Best science museums in the United States

science museums in the united states

Science is fascinating. However, this truth can often go missing in classrooms amid rules, textbooks, homework, and equations. Thankfully there is inspiration in every corner of the country in the form of America’s science museums.

They are fun, informative, and interactive, taking scientific principles of the page and projecting them into engaging exhibitions which children and adults can enjoy.

A family day out in a science museum can be just as much fun as a day at a theme park or a national park, and it may even spark an interest which inspires a future engineer, astronaut or physicist.

If you have an upcoming public holiday and are looking to plan a day trip, here are some of the best science museums in the USA.

Museum of Science, Boston

The highly-stimulating vast collection of over 700 permanent interactive exhibits makes it one of the most popular science museums in the US. There is a 4D theatre, an IMAX cinema where films are projected onto a five-storey screen, and for thrill-seekers there is the Thrill Ride 360°, where you are spun in every direction. It is supplemented by a constantly revolving agenda of temporary exhibits which explore an array of scientific themes from space to farming.

For younger children there is the Discovery Center, where they can conduct experiments in the geology field station using mini-sized tools. There is a Hall of Human Life, where you can see baby chicks hatch, as well as the Dinosaur Dig. The butterfly garden and planetarium appeal to visitors of all ages.

Center of Science and Industry (COSI), Columbus

One of America’s best science museums for families. This remarkable exhibition provides an interactive, stimulating experience for young kids, teenagers and adults. All of the exhibits in the 300-plus collection are meant to be touched. For Kindergarten toddlers, there is the Little Kidscape where they can play in the farmers’ market, barn, and tree house.

Older kids can explore a submarine, attempt to maneuver over Mars’ surface, and try to create electricity. There are daily shows and a planetarium which everyone can enjoy. The facilities are fantastic and it is even possible to leave younger children in the safe hands of the museum’s staff while they play.

Exploratorium, San Francisco

One of the best science museums for adults and children. Defining itself as a “public learning laboratory exploring the world through science, art, and human perception”, the museum demonstrates hundreds of scientific principles through numerous, highly-engaging mediums. A hands-on experience full of gadgets and interactive displays where visitors are invited to move stuff around, fulfill their curiosities, and just see what happens.

The exhibition succeeds in transforming science into a context which appeals to children and adults. Some of the highlights include the tactile Dome, which visitors must explore in the dark using their sense of touch, and the Distorted Room, characterized by optical illusions and shifting perspectives.

National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC

Set within the Smithsonian Institution, the popular museum explores astronomy and the history of aviation and space exploration. There is a collection of historic planes on display including the 1903 Wright Flyer as well as space objects such as a lunar rock which visitors can touch. The collection also includes engines,equipment, spacesuits, uniforms, artwork, models and much more.

There is also an observatory with telescopes, a planetarium, an IMAX theater, live demonstrations, storytelling and 3D simulators. It is the most visited museum in the Smithsonian Institution and one of the best science museums in the United States. It will inspire anyone interested in aircraft and space exploration.

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

Set in a beautiful Romanesque building, the museum contains a wide range of scientific items which take through some of the most important chapters in human history, demonstrating the link between technology and industry. You can explore a German U505 submarine, learn about the coming of the railway, descend a coalmine, and watch films on the huge cinema screen.

The museum also explores the present and future, exhibiting some of the most cutting-edge examples of robotics from around the world and giving an insight into the future of energy. You can meander your way through the mirror maze, and for younger kids there is Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle. Offering fun for all the family, it is truly one of the top science museums in the US.

Michigan Science Center, Detroit

Both fun and educational, the center is one of the best science museums in America. There are over 250 interactive exhibits, scheduled live demonstrations, and a planetarium.

The permanent exhibitions include one of engineering, where visitors can walk along the 80-foot Mini Mac Bridge and work at the US Steel Fun factory. There is a section on health and wellness where you can discover the importance of nutrition and fitness. You can marvel at the wonders of the universe in the space exhibition and children between 2 -5 can play and learn in their Kids Town.