Types of Museums: Beyond Art and Natural History

Leisure Pursuits

Museums are among the top destinations for daytrips.. For most people this means a trip to an art museum or a history museum – but there are so many more! Across the country, museums covering a wide variety of subjects are waiting to be discovered and enjoyed by those willing to spend a day off the beaten path.

Toy Museums

Though it may sound like they’re focused on entertaining children, toy museums display a variety of concepts surrounding toys. Some of museums regard general toy history, while others display a specific type of toy development. There are even museums that cover very specific types of toys, like dolls or toy trains.

Prison Museums

Looking for something a little less…childish? Prison museums have fascinated visitors for years. All across America there are museums that detail the experience and evolution of prisons from America’s history. While some are in modern buildings, many are actual prisons no longer in use.

Architecture Museums

Americans have been building since we founded this great nation. Thankfully there are museums that have tracked our progression from then to now. Materials, building designs, and innovations are among the many topics displayed at these museums across the country.

Circus Museums14596776_m

There have been hundreds of circuses through the years, in all different sizes and flavors. Several museums specialize in the evolution of the American circus, the types of circuses that have thrived or failed, and some even specialize in a particular brand. For those with a big top fascination, these museums are a special treat.


While not everyone likes to find bugs in their home, many remain fascinated by the thousands of types of insects that exist in the world. For those people there are insectariums, museums that specialize in everything bug-related. With several museums across the country, this fringe topic is particularly popular year-round.

Literary Museums

Hands down this is the most flourishing type of museum on the list. Literary museums vary from focus on a particular author, a particular genre, or the general history of literature. If you love books – even one book – then there is a literary museum out there for you.

See a museum you’d like to visit? Check out AARP’s Member Benefits page, type in your city, and find a museum near you. Have fun!