There’s a reason our city is one of the best for museum tourists and locals alike. Whether you can get lost in a history museum for hours or prefer to spend the afternoon taking a guided tour of an art museum, you’ll be bombarded with talent, information and entertainment in the best museums in Philadelphia.

As exhibits constantly change and new works appear, every visit to a Philadelphia museum is almost like a whole new experience. So plan a date night or gather some friends who want to explore the city and check out the coolest and most exciting museum exhibits in Philadelphia right now, before they’re gone for good.

From Indigenous practices to the motorcycle gangs of the 1960s, humans have inked their bodies for thousands of years. This exhibit focuses on the past 150 years of American tattooing through the lens of influential tattoo artist Amund Dietzel, a Norwegian immigrant who went on to become one of the most important tattoo artists of the early 20th century.
Appointment: Now until May 1
How to visit: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Walk-in admission is available.

We all know Rube Goldberg’s illustrations: delightfully complicated, wacky contraptions that accomplish a simple task. See these inventions come to life with this interactive exhibit at the Please Touch Museum. Kids can move balls and pull strings to set off chain reactions and examine how each device works or draw their own cartoon in the art studio, and adults can get in on the action too.
Appointment: Now until May 8
How to visit: The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Advance tickets are required.

PAFA Academy of Fine Arts of Pennsylvania
PAFA Academy of Fine Arts of Pennsylvania

For more than a century, art students at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts have exhibited their works to the public in the school’s museum galleries. This year, third- and fourth-year undergraduates and second-year graduate students will display (and sell) their finest paintings, illustrations, and drawings to adoring viewers.
Appointment: May 13 to June 5
How to visit: The galleries are open from Thursday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

The Barnes Foundation
The Barnes Foundation

Philadelphia art collector Albert Barnes established the Barnes Foundation in 1922 and it is filled with an impressive assortment of Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, and Modern paintings. The latest museum exhibition Water, Wind, Breath: Southwestern Native Art in the Community highlights historic pottery, textiles and jewelry made by the Pueblo and Diné peoples that Barnes collected in Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico in the 1930s. The pieces are featured alongside works by contemporary Aboriginal artists to show the parallels between past and present.
Appointment: Now until May 15
How to visit: The museum is open from Thursday to Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Clothing is much more than functional fabrics for our body. They tell a story of time, place and identity. Through 250 garments and accessories spanning 2,500 years, The stories we carry connects history, culture, identity and adornment. See the satin robes worn by Chinese opera performers in the 19th century, the crowns worn by Buddhist priests in the 16th century, and more.
Appointment: Now until June 12
How to visit: The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

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Philadelphia Museum of Art

The Philadelphia Museum of Art houses the world’s largest collection of works by Marcel Duchamp, a 17th-century Chinese reception room, and the second-largest collection of arms and armor in the United States, but this exhibit focuses on works created between 1900 and 2000. Elegy: Complaint in the Twentieth Century features pieces by artists like Charles White and Juan Soriano, exploring how we deal with tragedy and grief, and commemorating those who have passed away.
Appointment: Now until July 24
How to visit: The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.
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The Academy of Natural Sciences
The Academy of Natural Sciences

It’s hard to believe, but there are still deep-sea creatures that scientists didn’t know existed until fairly recently. The latest exhibit from the Academy of Natural Sciences showcases all the awes and delights of the ocean depths, teaching visitors how life sustains itself so far from sunlight and real specimens from below. Other features include a model set of the Titanic and a robotic arm from a replica of the submersible that Alvin’s guests can use to scoop up lava rocks and clams.
Appointment: Now until July 24
How to visit: The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

National Museum of Liberty
National Liberty Museum

Artist and director of the Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania, Johnny Irizarry explores the idea of ​​”la brega” which loosely translates to “the struggle”. The exhibition features mixed media works addressing issues such as colonization and its legacies and the disproportionate impact of climate change and gun violence.
Appointment: Now until August 15
How to visit: The museum is open from Thursday to Monday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

The African American Museum of Philadelphia
The African American Museum of Philadelphia

New York artist Derrick Adams was inspired by The Negro Motorist’s Green Book, the Jim Crow-era guide that identified safe places for African Americans to eat and sleep while traveling. This exhibition of 50 works of collages, assemblages on wood panels and mixed-media sculptures presented reinvents safe destinations for the black American traveler in the middle of the 20th century.
Appointment: Now until August 28
How to visit: The museum is open from Friday to Sunday. Advance tickets are required.

In a museum devoted solely to colonial events during the American Revolution, you can expect to see tons of artifacts from the era of British rule, from weapons used in the war to clothing from the era. However, in this temporary exhibit, visitors can truly imagine what the Revolutionary War was like through meticulously researched paintings of the 1775 Battle of Bunker Hill, General Washington’s 1776 attack on Trenton, and more. .
Appointment: Now until September 5
How to visit: The museum is open daily. Advanced tickets are recommended.

The Franklin Institute
The Franklin Institute

Wizards and Muggles alike are invited to explore the immersive Harry Potter exhibit, making its world premiere here in Philadelphia at the Franklin Institute. With replicas of key Hogwarts scenes and rooms, like the Grand Staircase, you’ll find it hard to believe you’re still in Philadelphia. Plus, original costumes and props from both Harry Potter and fantastic beasts franchises will be exposed.
Appointment: Now until September 18
How to visit: The museum is open daily. Advanced tickets are recommended.

The Eastern State may be known for its legendary Halloween programming and excellent audio tours (hosted by Steve Buscemi) through the historic cell blocks, but the historic space’s art installations are also worth a visit. detour. The plays examine the realities and injustices of mass incarceration. Their latest, a sound installation by Mark Menjivar, features the music David Lee Powell created while incarcerated on death row.
Appointment: From May 6 to December 31
How to visit: The penitentiary is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia
Mütter Museum of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia

Strangely topical, the last special exhibition of the Mütter, Spit spreads death, an exhibit about the 1918 flu pandemic, opened in fall 2019, less than six months before the coronavirus pandemic began. The exhibit traces the spread of the disease in Philadelphia neighborhoods a century ago and the impact of the pandemic on the city with artifacts such as photos, newspaper clippings, and more.
Appointment: Now until 2024
How to visit: The museum is open from Wednesday to Monday. Advance tickets are required.

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

This noble document known as the Constitution and its values, interpretations and amendments are explored in detail at the National Constitution Center, naturally. This semi-permanent exhibit examines the 19th Amendment – ​​the one that granted women the right to vote – and the journey towards its ratification. Of the nearly 100 artifacts, expect to see a rare impression of the Declaration of feelings from the first women’s convention in Seneca Falls, a ballot box used to collect women’s votes in the late 1800s, Pennsylvania’s ratification copy of the 19th Amendment, and various “Votes for Women” ephemera.
Appointment: Semi-permanent, no end date announced
How to visit: The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday. Advanced tickets are recommended.

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Allie Volpe is a Philadelphia-based writer. She hasn’t slept for days. Follow her on Twitter: @allieevolpe.

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