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15 Best Museums in Duluth, Minnesota

15 Best Museums in Duluth, Minnesota

It’s no surprise that it gets cold in Duluth. Like very cold. But, in light of that cold weather, you can cozy up into a gallery with a coffee or get lost in a museum and not have the explorer guilt of not being outside. You’re in luck as there are plenty of museums in Duluth, Minnesota to fulfill your inner explorer.

If you are from out of town and staying a night or two, check out these top Duluth hotels to ensure yous stay nearby one of these museums.

List of the best museums in Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth Children’s Museum

Address: 2125 W Superior St, Duluth, MN 55806, United States

Rating: 4.3 out of 5

The Duluth Children’s Museum is a delightful children’s museum located in Duluth, Minnesota. It is a long-standing children’s center with innovative and educational exhibitions, classes, and events.

During the Great Depression, the museum was built on the belief that children should have access to educational opportunities beyond those provided by their schools.

The Duluth Children’s Museum engages children, their families, caregivers, classrooms, and the community in interactive exhibits, educational programs, creative play, and opportunities to connect with our collection.

The fifth-oldest Children’s Museum in the country continued to find innovative ways to engage children in learning through play.

The Duluth Children’s Museum offers interactive exhibitions, educational activities, imaginative play, and opportunities to communicate with the museum’s collection to children, families, parents, classrooms, and the community.

The museum recognizes children’s need for unstructured playtime in which children can learn new things about themselves and the world around them.

The exhibits at the Duluth Children’s Museum are built to give kids the freedom to solve problems independently.

Visitors can navigate an ore boat across the Duluth Canal or blast off in the museum’s Dream Machine; there’s plenty of fun to be had at the Duluth Children’s Museum. It’s a fantastic place for kids to learn about science and technology through hands-on activities.

See Related: Best Restaurants in Duluth, Minnesota

Lake Superior Marine Museum

Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge

Address: 600 Canal Park Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

The Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center is a museum operated by the US Army Corps of Engineers. It is a fantastic museum in Duluth, Minnesota. The museum is located in Canal Park in Duluth, near the Aerial Lift Bridge, and overlooks the Duluth-Superior harbor entry.

The center has displays and information about Great Lakes shipping and a freight vessel arrival and departure schedule. Exhibits depict the history and activities of commercial shipping on the upper Great Lakes and the Aerial Lift Bridge.

The museum has three historically accurate replica cabins and a pilothouse from traditional ships that plowed the waves of Lake Superior in years past are especially popular with tourists.

The museum and its grounds are all owned by the United States government. This museum is open to all tourists and is free to enter. The Lake Superior Marine Museum Association accepts donations to help general building repairs and upkeep, new display creation and acquisition, and staffing.

This is a spot where maritime heritage is remembered, and the natural beauty of the surrounding region is undeniable, making it ideal for photos and picnic lunches.

The Lake Superior Marine Museum and Maritime Visitor Center is an excellent place for a family outing, and it’s close to the Aerial Lift Bridge and other tourist attractions!

Tweed Museum of Art

Address: 1201 Ordean Ct, Duluth, MN 55812, United States

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

The Tweed Museum of Art is a fantastic museum located on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus in Duluth, Minnesota. Tweed Gallery opened to the public on September 20, 1950, and it had been George P. Tweed and Alice Tweed Tuohy’s home, which had housed the donated collection before the museum room opened in 1958.

The Minnesota State Arts Board, Land & Legacy Amendment, the Minnesota Historical and Cultural Heritage Funds through the Clean Water, and the Minnesota State Legislature contribute to the Tweed Museum.

The Tweed Museum of Art, located on the campus of the University of Minnesota Duluth, is a primary cultural and educational resource for the Upper Midwest, with a permanent collection of over 10,000 artifacts covering a wide variety of cultural periods of art history.

The Tweed Museum of Art is an art collecting and teaching organization and museum that encourages everyone: locals and international tourists to learn by stewarding collections, conducting research, and providing visual arts programs for the University and local communities.

The museum’s collection has works in all media by the talented regional, national, and foreign artists from the 15th to 21st centuries, including exceptional work by artists from the Upper Midwest and Minnesota.

See Related: Best Things to do in Southern Minnesota

Lake Superior Railroad Museum

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a world-class railroad museum located in Duluth, Minnesota.

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum is an excellent place for young and old railroad enthusiasts and historians.

Over eight steam, 14 diesel, and two electric locomotives, as well as more than 40 other pieces of rolling stock, are on display at the museum.

The Lake Superior Railroad Museum, housed in the historic Duluth Union Depot, holds the country’s finest collection of railroad equipment.

With immersive displays and regional history, the Lake Superior Railroad Museum is a must-see attraction in Duluth.

