Top 10 Birmingham Museums
Birmingham has long been known as the Civil Rights epicenter of the 1960s. However, this Southern city has other claims to fame: visit the Jazz Hall of Fame and learn about Birmingham’s role in music history; view the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit at the Southern Museum of Flight; learn about the evolution of medical history in one of the country’s best medical museums: the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences. Read on to discover “The Magic City” through the history and culture showcased in these Birmingham museums:
- Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
- Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
- Birmingham Museum of Art
- Southern Museum of Flight
- Alabama Historical Radio Society Don Kresge Memorial Museum
- Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens
- Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences
- Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum
- McWane Science Center
- Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
This most prominent of Birmingham museums is dedicated to promoting civil and human rights through education. Located in a city with a turbulent and important role in the Civil Rights Movement, this Birmingham beacon also documents the history of Birmingham African Americans’ struggle for equal rights in a city that caught the world’s attention in the 1960s. To learn more about Birmingham’s Civil Rights history and the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute go to: www.BCRI.org.
Located in the renowned Carver Theater in the historic 4th Avenue district, the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame once played host to Duke Ellington! The Hall of Fame exhibits are designed to take you on a musical tour of Alabama greats like Nat King Cole, Lionel Hampton, and “the Duke” that ends in the experimental present-day jazz scene. Learn more about Alabama’s role in music history at: www.JazzHall.com.
Birmingham’s art museum delivers up some surprises with its world-renowned collection of Wedgewood and its exquisite exhibition of Vietnamese ceramics: both the finest in the world. Explore the Birmingham Museum of Art’s Asian art collection that boasts of being the largest in the Southeastern United States. To view the Birmingham Museum of Art’s online collection go to: www.ArtsBMA.org.
Birmingham is home to an impressive collection of authentic flyers, trainers, jets, spy planes, and more! Chronicling the history of flight, this expansive museum houses an original Wright Flyer, Soviet built MiGs, and a B-52 Bomber. A not to miss exhibit features Alabama’s own Tuskegee Airmen. To plan your trip to the Southern Museum of Flight go to: www.SouthernMuseumOffLight.org.
Listen to and operate antique radios and learn about the early days of media in America. View the famous Superflex Radio as well as other historical radio memorabilia. Listen to rare radio broadcasts and take a class through the Alabama Historical Radio Society and learn how to restore your old electronics! For more information about this blast from the past go to: www.AlabamaHistoricalRadioSociety.org.
This Greek revival plantation home dates back to the 1840s and is Birmingham’s only antebellum mansion still standing. Built by one of the founders of the city, the Arlington Antebellum Home & Gardens showcases a fine collection of 19th century furnishings, cookware, tapestries, silver, and paintings and is a premiere showplace of Birmingham museums when it comes to decorative arts. To learn more about the Arlington Antebellum Home go to: www.InformationBirmingham.com.
Hosting a mammoth collection of rare medical instruments, manuals, and models, the Alabama Museum of the Health Sciences traces medical history through seven centuries. Affiliated with the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical School, this museum also chronicles the impact Alabama has had on medical history. To learn more about this most unique of museums in Birmingham visit: www.UAB.edu/AMHS/.
Featuring over 900 collectible motorcycles and racecars, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum houses the largest motorcycle collection in the world and is considered the World’s premiere motorsports museum. The museum is located in Barber Motorsports Park, which will host the 2010 IRL IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Alabama. To learn more about this motorsports extravaganza go to: www.BarberMuseum.org.
This hands-on museum is a blast of science-related fun. The new Shark & Ray Touch Tank in the McWane Science Center Aquarium will give you the opportunity to interact with life’s underwater creatures in a new way! Explore dinosaurs, jellyfish displays, watch laser & light exhibits, and sit back and be entertained in the new IMAX Dome Theater – featuring a 5-story tall screen! View one of the most interactive museums in Birmingham at: www.McWane.org.
Five of the top athletes in the century hail from Alabama! These sports legends are memorialized in the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame: Hank Aaron, Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, Willie Mays, and Carl Lewis. Featuring great educational activities for kids, one of the best museums in Birmingham will have something for the whole family to enjoy. To check out your sports icons go to: www.ASHOF.org.