You must contact us to make arrangements for a visit because this museum is small.

#8. Central Ohio Fire Museum

To see how firefighting has changed through time, step inside the 1908 renovated firehouse that serves as the Central Ohio Fire Museum. The Burned Items Display, which illustrates the perils of fire through relics recovered from home fires, is one of the most fascinating exhibits. The museum aims to educate tourists about fire safety through fire safety training and an interactive 9-1-1 simulator. The museum displays the evolution of fire protection, such as old helmets, badges, and apparatus.

Compare the newer motorized fire vehicles to the earlier horse-drawn ones. A children’s play area and a gift shop featuring unusual firefighting-related things are both there.

#9. Jack Nicklaus Museum

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The Jack Nicklaus Museum is a must-see if you enjoy playing golf. The museum is devoted to Columbus native and golfing great Jack Nicklaus’ life and career. The life path of one of the most prominent and successful golfers in history will be shown with collections of golf-related artifacts. The museum’s collection totals more than 2,000 objects.

The exhibits feature Nicklaus’s personal background, offering insights into his early years as well as information about his successful professional sports career, which included more than one hundred competitive victories. The Memorial Competition Gallery is home to artifacts from this significant regional competition.

If you have additional time while visiting Columbus, you might want to combine your trip to the Jack Nicklaus Museum with a round of golf at the Muirfield Village Golf Club’s Nicklaus-designed course.

#10. Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum

On the campus of Ohio State University, the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library, and Museum has the world’s biggest collection of periodicals, archives, works of art, comics, and newspapers that are linked to comics, cartoons, and graphic novels. In addition to being a research center, this establishment serves as a museum devoted to the preservation and promotion of this genre. There are several collections of unique pieces of art, including over 200,000 unique cartoons.

Furthermore, the building’s enormous collection of 9,500 underground comic novels will appeal to comic book fans. Along with the other permanent collections and the 2.5 million comic strip newspaper clippings, there are a number of often-changing displays and events.

#11. Glass Axis

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The Glass Axis in Columbus is a must-see if you have a passion for glass art or even just a healthy dose of curiosity. This nonprofit museum also functions as a gallery and an art studio and is well-known for its classes. Walking around the galleries will teach you about the processes needed to create hot glass, fused glass, blown glass, and more. Revolving displays that highlight the numerous glass art specializations are presented by Glass Axis.

Also, if you have the time, stop by for a free public glassblowing demonstration by one of the member artists or sign up for a class to acquire the skills yourself. Throughout the year, Glass Axis conducts a variety of open events that are fantastic occasions to go to. Jewelry and home décor made of unusual glass are available in the gift store.

#12. Orton Geological Museums

Visit the Orton Geological Museum one of the best museums in Columbus Ohio if you have no idea what a Cryolophosaurus Ellioti is. On the grounds of Ohio State University stands this obscure museum. It is a study center containing more than 54,000 specimens, including fossilized dinosaur remains and earth minerals, and it focuses on geological preservation.

Even a tooth from a mastodon is on exhibit. A model of the 24-foot-long early Jurassic dinosaur fossil Cryolophosaurus Elliott is one of the museum’s most popular acquisitions. The museum is open to the public and includes a wide variety of exhibits that will pique your interest in Earth’s natural history.

#13. Ohio Craft Museum

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Ohio is home to many talented artists, and the Ohio Craft Museum features works from a range of artistic disciplines. View samples of artwork made of pottery, fiber, wood, and glass as you go around the museum. There are various permanent collections, such as ones on artistic jewelry and clay sculptures. The entire year is filled with exhibitions that highlight various artists and mediums.

Therefore, it is worthwhile if you have extra time or can schedule your visit around one of the museum’s seminars or lectures. You can develop your artistic skills in a variety of different media, such as weaving, glass, and more. For one-of-a-kind artistic items, you must stop by the Ohio Craft Museum gift store.

What is Columbus Ohio Known for?

Columbus is known for ‘discovering’ the New World, but did he ever set foot in North America? Christopher Columbus, an explorer who lived from 1451 to 1506, is renowned for his ‘discovery’ of the New World in the Americas in 1492 while sailing the Santa Maria.

Is Columbus Ohio Worth Visiting?

Discovering Columbus’ interesting and entertaining districts is one of the finest parts of traveling there. Few cities have such a variety of distinct neighborhoods so close to downtown, which makes Columbus a wonderful starting point for your trip.

Is Columbus a Good City to Live in?

Additionally, the cost of living is 12% lower than the national average, and food costs are often lower than in Cleveland. Columbus is among the best areas in the Midwest to reside, giving many individuals the choice of economical living in a desirable location.

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