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Exterior of the Orlando Museum of Art
Photograph: Visit OrlandoAerial shot of the exterior of the Orlando Museum of Art

The 7 best Orlando museums

Explore hallways filled with art, sculptures and interactive exhibits at these Orlando museums

Megan duBois
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Megan duBois
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When it’s time for a break from the busy theme parks in Orlando the best places for a bit of refuge are the top Orlando museums. Each of the city's museums have a distinct theme and hold treasures such as one-of-a-kind pieces of art, detailed Tiffany glass, and even the local fire department. While it might be tempting to skip over some of the smaller museums in harder to reach areas, the journey away from I-4 and the popular city attractions are worth it.

One thing that makes Orlando museums so unique is that most are in historic buildings that are as old as the city itself, or located within a city park that features spacious lawns and beautiful gardens and parks to explore as well. Some of the museums even host weekend and evening engagements where you can walk through the hallowed halls then head outside for live music and entertainment.

When you’re ready to get out of the hot Florida sun and into the sweet refuge of air conditioned entertainment head to these seven Orlando museums. Not only will you enjoy the quiet retreat away from the noise of the city, but you might also learn something about the culture in Orlando.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the best things to do in Orlando

Best Orlando museums

  • Museums
  • Lake Formosa

The Orlando Museum of Art was founded in 1924 and continues to be a must-go for locals who want to learn about the rich history of Orlando while gazing upon historical and modern pieces of art. Each year the museum presents 10-12 different exhibitions on-site and 13 exhibitions off-site, so no matter when you go there will always be something new to see. 

What’s new: The three current exhibitions at the museum include progressive artists from Florida as well as works from Belgian painter Lewis Dewis. Both of these exhibitions end August 22. 

Pro-tip: On the first Thursday of each month the museum hosts local artists and live music from 6-9pm. 

  • Things to do
  • Lake Formosa

For over 60 years the Orlando Science Center has welcomed visitors into a hands-on museum. The museum spans four floors with interactive exhibits, labs, theaters, workshops and more. While exploring you’ll find exhibits where you can learn about America’s food system and how to make it more sustainable, how kinetic energy works and everyone’s favorite: dinosaurs.

What’s new: You can now book private experiences for small groups where you can choose to be an animal keeper for the day or get creative in the Makerspace to learn everything from origami to soldering a circuit board.

Pro-tip: Be sure to stop by The Red Tails Monument just outside the entrance to the museum. This was the first national monument that honored the Red Tail Pilots of the historic Tuskegee Airmen.

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  • Museums
  • Winter Park Gateway Center

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is located in historic Winter Park. The museum houses the largest collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany including leaded-glass lames, painting, art glass and windows. The spacious museum is also home to American pottery, paintings and more. The quiet halls of the museum make this a nice stop in the mid-afternoon after a day of exploring bustling Winter Park or taking a ride on the Winter Park Scenic Boat Tour.

What’s new: The Morse Museum is currently showing off some of their prized portraits, including paintings of people like Jeremiah Evarts, who was an American activist in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

Pro-tip: When you walk into the Tiffany cathedral be sure to sit down and wait for the 'show.' Every few minutes the lights in the room go from bright to dim to show off the different ways the stained glass can reflect color.

  • Museums
  • Carolina Florida

The rise and demise of the Titanic has captured the imaginations of people for decades. In Orlando you can step into a recreation of the 1912 vessel to see over 300 artifacts, full scale room recreations and interact with costumed actors. Monday through Friday the museum offers guided tours where visitors will learn real life stories of passengers and crew on board, along with how artifact recovery and conservation is done.

What’s new: The guided tours are new and allow you to ask questions as you tour the museum.

Pro-tip: Florida residents can get $5 off admission by showing a valid Florida driver’s license.

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  • Museums
  • Lake Formosa

The Orlando Fire Museum building was built in 1926 and originally housed Station 3. The museum showcases the history of firefighting in Orlando. One of the coolest things in the museum's collection is the 1926 American LeFrance fire engine that’s been completely restored. Currently the museum is only open on Friday and Saturday. 

Pro-tip: Entry into the museum is free, but the museum does run on donations, so consider adding a few dollars into the box at the end of your tour.

  • Museums
  • Downtown Orlando

The Orange County Regional History Center is located in a historic building from 1927 that was once the Orange County courthouse. Now the museum is used for documenting and teaching the public about Orlando’s history from aviation to the Pulse Nightclub tragedy, and currently honoring healthcare workers in a special exhibition.

What’s new: The latest exhibitions at the museum include one spotlighting healthcare heroes and one highlighting the five years that have past since the Pulse Nightclub shooting. Later this year the museum will welcome an exhibition on the world of magical creatures.

Pro-tip: On the third Thursday of every month the museum offers free admission in the evening from 5 to 8pm. 

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  • Art
  • Orwin Manor

The stunning home of Albin Polasek, a Czech sculptor, is nestled on the shore of Lake Osceola. The home is currently on the National Register of Historic Places. While walking around visitors can enjoy paintings, sculptures and more that reflect the life and legacy of Polasek, along with other American artists. The outdoor gardens are filled with a variety of sculptures and shouldn't be missed. 

What’s new: The current exhibit honors the work of American artist Cynthia Holmes.

Pro-tip: You can take a picnic lunch with you to enjoy on the outside grounds complete with sculptures and people watching.

Itching to spend time outdoors?

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