Top 12 Museams in Cleveland

Last Updated on February 1, 2024 by Emily Johnson

As an artistic and cultural hub on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland offers an impressive array of world-class museums. From spectacular art collections and fascinating historical exhibits to interactive science displays, the city’s vibrant museum scene educates and entertains visitors of all ages.

1Cleveland Museum of ArtFeatures over 45,000 works spanning 6,000 years.
2Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and MuseumDedicated to legendary musicians and pop culture.
3Great Lakes Science CenterInteractive STEM exhibits, aviation displays, and a theater.
4Cleveland Museum of Natural HistoryAnimal dioramas, dinosaur skeletons, and a digital planetarium.
5Cleveland History CenterFocuses on Ohio history, transportation, and cultural heritage.
6Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) ClevelandInnovative contemporary art in a modern building.
7Music Box Supper ClubCombines dining with a museum of local music memorabilia.
8Transformer Station Contemporary Art GalleryPhotographic works from the 21st century.
9Children’s Museum of ClevelandInteractive areas for children emphasizing STEM skills.
10Cleveland Print RoomFocus on photochemical photography and analogue processes.
11Maltz Museum of Jewish HeritageJewish culture, faith, and tradition with 25,000 artifacts.
12A Christmas Story HouseIconic house from the movie “A Christmas Story”.

Spanning topics like music, cars, nature, aviation and more, Cleveland museums cover a diverse range of interests certain to pique the curiosity of both locals and tourists. Many also host special events, classes and programs to continue engaging the public.

Here are 12 of top museums to check out in Cleveland:

Cleveland Museum of Art

Name and Location: The Cleveland Museum of Art is located in Cleveland’s University Circle area.

Collections and Exhibits: It houses a diverse collection, including Asian and Egyptian art, European paintings, and modern art pieces.

What to Expect: Expect a comprehensive art experience with galleries showcasing artwork from various cultures and eras. The museum frequently hosts special exhibitions and events.

Visitor Information: The museum offers free general admission. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday, and visitors are encouraged to check the website for specific hours and special exhibit pricing.

As one of the country’s most renowned art museums, the Cleveland Museum of Art houses over 45,000 priceless objects spanning 6,000 years of creativity. Spread throughout gorgeous white Georgian marble halls, the museum’s expansive collection features artifacts and works ranging from Ancient Egyptian pieces and European masterworks to contemporary photography and African tribal masks. Popular highlights include Monet’s dreamy Water Lilies painting, the armor court and Asian art wing with massive guardian lion statues. As admission is always free, it makes for an accessible world-class art date across any budget.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum

Name and Location: Located on the shores of Lake Erie in downtown Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: This museum celebrates the history and significance of rock music with exhibits featuring memorabilia, multimedia displays, and personal items from famous rock musicians.

What to Expect: Interactive exhibits, music history, and various artifacts from legendary rock and roll artists. Special exhibits often focus on specific artists or themes in rock music.

Visitor Information: Open daily with paid admission. Visitors can purchase tickets online or at the museum. Special events and educational programs are also offered.

No trip to Cleveland is complete without visiting the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame dedicated to legendary musicians who’ve shaped pop culture. Interactive exhibits let you play instruments and climb aboard tour buses while winding halls lined with memorabilia will bring back nostalgic musical memories. Permanent galleries feature one-of-a-kind items like Michael Jackson’s famous glove, John Lennon’s glasses and Prince’s iconic purple jacket. Catch films on music history in their Foster theater and see hundreds of rare artifacts belonging to inducted rock and roll greats both past and present. Special exhibits also focus on specific genres, artists or topics through the years as well.

Great Lakes Science Center

Name and Location: Situated near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in downtown Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: Features hands-on exhibits related to science, technology, and the environment, with a special emphasis on the Great Lakes region.

What to Expect: Interactive science exhibits, a NASA Glenn Visitor Center, and the Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater. Great for families and anyone interested in science and technology.

Visitor Information: Open year-round with ticketed entry. It’s recommended to check their website for current exhibits, showtimes, and special events.

At this expansive science complex right along Lake Erie, interactive STEM fun appeals to all ages. Hands-on permanent exhibit galleries feature concepts from biomechanics to space travel with aviation displays, a wind tunnel and electronic lab. Guests can design model race cars, operate rovers, view bacteria through microscopes and even walk through a giant, pulsating heart. The Science Center also includes Cleveland’s famous Steamship William G. Mather ore freighter museum and an OMNIMAX dome theater showing educational films. With constant new installations, events and programs, it easily makes for a full day immersed in science.