The museum, which began as a small community project in 1973, has quickly developed into one of the country’s largest and most respected railway museums.

It is located inside the renovated Union Depot complex in Duluth, with most of its prominent display space enclosed for all-weather viewing. The collection reflects the museum’s emphasis on railroading in the Lake Superior area.

While the museum is fully open, the railroad equipment on display in the gallery was not built to be wheelchair accessible and can only be viewed from the ground level.

The scenic railroad ticket windows are near the gift shop in the museum’s east end.

See Related: Best Things to do in Minnesota

Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Address: 902 E 1st St, Duluth, MN 55805, United States

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum in Duluth, Minnesota, is fantastic. The exhibition hall of a 1912 building with a dome houses historical documents and cultural activities.

The Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum features a revolving display that focuses on up to 26 documents at a time, with subjects ranging from history to music to science to literature to painting.

The structure is a lovely structure with a large show hall on the main level. The acoustics are excellent thanks to the high ceiling, and the building is ideal for musical concerts and other events. This museum has hosted many concerts, recitals, school concerts, and singing groups throughout the years.

Many visitors have visited the museum over the years, including schools, senior citizen tours, local and foreign tourists, and organizations, to whom we have given special talks about the documents and manuscripts discussed during the tour inside the museum.

The Lydia Parker Civil War art show, Hands-on Time, is a national traveling photography exhibit that tourists can enjoy when touring Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum’s great foundation.

This excellent museum is committed to educating the general public by preserving the original handwritten letters and records of historical figures who influenced history in their care.

William A Irvin Museum

Address: 350 Harbor Dr, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

The William A. Irvin Museum is a fantastic museum dedicated to William A. Irvin, a bulk freighter that operated on the Great Lakes as part of US Steel’s lake fleet.

The William A Irvin Museum is a lake freighter that served as the company’s flagship from its launch in the depths of the Great Depression in 1938 until 1975 and then as a general workhorse until 1978.

In 1989, the ship was added to the National Register of Historic Places because of its state-level importance in engineering, maritime history, and transportation. William A. Irvin is a well-kept example of a classic laker and a prime example of a straight decker due to her lack of a self-unloading device.

The William A Irvin Museum was nominated for its contributions to the Great Lakes maritime trade and its unique design features. Despite transporting iron ore and coal through treacherous storms for 40 years, the William A. Irvin is still in excellent condition today.

The museum receives donations. Make a group reservation, obtain ticket information, or learn more about the museum’s rich history.

The William A Irvin Museum has a gift shop with the area’s most extensive collection of nautical objects and collectibles. Visitors can purchase souvenirs and mementos from their visit to the immaculate museum.

See Related: Best and Fun Things to do in Duluth

Glensheen Mansion

Historic Mansion

Address: 3300 London Rd, Duluth, MN 55804, United States

Rating: 4.7 out of 5

The Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota, is a lovely museum. The Historic Congdon Estate has a large land with over 20,000 square foot mansion in Duluth, Minnesota, operated as a historic house museum by the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Glensheen is an architectural and decorative arts masterpiece that tells the story of Northland’s mining past.

It was built between 1905 and 1908 for Chester and Clara Congdon. The museum, which is perched on the shores of Lake Superior, is Minnesota’s most visited historic home.

Gardens, bridges, and the renowned 39-room mansion designed with impressive 20th-century craftsmanship tell the story of the Duluth area on our 12-acre estate.

Glensheen is owned by one of Minnesota’s wealthiest and most powerful families, based in Duluth. It was later donated to the University of Minnesota and opened as a historic building museum in 1979, with the collection remaining intact.

Glensheen Mansion’s grounds and gardens are immaculate and breathtaking. It is a beautiful estate known as a living history lesson to everyone, from the original furniture and portraits of former residents to the immaculate grounds and gardens.

The Congdon estate has over 12-acres of formal gardens, vegetable gardens, trails, and a boathouse with a pier for viewing Lake Superior.

RICHARD I. BONG VETERANS HISTORICAL CENTER

Address: 305 E 2nd St, Superior, WI 54880, United States

Rating: 4.8 out of 5

In Superior, Wisconsin, Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center is a museum that houses a local history museum with war artifacts, military equipment, and a restored P-38 Lightning aircraft.

The old Richard I. Bong World War II Heritage Center, which honored World War II veterans, has been renamed the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center. It is now recognized all veterans who have represented the United States since 1942.

A monument to Richard I. Bong stood in Poplar, Wisconsin, about 15 miles east of the Twin Ports cities of Duluth, Minnesota, and Superior, Wisconsin, for more than 50 years. It was named after Dick Bong of Poplar, America’s all-time leading Ace, who flew a P-38 Lightning on more than 200 flights over the Southwest Pacific during World War II, destroying 40 enemy planes – the most by any US pilot before or since.

