Museums offer unique opportunities for people to learn about specific subjects in great detail. While it can be easy to look up information about topics online, museums allow you to physically see and interact with pieces of history and art. Plus, knowledgeable museum guides can make learning much more fun and interactive.
Fortunately, Cincinnati is packed with museums of all types including history museums, art museums, sports museums, and more. Best of all, many of these museums are free. And for the ones that aren’t, there are often ways to get free or discounted tickets.
In this post, we share the 16 best museums to check out in the Queen City.
- The American Sign Museum
- The Betts House
- The Harriet Beecher Stowe House
- The Taft Museum of Art
Map of Museums
The map below shows the locations of every museum mentioned in this post.
The Best Museums in Cincinnati
21c Museum Hotel
21c Museum Hotel is a boutique hotel, a contemporary art museum, a cultural civic centre, and a restaurant all wrapped into one. Located in the heart of Downtown Cincinnati across the street from the Aronoff Center for the Arts, 21c actively works to support the ongoing revival of the downtown area and its role as a cultural hub.
The hotel and museum features a rotating list of both solo and group exhibitions that highlight 21st century art. This museum offers a truly unique experience and offers visitors a unique look at art produced by both local emerging artists and international artists alike.
Location: 609 Walnut St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: 21c Museum hotel
American Sign Museum
The American Sign Museum is the largest public museum dedicated to signs in the United States. With over 20,000 square feet of indoor space, this museum is packed with all types of signs that are fun to explore and learn about. Expect to spend at least an hour walking through the entire museum.
Price: $15 Adults, $10 Seniors, $10 Students, $10 Military, free for 12 & under (Or two free tickets with Cincinnati Library card)
Location: 1330 Monmouth Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45225
Website: American Sign Museum
The Betts House
One unique museum to check out for history buffs is The Betts House. Built in 1804, this is the oldest surviving building in Cincinnati and the oldest brick home in Ohio. The house offers exhibits that focus on Cincinnati history and historic preservation.
Price: $5 Adults, $2 Children (Or two free tickets with Cincinnati Library card)
Location: 416 Clark St, Cincinnati, OH 45203
Located across the Ohio River in Covington, KY, the Behringer-Crawford Museum is a regional history museum that celebrates the culture, heritage, arts, and history of Northern Kentucky. With exhibits that feature mammoth fossils, a restored 1892 streetcar, and interactive train displays, this museum has something to offer for the whole family. There’s also a spacious outdoor play area for kids to run around in and an impressive Holiday Toy Trains display to check out during the holiday season.
Price: $9 Adults, $8 Seniors, $5 Children
Location: 1600 Montague Road-Devou Park, Covington, KY 41011
Website: Behringer-Crawford Museum
Cincinnati Art Museum
One of the most popular museums to visit in all of Cincinnati is the Cincinnati Art Museum, which features over 67,000 pieces of individual art, both modern and historical. The museum is completely free to visit and is open Tuesday through Sunday (closed on Mondays). Because of the sheer size of the museum, it’s possible to spend an entire day walking around through the various exhibits.
Location: 953 Eden Park Dr, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Cincinnati Art Museum
Cincinnati Fire Museum
Listed on the National Historic Registry, the Cincinnati Fire Museum celebrates Cincinnati’s fire department history and allows you to experience what it was like to work in the busiest Cincinnati firehouse in 1906. The museum showcases some of the oldest firefighting equipment in existence and has several interactive exhibits that are fun for kids to explore.
Price: $8 Adults, $7 Seniors, $6 Ages 7-17, Free under 7 years old
Location: 315 W Court St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Cincinnati Fire Museum
Cincinnati Museum Center (at Union Terminal)
Another popular museum to check out in the Queen City is the Cincinnati Museum Center located at Union Terminal. The Center is home to the Cincinnati History Museum, the Children’s Museum, the Museum of Natural History & Science, the Holocaust & Humanity Center, and the OMNIMAX Theater. If you’re interested in museums of any type or you’d like to learn more about the culture and history of Cincinnati, this is the place to go.