Cleveland Museum of Natural History

Name and Location: Located in the University Circle area, near the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Collections and Exhibits: The museum features exhibits on anthropology, paleontology, botany, geology, wildlife, and more, including a planetarium and live animal exhibits.

What to Expect: Dinosaur skeletons, wildlife exhibits, a planetarium, and interactive displays. The museum is educational and engaging for all ages.

Visitor Information: Open daily, with ticketed admission. The museum also hosts special events and educational programs.

Cleveland’s aptly named Museum of Natural History contains fascinating animal dioramas, dinosaur skeletons, minerals and fossils to foster curiosity about the outside world. Located within the expansive University Circle museum district, the Museum of Natural History houses over four million artifacts in labyrinthine historic halls with airy, glass-enclosed additions. In permit halls, get up close to taxidermic specimens like rhinos, polar bear cubs and lion prides in natural poses. The expansive dinosaur collection impresses with towering T-Rex and Triceratops skeletons, marine fossils, rare gemstones and periodic special exhibits spotlighting mummies or genomes. The museum also includes a state-of-the-art digital dome planetarium and observatory to gaze at far off galaxies.

Cleveland History Center

Name and Location: Located in the University Circle neighborhood.

Collections and Exhibits: Focuses on the history of Northeast Ohio, featuring exhibits on Cleveland’s industrial past, cultural history, and notable figures.

What to Expect: Exhibits on Cleveland’s automotive history, fashion, and local heritage. The center also houses the Euclid Beach Park Grand Carousel.

Visitor Information: The center is open to the public with paid admission. It’s recommended to check their schedule for special exhibitions and events.

This trio of venues within University Circle spotlight Ohio history, innovation and cultural heritage. The Cleveland History Center campus contains both the Cleveland History Museum and Crawford Auto Aviation Museum with the Western Reserve Historical Society just across the park green space. Cleveland History Museum traces the city’s evolution through educational exhibits ranging from Native American age to modern urban design while the Crawford Auto focuses squarely on transportation. Combine visits to all three locales for a comprehensive understanding of Cleveland’s past, melding local, regional and national narratives. Don’t miss the vintage car gallery, Ohio historical artifacts and rotating exhibits on pivotal eras like Rock and Roll.

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Cleveland

Name and Location: Situated in the University Circle area.

Collections and Exhibits: MOCA features contemporary art across a variety of media, with a focus on cutting-edge and thought-provoking artworks.

What to Expect: Innovative exhibitions of contemporary art from both established and emerging artists. The museum is known for its unique architecture and dynamic programming.

Visitor Information: MOCA offers free admission to all and is open on select days of the week. Check their website for current exhibitions and event schedules.

Dedicated entirely to innovative works by contemporary artists, MOCA lives up to its cutting-edge vision through 8,000 square feet of exhibition space in a striking black steel and glass building. Holding 6,000+ artworks within growing permanent collections, MOCA grants local access to creators defining today’s cultural landscape. Past exhibits have featured avant-garde mixed media sculpture, video installations, radical architecture photography and paintings with thought-provoking socio-political commentary. Through its dynamic docket of rotating exhibits, events and programs, MOCA gives seasoned art fans and casual visitors alike insight into redefining the modern art world.

Music Box Supper Club

Name and Location: Located in the Flats West Bank area of Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: While not a museum, it’s a venue for live music performances and dining, featuring a variety of musical genres.

What to Expect: A blend of dining and live music, with a focus on offering an intimate concert experience. The venue hosts both local and national acts.

Visitor Information: Open during show times, with ticket purchases available for performances. Dining reservations are recommended.

For an only-in-Cleveland museum experience, check out Music Box Supper Club along the Lake Erie shoreline. This entertainment venue creatively doubles as the Cleveland Music History Museum containing a mind-boggling collection of local music memorabilia. As you dine and take in a show, view signed guitars, vintage concert posters and over a million pieces spanning decades of Cleveland music memories encased in glass hallway walls. Special exhibits also showcase legends like Alan Freed or Ghoulardi with listening stations to experience the city’s musical past firsthand. By celebrating popular C-Town artists who paved the way for larger rock movements, Music Box cleverly honors the city’s impressive musical legacy.

Transformer Station Contemporary Art Gallery

Name and Location: Located in the Hingetown area of Cleveland’s West Side.

Collections and Exhibits: A contemporary art space that showcases innovative and thought-provoking art, often focusing on photography and multimedia works.

What to Expect: Contemporary art exhibitions in a unique, industrial setting. The gallery often features works by emerging artists.

Visitor Information: Free admission, open to the public during specific hours. It’s best to check their website for current exhibitions and events.

