If you visit Raleigh, you can’t get far without visiting one of its 18 museums. This unique fame is the origin of Raleigh’s nickname, “Smithsonian of the South”.
Raleigh’s museums are of high quality and cater to a variety of interests. From science and history to a children’s museum, there’s something for everyone here!
Wondering which are the best museums in Raleigh to visit? Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about museums before planning your trip.
Free Museums in Raleigh, North Carolina
Going to museums allows you to better understand the cultures and stories of people and places around the world. You can learn and experience many topics when you visit different types of museums.
One of the perks of visiting Raleigh’s museums is that many of them are free! From historical museums to science museums, there are many types of free museums to see in this city.
Raleigh City Museum (COR)
Learn all about North Carolina’s state capital at this informative museum. Here you’ll find artifacts, kiosks, and information about Raleigh’s fascinating history.
The museum focuses on the city’s past, present and future. Visit a suffragist exhibit, learn local history, and more when you stop.
Visit this museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. On Sundays, the museum is open from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to this museum is free.
North Carolina Museum of Natural Science
A visit to Raleigh wouldn’t be complete without a stop at this family-friendly museum. With its giant building-sized globe adorning the facade, this museum is hard to miss.
You can explore two collections when you visit this museum: the Center for Nature Exploration and the Center for Nature Research. Each center has its specificities.
If you enjoy learning about fossils, wildlife, and geology, you’ll love the Nature Exploration Center. If you’re a prehistory buff, visit the only dinosaur museum in Raleigh, NC!
Do you have a budding scientist or do you like to see science in action yourself? Head to the Nature Research Center to see live scientists at work.
It is not only exhibitions that this museum offers. You can take tours, see a 3D movie and participate in other events organized here. If you have a child who lives in the area, this museum even offers a summer camp program for days of summer fun!
If you want to visit this museum, plan to visit it from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday to Sunday. Admission to this museum is free.
North Carolina Art Museum
Come see art spanning 5,000 years at this comprehensive art museum. This North Carolina museum purchased its first 139 paintings in 1952. Since then, this museum has only continued to grow.
It now houses hundreds of paintings, sculptures and other works of art to view. As you walk through the halls of this museum, you will see many different styles of art represented.
This museum allows each of its guests to have a truly unique experience during their visit. It is the ideal place to quietly enjoy works of art. If you’re looking for something more interactive, join a guided tour or take part in one of the many workshops.
Stroll through the 164-acre museum grounds and admire the many art installations. Find a cozy picnic spot, admire the many flowers, or hike the trails in this park. If you’re feeling adventurous, print out the scavenger hunt before you go and see how many items you can find!
Visit this museum from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. If you’re looking to get to the museum grounds, be sure to plan your trip between dawn and dusk. You can visit the North Carolina Museum of Art for free.
Museum of Contemporary Art (CAM)
In this museum, you will find bold and untraditional works of art, all created by living artists. The art of this museum comes in many media. Education and culture are at the forefront of everything CAM does.
In addition to seeing the art at CAM, you can take part in many different classes offered here. Try creating your own art or listen to one of the musical events they put on. This museum even offers yoga classes among the works of art.
You can plan your visit to this museum from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. from Saturday to Sunday. Although you can visit the museum for free, yoga classes are $15 each.
North Carolina History Museum
The North Carolina History Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in historical events.
If you’re a sports fan, you can learn more about North Carolina’s rich sports history here. Immerse yourself in the life of the pirate Blackbeard and discover his crew on the Queen Anne’s Revenge.
You can go back in time and visit a pharmacy from the 1920s and see how it worked. There are even two complete historic homes you can explore here!
This museum offers events that people of all ages can participate in. Families can purchase art crafts to make and take to the museum. Historians offer lectures, courses and programs to share their historical knowledge with others.
The North Carolina History Museum is easy to locate as it is right in the center of Raleigh. You can visit from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. This is another museum that you can visit for free.
Pope’s House Museum
If you’re looking to step back in time, a visit to the Pope House Museum should be on your list.
This house, built in 1901, housed Raleigh’s only African-American man to run for mayor, Dr. Manassas Thomas Pope. He ran for the job during the Jim Crow era. This house is unique, as it is one of the only African American house museums in the entire state of North Carolina.
Discover the artifacts the Pope family used during their stay in this house. See firsthand the registration card Dr. Pope had and the bag he used when he was a doctor. For a more in-depth experience, plan to join one of the museum’s guided tours.
This museum is open Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission to this museum is free.
Gregg Museum of Art and Design
This museum is on a college campus! This school’s art museum has the largest collection of artifacts and art in the state. You can see more than 40,000 artifacts and works of art on the North Carolina State Campus.
Besides seeing the artworks and sculptures, you can also participate in other activities. Join artists in film screenings, artist residencies, tours and more.
The Gregg Museum of Art and Design is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. This is another museum to visit for free.
Children’s Museums in Raleigh, NC
Kids of all ages can get in on the museum action in Raleigh! Some other museums offer programs in which children can participate. If you are looking for a museum entirely dedicated to children, you will find only one.
Children’s Marble Museum
Are you looking for a museum that the little ones in your life will love? Plan a visit to the Marbles Kids Museum in Raleigh!
You won’t get bored visiting this museum! Find out how people live and work in the child-sized community. Learn how money works in the Moneypalooza exhibit and watch the plants grow in the Seedlings exhibit.
It’s not just interactive exhibits that this museum has to offer. Catch a movie at the IMAX theater or have fun at one of the museum’s many events. Marbles also offers summer and school vacation camps and even camp-ins!
For the general public, you can visit Marbles from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. On Thursday evenings, this museum stays open until 7 p.m. Admission is nine dollars per person.
Plan your visit to the museum today!
Visiting Raleigh’s museums can allow you to learn and experience the world in new and extraordinary ways. There is no better place to explore museums than the high quality ones found in this city!