A break from class? Yes, please. That’s probably the only reason we loved museum field trips as much as we did.
Now we’re all grown up (sort of), and never have to be forced to go to a museum again. But hey, some things in life need to be revisited as an adult (here’s looking at you, brussel sprouts) to truly appreciate them. Museums might be one of these things. And who knows? Maybe you’ll come to see them as more than just that awesome excuse to play hooky from algebra or history class in high school.
From an 8-foot can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer to Sue, the world’s largest T. rex, there’s plenty to keep you entertained at America’s most iconic museums. Here are just a few across the nation that you need to visit again, but this time of your own free will, and maybe even with a date.
METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
Every kid who grew up in the northeast has taken at least one class trip to NYC. And the centerpiece of that trip was undoubtedly a walk through Central Park, culminating in a visit to The Met. And though there’s a decent chance you remember the 5th Avenue hot dog you scarfed down in front of The Met more than its legendary antiquities wing, your adult self will beg to differ. The Met is the largest art museum in the country, featuring more than two million works of art. And new this year in 2017, there’s also an early morning, interactive exercise and movement based museum tour known as The Museum Workout.
MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM
Can’t think of Milwaukee without a mug of ice-cold beer coming to mind? Of course you do—especially after a visit to their art museum. An eight-foot rendition of a Pabst Blue Ribbon can welcomes you to the museum’s newly remodeled east wing. But since the Milwaukee Art Museum’s 2015 expansion, it feels like happy hour all day long for the cultured jetset. Adding on to the 2001-built, post-modern Quadracci Pavilion, the museum is as an awesome blend of fine art and contemporary architecture.
PHILADELPHIA MUSEUM OF ART
The kid in you sees the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has the impulse to throw on sweats, sing “Gonna Fly Now” and run up those steps just like Rocky did. Your adult self is beyond giddy that none other than Frank Gehry has spent years designing the museum’s expansion, set to begin construction in early 2017. It may be a toss up on which version of you is more excited, but either way, the third largest art museum in the country always comes out a winner.
NELSON-ATKINS MUSEUM OF ART
Beyond the 34,000 plus pieces in its collection representing a cross section of humanity over the last 5,000 years, the real highlight of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is the architecture. Their recent expansion—helmed by mastermind architect Steven Holl—features five giant glass lenses that pull natural light from the 22-acre sculpture garden and into the galleries. Friday nights are the highlight, when the museum’s restaurant serves up dinner and live music in a 15th-century Italian inspired courtyard.
No trip to our nation’s capital is complete without a visit to at least one of the 19 Smithsonian museums and galleries. If seeing a bit of old and new is your thing, there’s nothing better than checking out the Renwick Gallery—the Smithsonian’s craft and decorative art collection. The building is a National Historic Landmark, and the first in the country built specifically as an art museum. After undergoing a $30 million renovation in 2015, the space is just as stunning as the artwork.
THE USS MIDWAY MUSEUM
Rare is the museum that is both historic and experiential at the same time—rarer still that it all takes place on a ship. The USS Midway Museum is the longest serving US aircraft carrier of the 20th century. And in addition to the exhibits and 29 restored military aircrafts, it’s super cool to peep active servicemen and women re-enlisting on the flight deck, military retirement ceremonies and other military functions. Volunteer docents are often military vets who can offer eye-opening insight (i.e crazy, wild stories) about a sailor’s life aboard the carrier.
Remember that trip you took as a kid to the natural history museum? And you saw a dinosaur exhibit for the first time and almost lost it? The Field Museum offers the chance to recapture that awe all over again with the largest T. rex on the planet. And it’s a girl named Sue, standing at 13-feet tall and is nearly 40-feet wide. Beyond Sue, the museum holds over 20 million other artifacts with plenty of cool-themed exhibitions to check out, like the Hall of Gems, DNA Discovery Center, or the Maori Meeting House.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
Lots of museums have gardens. And some even have live shows or events. But there’s only one that has a rocket garden (exactly what it sounds like) and live rocket launches. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a wonderland of all things outer space. Astronaut meet and greets, the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit, and exploring an Apollo spacecraft that has been to the moon and back are just a few things that will make your inner Space Camp geek freak out. Throw in the fact that they’re about to undergo a major expansion that will bring in a Mars Rover, and you’ll run home to tell mom and dad that you want be an astronaut all over again.