Photography aficionados can’t miss this Ohio City gallery established by the world-renowned Fred and Laura Bidwell Foundation collection. The couple’s impressive compilation of 21st century photographic works adorns white-washed Transformer Station walls exclusively for public viewing. Showcasing both American and international artists through rotating exhibitions, it pushes the bounds of traditional photography in conceptual themes like technology, commerce and environment by today’s lens. Check the schedule for related programming from lectures to hands-on workshops that accompany displayed pieces for deeper understanding of processes and inspiration behind avant-garde photography.

Children’s Museum of Cleveland

Name and Location: Located in the Midtown area of Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: Dedicated to early childhood education, the museum offers interactive exhibits designed for children, focusing on play, discovery, and learning.

What to Expect: Interactive, educational exhibits suitable for young children, including a water play area, an adventure city, and areas for imaginative play.

Visitor Information: Open daily with ticketed entry. Ideal for families with young children. Check their website for specific exhibits and events.

Especially great for visiting families, this playful museum overlooking Lake Erie offers 10 interactive areas fostering STEM skills through games and activities. Kids can let imaginations soar in art, science and literacy-based zones with engaging installations like an actual greenhouse, rock climbing wall and full makerspace. Costumed staff further fun by staying in character like fairy tale figures or superheroes. Parents appreciate the early childhood education components teaching through play-based exploration. Don’t miss special visiting exhibitions from wildlife creatures to hands-on engineering projects regularly rotated into galleries.

Cleveland Print Room

Name and Location: Situated in the Superior Arts District of Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: A photography and printmaking center that features exhibitions, workshops, and educational programs, focusing on the art of photography and print.

What to Expect: Photographic exhibitions, workshops, and opportunities to learn about photographic processes and printmaking.

Visitor Information: The space is open to the public during exhibitions and events. Workshops and classes may require pre-registration.

Tucked along Superior Avenue downtown, this intimate gallery champions 21st century works created upon one of art’s oldest mediums – photochemical photography. The Print Room focuses efforts entirely on analogue photo processes showcasing gelatin silver, cyanotype and historic printing methods through rotating exhibitions, classes and public programs. Check their calendar for nighttime gallery events aimed at millennials involving pinhole cameras, large format portraiture sessions plus film + cocktails social nights to spark hobby interest. It provides easy access and education for this fading hands-on art form – a must-see for photography buffs.

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Name and Location: Located in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland.

Collections and Exhibits: Dedicated to sharing Jewish history, culture, and traditions, the museum features exhibits on Jewish heritage, the Holocaust, and tolerance.

What to Expect: Educational exhibits that promote an understanding of Jewish history and culture, as well as broader themes of diversity and tolerance.

Visitor Information: Open to the public with ticketed admission. It’s recommended to check their website for current exhibitions, events, and educational programs.

Based in Cleveland’s Beachwood suburbs, this immersive history museum illuminates Jewish culture, faith and tradition across centuries and continents through 25,000 precious artifacts. Spanning the globe from North Africa and Europe to America, the Maltz Museum uniquely showcases Jewish heritage and collective immigrant experiences through art, archival film footage and symbolic holy objects. Hands-on activities make difficult historic lessons accessible for kids while poignant works like amulets made of Holocaust victims’ hair illustrate sobering past chapters. Don’t miss the rare ritual silver, Israeli folk art and vintage clothes highlighting diverse global textures of Jewish life. From traditional weddings to comedic theatre, special programs and events keep heritage engaging for all.

A Christmas Story House

Name and Location: Located in Cleveland’s Tremont neighborhood.

Collections and Exhibits: This is the house used in the filming of the classic movie “A Christmas Story.” It features memorabilia and exhibits related to the film.

What to Expect: A nostalgic trip through the movie’s settings and props. Visitors can tour the house and see iconic items from the film, like the leg lamp.

Visitor Information: The house is open year-round for tours, with extended hours during the holiday season. Tickets can be purchased for tours, which also include access to a museum across the street.

For seasonal holiday fun, make the pilgrimage to Cleveland’s Christmas Story House where the beloved 1983 movie was famously filmed. Decked out floor to ceiling in yuletide 1940’s decor all year long, this restored Tremont Victorian provides behind-the-scenes looks at the making of little Ralphie Parker’s mischievous quest for a Red Ryder BB gun. Visit iconic sets recreated like the Parker family dining room with the infamous leg lamp aglow plus Ralphie’s glowing Hohner he yearns for under their “major award”. Explore museum rooms showcasing costumes, props, photos and memorabilia from production then stop in their expansive gift shop so you, too can take a bit of the leg lamp magic home for the holidays.

Leave a Comment