Use our Superior holiday builder site to get the most out of your Superior vacation, including the Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center.

This amazing museum honors and grants to those who served in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, or any other war. The Richard I. Bong Veterans Historical Center needs to interpret the museum for the past and remembrance of those who served.

See Related: Best Things to do in Lake City, Minnesota

The St. Louis County Depot

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

The St. Louis County Depot, located in Duluth, Minnesota, is a historic train station. It was built as a union station in 1892, and at its height, it served seven separate rail lines. It is now one of the country’s great museums.

The Saint Louis County Depot is a historic building that provides quirky and enjoyable tours, community activities, and access to a scenic railroad, great train museum. It also has fantastic historical displays, two theaters, and Duluth’s oldest and largest visual arts organization housed at the museum.

With the Depot slated for demolition in the early 1970s, a group of residents approached St. Louis County with great vision for a center for the arts, culture, and history inside the historic structure.

St. Louis County backed up this vision by purchasing the building in 1972.

For more than four decades, the county has embraced this vision by offering subsidized space to residents, overseeing building operations, and maintaining the historic structure with necessary repairs and improvements.

Tourists from all over the world will enjoy visiting the St. Louis County Depot. The museum has worked hard to ensure that the Depot remains a lively and healthy facility in downtown Duluth, and every tourist who walks through its doors has learned a lot about it.

Fairlawn Mansion & Museum

Address: 906 E 2nd St #3245, Superior, WI 54880, United States

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Fairlawn Mansion & Museum is a Queen Anne Victorian mansion in Superior, Wisconsin, with exquisite antiques, furniture, lush gardens, and tours. Superior’s Victorian home, Fairlawn Mansion, was a private residence from 1890 to 1920 and a Children’s Home for 42 years.

With its four-story tower and widow’s watch overlooking the harbor, this magnificent Queen Anne Victorian mansion is a rare and well-known landmark in Superior. In the summer, typical flower varieties such as peony, rose, hydrangea, and lily adorn the vast lawns.

Fairlawn Mansion is a historic site that hosts tours and special events regularly. Martin Pattison, Superior’s mayor, lumber baron, and miner, designed and constructed the mansion. Until 1918, he and his family stayed in the house. For 42 years, the Fairlawn Mansion served as a Children’s Home for over 2,000 children. The first floor was fully renovated in the 1990s, and visitors can take a tour of all three floors.

Fairlawn Mansion is a beautiful mansion that welcomes tourists and offers tours all year. Guests are free to walk through the grounds and photograph the gardens and exterior of the mansion at their leisure.

The museum provides a self-guided tour that departs at the top of the hour from the Carriage House Gift Shop in the museum’s vicinity.

Historic Union Depot

Building Front of a Depot

Duluth Union Depot, Duluth, MN by Tim Stewart

Address: 506 W Michigan St, Duluth, MN 55802, United States

Rating: 4.6 out of 5

Duluth, Minnesota’s Historic Union Depot is a magnificent museum. On March 1, 1892, Duluth’s Union Depot first opened its doors.

The rail station, which Peabody and Stearns of Boston designed, is one of the few examples of French Norman style architecture in the United States. The Union Depot served seven railroads in Duluth’s heyday, with 50 trains arriving and leaving each day.

The Historic Union Depot, which replaced the Union Station, housed a variety of interesting railroad offices and spaces such as a newsstand, barbershop, essential parcel space, and several lunchrooms.

For years before and after the first and second world wars, the structure was a bustling center that linked Duluth to the rest of the nation.

The structure sat vacantly and was on its way to being demolished. Instead, in 1970, the building was designated as a National Historic Site as a result of extensive community engagement, and work on repurposing the structure began.

The St. Louis County Heritage and Arts Center reopened its doors in 1973 to the general public, giving the historic Union Depot a new lease on life in Duluth.

The Historic Union Depot now houses over seven cultural organizations and contributes to its wonderful heritage and arts programming.

See Related: Best Hiking Trails in Duluth, Minnesota

Superior Public Museums

Address: 906 E 2nd St, Superior, WI 54880, United States

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Superior Public Museums is an outstanding museum located in Superior, Wisconsin. Fairlawn Mansion, the SS Meteor Whaleback Ship, and the Old Firehouse and Police Museum are all operated by Superior Public Museums. Tours, festivals, private rentals, and much more are available at each venue.

It’s a one-stop-shop for seeing and enjoying Superior’s three best attractions. At three exclusive turn-of-the-century museums, Superior Public Museums offers tours and activities. The SS Meteor Whaleback Ship and the Old Firehouse and Police Museum are open from May to October.

