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The Most Visited Museums In North America

The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. is North America's most visited museum.

The continent of North America is home to some of the largest and most visited museums in the world. The United States has many world-renown museums visited by thousands of tourists each year. Mexico and Canada also have well-known museums. These museums attract both domestic and international visitors, and feature diverse forms of artwork and artifacts.

10. Houston Museum of Natural Science

The Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) is the 10th most visited museum in North America. Located near Hermann Park in Houston, Texas, the museum was founded in 1909. Notable permanent exhibitions of the museum include the Foucault pendulum, which demonstrates Earth's rotation, the Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault, which showcases fine gems and jewelry, and the Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, which exhibit's the state’s wild animals and plants. The Houston Museum of Natural Science also has exhibits related to paleontology, ancient Egypt, and African wildlife.

9. National Museum of Anthropology

The National Museum of Anthropology is one of the few most visited museums in North America that is not located in the United States. The museum is located in Mexico City, Mexico, where it is the country’s largest and most visited museum. Exhibits in the museum include significant anthropological and archaeological artifacts related to the region’s pre-Columbian history. Notable exhibits include the Aztec Xochipilli statue and the Aztec calendar stone.

8. National Museum of African American History and Culture

The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHS) is a Smithsonian Institution museum that was founded in 2003 and became open to the public in 2016. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., it is the eighth most visited museum in North America. The museum is dedicated to African American history and culture, and includes more than 40,000 objects, although only about 3,500 of pieces of the collection are on display.

7. Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art, also referred to as the MoMA, is located on 53rd Street in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The museum is dedicated to modernist art and is considered to be one of the world’s largest and most influential museums of its kind. The MoMA offers an in-depth view of contemporary and modern art, and features exhibits that include paintings, photography, prints, electronic media, design, and architecture from all over the world.

6. National Museum of American History

The National Museum of American History is North America’s sixth most visited museum. The museum, which features the rich heritage of the United States, includes exhibits related to the country's social, political, military, cultural, and scientific history. One of the most notable exhibits at the museum is the Star-Spangled Banner. The National Museum of American History is located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

5. American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is located in Theodore Roosevelt Park, New York City. The museum encompasses an area of more than 2 million square feet and includes 28 interconnected buildings. The complex features 45 permanent exhibition halls, as well as a library and a planetarium. More than 33 million specimens are on exhibit at the museum, which includes animals, plants, fossils, rocks, and cultural artifacts.

4. National Gallery of Art

The National Gallery of Art is an art museum located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Although privately established in 1937 by American industrialist, banker and philanthropist Andrew W. Mellon, the museum is open to the public and admission is free. Mellon donated funding and a substantial art collection to the museum, which grew due to numerous other donations. Exhibits at the museum include paintings, photographs, sculpture, medals, and prints that trace the evolution of Western Art since the Middle Ages. The gallery also features the only piece of art by Leonardo da Vinci in the Americas.

3. National Museum of Natural History

Administered by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of Natural History is the third most visited museum in North America, and the world’s most visited natural history museum. Located on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum remains open 364 days each year and admission is free. The National Museum of Natural History was established in 1910, the museum’s main building now covers an area of 140,000 m2. The museum's collections include more than 126 million specimens of plants, animals, human cultural artifacts, fossils, and rocks. Additionally, the museum also employs a significant number of natural history scientists.

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is the biggest art museum in the United States and includes three locations in New York City. More than 2 million works of art are displayed in its permanent exhibitions, which are divided among 17 curatorial departments. The main building of the museum is located near Central Park, where it houses one of the world’s biggest art galleries in terms of area. The collection of works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art ranges from ancient Egyptian paintings to modern American art, and features notable artwork and artifacts from all continents of the world.

1. National Air and Space Museum

Located in Washington, D.C., the National Air and Space Museum is North America’s most visited museum. The museum, which is also the fifth most visited museum in the world, is a research centre that focuses on the history and evolution of aviation and spaceflight, as well as related fields such as geophysics and planetary sciences. The museum features both original or original backup aircraft and spacecraft. Some of the most notable exhibits include the Apollo 11 command module, the rocket engine-powered Bell X-1, and the Spirit of St. Louis.

List of the 20 Most Visited Museums in North America

RankMuseumLocationAnnual Visitors
1National Air and Space Museum Washington, D.C. (US)7,000,000
2Metropolitan Museum of Art New York City (US)6,692,909
3National Museum of Natural History Washington, D.C. (US)6,000,000
4National Gallery of Art Washington, D.C. (US)5,232,277
5American Museum of Natural History New York City (US)5,000,000
6National Museum of American History Washington, D.C. (US)3,800,000
7Museum of Modern Art New York City (US)2,752,719
8National Museum of African American History and Culture Washington, D.C. (US)2,400,000
9National Museum of Anthropology Mexico City (Mexico)2,336,115
10Houston Museum of Natural Science Houston (US)2,295,000
11National Museum of History Mexico City (Mexico)2,135,465
12California Science Center Los Angeles (US)2,106,000
13Denver Museum of Nature and Science Denver (US)1,800,000
14Field Museum of Natural History Chicago (US)1,800,000
15United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Washington, D.C. (US)1,700,000
16Art Institute of Chicago Chicago (US)1,619,316
17Udvar-Hazy Center Washington, D.C. (US)1,600,000
18Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Cape Canaveral (US)1,504,201
19Getty Center Los Angeles (US)1,451,801
20Royal Ontario Museum Toronto (Canada)1,389,696

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