Price: $14.50 Adults, $13.50 Seniors, $10.50 ages 3-12, $5.50 ages 1-2, free under 1 year
Location: 1301 Western Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45203
Website: Cincinnati Museum Center
Contemporary Arts Center
Founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society by three visionary local women, the Contemporary Arts Center was one of the first institutions in the United States dedicated to exhibiting contemporary art. Today the Contemporary Arts Center is a non-collecting museum that focuses on new developments in sculpture, painting, photography, drawings, architecture, performance art and media.
Location: 44 E 6th St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Contemporary Arts Center
Greater Cincinnati Police Museum
The Greater Cincinnati Police Museum is a unique museum that showcases historical artifacts and documents of more than one hundred local, township, county, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in the Greater Cincinnati area. The tour guides are particularly knowledgeable about the artifacts in the museum, so anyone interested in the history of law enforcement in Greater Cincinnati is sure to learn a great deal at this museum.
Price: $8 Adults, $7 Seniors, $6 Ages 7-17, Free under 7 years old
Location: 308 Reading Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Greater Cincinnati Police Museum
Harriet Beecher Stowe House
One unique house museum in Cincinnati is the Harriet Beecher Stowe House, which was home to influential antislavery author Harriet Beecher Stowe who was most well known for writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The house is also a recognized site on the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
Price: $6 Adults, $5 Seniors & Students, $3 Ages 6-17, Free under 6 years old (Or two free tickets with Cincinnati Library card)
Location: 2950 Gilbert Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45206
Website: Harriet Beecher Stowe House
Lucky Cat Museum
One of the most unique museums that you can visit in all of Cincinnati is the Lucky Cat Museum, which is home to over 2,000 waving Lucky Cat dolls that you frequently see welcoming customers at the entrance of Asian restaurants. Rows upon rows of these dolls line shelves, walls, and glass cases in the museum. It’s truly a unique and quirky place to check out.
Price: Donations only
Location: 2511 Essex Pl, Cincinnati, OH 45206
Website: Lucky Cat Museum
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Center is a history museum located at The Banks that offers a variety of exhibits focused on the Underground Railroad. They offer a rotating list of exhibits, so be sure to check out their site to see which exhibits they currently have on display.
Price: $15 Adults, $13 Seniors, $10.50 Ages 3-12, Free under 3 years old
Location: 50 E Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Located across the Ohio River in Covington, KY, the Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati is an entirely volunteer-run museum that features an incredible collection of authentic trains and railroad equipment. For anyone interested in the history of railroads or trains, this is a must-visit spot.
Price: $4 Adults, $2 ages 10 and under (cash only)
Location: 323 W Southern Ave, Covington, KY 41015
Website: Railway Museum of Greater Cincinnati
Reds Hall of Fame & Museum
For baseball lovers, there’s one museum you can’t pass up in the Queen City: The Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame & Museum. Located right next to Great American Ball Park, this hall of fame and museum features an impressive collection of historical Reds memorabilia and artifacts. You can check out the various exhibits they offer here.
Price: $12 Adults, $8 Seniors & Students, Free for Military & ages 12 and under
Location: 443 E W Pete Rose Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Reds Hall of Fame & Museum
Taft Museum of Art
Another excellent art museum to check out in Cincinnati is the Taft Museum of Art, one of the finest small art museums in the country. Originally opened in 1932, the museum is home to an impressive collection of art that includes European and American paintings, Chinese porcelains, and ivory sculptures. The museum also has an outdoor garden, free on-site parking, and a museum shop and cafe.
Price: $9.99 Adults, $7.99 Seniors, Free for ages 18 and under (Or two free tickets with Cincinnati Library card)
Location: 316 Pike St, Cincinnati, OH 45202
Website: Taft Museum of Art
Vent Haven Museum
Located in Fort Mitchell, KY, The Vent Haven Museum is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to ventriloquism. With an amazing collection of vintage to modern ventriloquist performance figures, photographs, props and posters, this museum is perfect for anyone remotely interested in the art of ventriloquism.
Price: Suggested $10 donation per person
Location: 33 W Maple Ave, Fort Mitchell, KY 41011
Website: Vent Haven Museum