Superior Bay is visible from the city of Superior, which extends through the landscape at the head of Lake Superior.

The town was a vital shipping port and a thriving center of the industry at the turn of the twentieth century, where men of vision made fortunes. Superior Public Museums is proud to play a role in preserving the rich and fascinating past of this region. We cordially invite you to join us as we ride back in time to the Gilded Age.

The Superior Public Museums’ architectures were excellent and stunning, with a vast first-floor exhibit hall packed with a pleasant and fascinating history.

It’s a fantastic place for locals and visitors from all over the world to explore while living or vacationing in Superior, Wisconsin. Check out these other best things to do in Superior if you make the trip from Duluth.

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Bob Dylan’s Childhood Home

Address: 519 N 3rd Ave E, Duluth, MN 55805, United States

Rating: 4.2 out of 5

In Duluth, Minnesota, Bob Dylan’s Childhood Home has been transformed into a fantastic museum. It is the birthplace of legendary musician Bob Dylan. Until Dylan was six years old, the Zimmerman family lived in Duluth.

When Dylan’s father was diagnosed with polio, the family relocated to Hibbing, Minnesota, where Dylan’s mother grew up. The Zimmermans’ Duluth home, located at 519 N. 3rd Ave. E. is still standing.

Locals and tourists visiting Duluth who are fans of Bob Dylan will enjoy stopping by this fantastic museum, which has well-preserved memorabilia and materials as a tribute to the great singer.

In 2016, an “In Bob We Trust” medallion was embedded in the museum’s sidewalk.

It houses Bob Dylan’s setlists from every night of the Never Ending Tour, among other items. They always go up minutes after a show finishes, regardless of where it occurs worldwide, making them an essential resource for Dylan fans.

In 2006, the city of Duluth named “Bob Dylan Way” as a route connecting the city’s cultural landmarks.

According to the pathway’s website, “Duluth should be rightly proud of being the birthplace of Robert Zimmerman,” but “most specifically, we should be proud of our community’s ongoing dedication to supporting local art and local artists.”

See Related: Best Museums in Minnesota

Old Firehouse & Police Museum

Address: 402 23rd Ave E #3707, Superior, WI 54880, United States

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

In Superior, Wisconsin, the Old Firehouse & Police Museum is a charming museum with a rich past. It’s an 1898 firehouse with exceptional antique firefighting vehicles and equipment on display, as well as police memorabilia.

The Old Firehouse once has housed five horse-drawn rigs, including the city’s first steamer.

In the last of Superior’s turn-of-the-century firehouses, visitors can see and enjoy a rare look at the museum’s antique firefighting equipment and police memorabilia. The Old Firehouse & Police Museum features a turn-of-the-century ladder truck as well as items from emergency service through the years.

The first floor includes the Fire Chief’s 19th-century horse-drawn carriage, a 1906 Ahrens Steam Pumper, a fascinating 1919 LaFrance Ladder Truck, and a 1944 L Model Mack with a Hale pump, which is open to the public on a self-guided tour.

On the second floor, tourists can see the evolution of typical firefighters’ equipment over time and visit the State of Wisconsin Police and the great Fire Hall of Fame installation.

The museum can be toured in at least 45 minutes by each tourist.

The hose tower is a must-see for visitors, as is the Police Hall of Fame; the Old Firehouse & Police Museum has so many fascinating historical tales to tell.

See Related: Best Things to do in Cottage Grove, Minnesota

S S Meteor Maritime Museum

Address: 200 Marina Dr #3285, Superior, WI 54880, United States

Rating: 4.4 out of 5

In Superior, Wisconsin, the SS Meteor Maritime Museum is a beautiful museum housed in a land-berthed 1896 freighter ship with displays on shipwrecks and shipbuilding.

The SS Meteor Maritime Museum is home to the world’s only remaining above-water whaleback ship! From May to October, the museum is open on a seasonal basis. They deliver a self-guided tour that departs from the Museum’s Gift Shop.

Visitors should expect a fantastic tour if they want to get a firsthand look at any aspect of a large ship. The SS Meteor Maritime Museum tour offers an insightful and entertaining overview of the ship’s fascinating past.

Since the museum was launched as the Frank Rockefeller in Superior harbor, less than a mile from where the ship now sits, McDougall’s Whaleback #136 has undergone several changes.

After carrying many cargoes over the years, including iron ore, grain, sand and gravel, vehicles, and gasoline, the ship is now known as the SS Meteor.

Today, the SS Meteor Maritime Museum is one of the best museums globally for local and foreign tourists to visit and learn about the museum’s fascinating past.

It has exhibits on Great Lakes shipwrecks, and the history of shipbuilding in the Twin Ports can also be found at the museum.

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