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People looking at a large dinosaur skeleton.
Photograph: Supplied

The best museums in Melbourne

From the history of Indigenous Australia to our country's proud sporting past, these Melbourne museums celebrate Australia's rich background

Liv Condous
Written by
Liv Condous
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Forgotten everything you learned during those school excursions? These Melbourne museums will help you uncover stories about the people who made this city what it is today: a bustling hub of culture, coffee and sporting greats. 

While you're here, why not take a look at 25 tourist attractions that definitely don't suck or our guide to finding Melbourne's best street art

Ten museums to visit in Melbourne

  • Museums
  • Carlton

A glorious, sprawling space filled with themed displays, interactive areas, IMAX cinemas, postmodern art and gardens, Melbourne Museum rewards first-time visitors and repeat patrons equally.

Best for: spending a whole day learning about the wonders of the world (including heaps of life-size dinosaur skeletons!), plus checking out exclusive new exhibitions. 

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre
  • Museums
  • Carlton

A venue within Melbourne Museum, Bunjilaka was developed to empower Aboriginal people to interpret their own cultural heritage for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. Here you can celebrate the vibrant cultures of Indigenous Australia with exhibitions about traditional performances, storytelling rituals and artworks. 

Best for: learning about First Nations history and hearing individual's stories. Good for locals or tourists. 

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  • Museums
  • Spotswood

This interactive science and technology museum is geared towards getting children excited about science through first-hand experiences. There are guided tours, changing exhibitions, demonstrations and special activities daily. The Planetarium, with its huge domed ceiling replicating the night sky, is always a huge hit. Scienceworks also supports visitors with sensory challenges, and social scripts and maps showing high and low sensory spaces in the museum are available on its website

Best for: a family-friendly, fun-filled day out. 

National Sports Museum
  • Museums
  • Melbourne

Bradman's baggy green cap. Bart Cummings' collection of Melbourne Cups. Cathy Freeman's swift suit from her gold-medal-winning run in Sydney 2000. These items are more than mere sporting memorabilia, they are touchstones in the forging of national identity – and you can see them up close when visiting the National Sports Museum.

Best for: AFL and cricket fans! You can always do a tour of the hallowed MCG while you're there. 

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Chinese Museum
  • Museums
  • Melbourne

Located in the middle of Melbourne's Chinatown, the Chinese Museum's five floors include a visitor centre, a Dragon Gallery displaying three generations of Chinese dragons and the ‘Finding Gold’ below-ground experience.

Best for: learning about a significant part of Melbourne's multicultural community – plus, there's so much delicious Asian food nearby for after your visit. 

Immigration Museum
  • Museums
  • Melbourne

Using first-hand accounts, real-life imagery and memorabilia, the true stories of people who have migrated to Victoria are recounted in this fascinating Melbourne museum. It's housed inside a magnificently restored building that, between 1858-70, acted as Melbourne's own Customs House, gateway to the fledgling colony.

Best for: immersive, moving storytelling and inspiring exhibitions. 

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  • Museums
  • St Kilda

Using interactive displays, prized artefacts and a rich program of educational events, this museum tells the moving and inspirational tales of Melbourne and Australia's Jewish community from the earliest days of European settlement. A special chapter of the Museum dedicated to Holocaust history has survivors sharing their stories, while elsewhere you'll find respected contemporary art exhibitions and displays and celebrations of Judaism's rich calendar of festivals and holy days.

Best for: a diverse array of exhibitions, with the largest display of Jewish-Australian artefacts in the world, plus activities for kids. 

  • Museums
  • History
  • Melbourne

Although the Hellenic Museum is relatively young, Melbourne’s Greek heritage goes way back. And the artefacts on display at the beautiful Hellenic Museum go seriously waaaaay back. We’re talking Corinthian Gobulars as old as 600 BC. These incredible portals into another time can’t be seen anywhere else in Melbourne – not in permanent exhibitions anyway.  Learn about the first Greek-Australians, some of whom arrived as convicts, early settlers and gold diggers, and others who arrived during the Australian Government’s migration scheme in the '50s and '60s.

Best for: it's the only museum in the country dedicated to showcasing Greek art, history and culture.

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  • Museums
  • Melbourne

This historical building stands as a monument to the cruelty of capital punishment. The Crime & Justice Experience is the jail's permanent exhibit. Explore the gaol, experience a modern-day arrest procedure at the City Watch House, and stand in the dock of the Old Magistrate's Court.

Best for: there's a variety of tours, including some spooky evening ones. 

  • Museums
  • History
  • Elsternwick

The Elsternwick museum, formerly known as the Jewish Holocaust Centre, was founded by survivors in 1984 and serves as Australia's largest institution dedicated to Holocaust education, research and remembrance. It's a two-part museum, with one section for a younger audience and one designed as a special memorial space.

Best for: paying respect to Jewish survivors of war and hearing their stories. 

 

More ideas for Melbourne visitors

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