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The Most Interactive Museums in the United States

dinoc November 7, 2019

There are many different types of museums, each with its own educational benefits and exhibit style. Some museums discourage visitors from touching and playing with their art and artifacts, but others take a more hands-on approach. Below are some of the most interactive museums in the United States, each featuring immersive exhibits and unforgettable experiences.

Museum of Science and Industry – Chicago, IL

One of the largest science museums in the world, the Museum of Science and Industry is a hub of technology and innovation. This museum’s immersive exhibits invite guests to try their hand at a variety of scientific pursuits. At the Science Storms exhibit, you can create whirlwind tornadoes, tsunamis, and avalanches. The Whispering Gallery allows you to hold whispered conversations with your friends while standing at opposite ends of the room. This museum is also home to a large dome theater and a baby chick hatchery. To purchase Museum of Science and Industry tickets and experience everything this museum has to offer, click here.

Exploratorium – San Francisco, CA

Easily one of the most interactive museums in the United States, the Exploratorium encourages visitors to delve deeper into life’s intricacies. Nearly every exhibit at the Exploratorium requires guest participation, and it’ll be hard to keep your hands off the enticing exhibits. At the Animation Station, you can try your hand at creating a stop-motion video, or you can trace your excitement at the Emotion Tracer exhibit. Some exhibits, such as the Everyone is You and Me exhibit, even require a partner—here, you can use light and mirrors to merge the reflections of your and your partner’s faces into one.

Meow Wolf – Santa Fe, NM

Many art museums adhere to a “look, but don’t touch” policy, but Meow Wolf encourages you to get up close and personal with every sculpture, painting, and animation. Formed in 2008 by a local artist collective, Meow Wolf has since evolved into a massive, completely immersive art installation. The museum’s first permanent installation, House of Eternal Return, features a life-size, interactive Victorian-style house. Stepping through the refrigerator or crawling into the fireplace, visitors will step into a surreal world filled with fantastical foliage and mystical mysteries. Meow Wolf’s Anomaly Tracker app helps guest track down clues and uncover the exhibit’s secrets.

New York Hall of Science – New York City, NY

You’ll never be bored at the New York Hall of Science, which features over 450 exhibits, events, and workshops. The exhibits at this museum are designed for children and adults of all ages, and they encourage all visitors to dive headfirst into science. Connected Worlds fuses video animation with physical interaction, enabling visitors to truly become a part of six different animated environments. Design Lab allows visitors to tap into their creative sides and build their own inventions, while Wild Minds lets guests become one with animals as they try to decipher the meaning behind dog barks and compete with a chimpanzee in a spatial memory test.

National Museum of Mathematics – New York City, NY

Numbers and equations jump off the page at the National Museum of Mathematics. This interactive museum provides real-world applications for common mathematic theories, encouraging children and adults to get excited about the marvelous world of math. Exhibits such as Polypaint, Pattern Pants, and Pattern Mesh teach about the intricate and beautiful concept of symmetry. Other exhibits, such as Hoop Curves and Motionscape, explore the presence of math in everyday activities, such as playing a game of basketball or even just walking down the street.

Museum of Pop Culture – Seattle, WA

The Museum of Pop Culture, or MoPOP to locals, pays tribute to important moments in pop culture history, from music to movies and everything in between. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame houses artifacts from fan-favorite films, such as Indiana Jones’ whip and leather jacket and Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber. The Prince from Minneapolis exhibit pays homage to the famous singer and displays iconic pieces from his dazzling wardrobe. At the Sound Lab, you have the opportunity to make the music greats proud by crafting your own funky tunes with a mixture of electric guitars, drums, samplers, and mixing consoles. MoPOP even offers sensory-friendly events that feature exhibits with lower volume and dimmer lights so that everyone can enjoy the immersive exhibits.

City Museum – St. Louis, MO

Constructed largely from repurposed industrial objects, the City Museum features works by artists around the country. Every floor of this expansive museum is filled to the brim with dazzling art and unique experiences just waiting to be discovered. Installations on the first floor invite you to travel through the mouth of a whale, crawl deep into the pits of a cave, and brave the branches of a treehouse maze. The adventures only continue as you climb higher and higher, with the second floor housing a wondrous aquarium and the third floor featuring a skate-less skate park, a pinball arcade, and a circus. In addition to providing stunning views of the St. Louis skyline, the museum rooftop regularly hosts live music events and even houses a Ferris wheel.

Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, VA

Open-air museums are the perfect places to step back in time and experience history on a more personal level. At Colonial Williamsburg, you can experience the United States just as the founding fathers once did. Comprised of over 50 historical buildings and sites, this museum features immersive demonstrations by tradesmen and historical reenactors. Don your doublets as you partake in a presentation at the local blacksmith or apothecary, and prepare for a night on the town at the tailor and wigmaker. Colonial Williamsburg regularly hosts seasonal events such as the Haunting on Dog Street event, which is complete with carriage rides, ghost tours, and trick-or-treating, just in time for Halloween.

Children’s Museum of Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN

The largest children’s museum in the world, the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis is also one of the most interactive. This museum may have been designed with children in mind, but adults will get a kick out of the immersive exhibits as well. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis features exhibits in a wide array of subject areas, including science, history, pop culture, and agriculture. In Treasures of the Earth, you can uncover the history and mystery buried deep within an Egyptian tomb or Captain Kidd’s shipwreck, and you can try your hand at driving a tractor or creating a weather forecast at ScienceWorks. You can even take a ride on an indoor carousel or take in an imaginative and humorous show at the Lilly Theater.

The Most Interactive Museums in the United States infographic