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The 10 Best Museums In Adelaide

21 April, 2022by Bounce

Adelaide, South Australia is often described as one of the world's most livable cities. It is a place with a rich history, multicultural population and chic atmosphere. The city is small, in fact, you can reach any point in 20 minutes from the city centre, but make no mistake it is full of things to do and new experiences for you to discover. It has earned the nickname of the City of Churches because of all its beautiful old cathedrals, as well as the Opal City since it has the best selection of opals for sale both locally and internationally.

If you enjoyed these fun facts and want to learn more about the city, its landscape and the rest of the world, then you should spend some time visiting the different museums in Adelaide. First, stop by a baggage locker in Adelaide to leave your large bags. Most museums do not permit you to bring them inside.

The South Australian Maritime Museum

This is one of the transport related museums located in the city. It takes up three floors of space so there is quite a lot for you to explore and you can learn a lot about South Australia's maritime history. Aside from permanent exhibits there are traveling displays that show up several times throughout the year, as well as plays and events for kids during school holidays.

Here you can experience what it was like to be on one of the ships that would bring you into Port Adelaide. You can also learn about the aquatic life in the area, like the port dolphins. Your ticket includes access to the Port Adelaide Lighthouse which, if you climb to the top, offers amazing views of the city.

The Migration Museum

It is no surprise that a young city like Adelaide is so multicultural. Adelaide has really embraced the different origins of its population. The Migration Museum offers visitors a detailed description of the waves of immigration that have entered the city, beginning from the first South Australian settlers to the ones who are still choosing to come here today.

The building that houses the museum used to be the South Australian Destitute Asylum. The exhibits here can help its visitors understand the issues and struggles of immigration but also how the different cultures have transformed the city and helped it to become what it is today.

The South Australian Aviation Museum

This museum is appropriately housed in a relocated WWII hangar and is one of the best museums in Adelaide. Over 15 different aircraft are housed here and if you pay them a visit you can see and touch them in person. Some of the aircraft can't be interacted with unless you are on a guided tour, but if you sign up for one, you can get access to the inside of the plane and learn about how the controls in the cockpit work.

Aside from teaching you about the different airplanes and their history you can see plane propellers or different parts of an engine to learn about how they work. This museum is popular among kids and makes for a spectacular family outing, but even if you are traveling alone, we recommend paying them a visit.

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

The word "Tandanya" translates to "place of the red kangaroo", and this institute serves as an art gallery. It is actually the oldest Aboriginal owned centre that has been operating for nearly three decades now. You can learn about the history of Australia's Aboriginal people through gorgeous artwork and exhibits.

It is an interactive arts space that likes to keep its visitors involved so there are sometimes live music and performances put on. Make sure you don't miss your opportunity to visit it while you are in Adelaide.

The Art Gallery of South Australia

This is one of the city's most impressive art galleries which has more than forty thousand pieces of artwork on display. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come here every year and you should be one of them when you visit Adelaide.

There are all sorts of styles and forms of artwork ranging from traditional to modern. Come here to see paintings, sculptures, drawings, and more which are divided into temporary exhibitions and permanent exhibits. If you want to see everything that the museum has to offer you should follow one of the free guided tours which happen daily. Talks, events and films happen regularly during the day as well as on Friday nights.

The South Australian Museum

One of Adelaide's best museums is the South Australian Museum and there is something here for everyone. The ground floor is known for being popular among children and the rest has interesting exhibits for the whole family. This museum also offers free tours so check their schedule to see when they are happening.

This establishment is home to the world's biggest collection of Aboriginal Australian artifacts, which is quite impressive. Other exhibits include a gallery on Ancient Egypt and an area explaining the local biodiversity. Kids love this display since you can see different life-sized animals including tigers, bears, monkeys, elephants and aquatic creatures like the giant squid.

National Railway Museum

This is a common favorite among children, but even if you are traveling alone you can have a fun time at the National Railway Museum in Adelaide. It is the largest museum of its kind in all of Australia and is home to some pretty impressive exhibits.

It doubles as both a train museum and a history museum. It first opened back in 1970 and you will be taught all about the railway industry and private railway operators, how it has changed over the years, and how it has impacted the development of Adelaide. The over-100 different exhibits can let you see train carriages, engines and more up close, and you can even take a fun train ride.

Ayers House Museum

The Ayers House is known to be the city's finest Victorian house, and you can step foot inside six days a week when it is open to the public. It is actually the last mansion of its era to survive and no others of its kind can be found on this side of the North Terrace of Adelaide.

The house was formerly owned by Sir Henry Ayers, who was South Australia's premier five times in the decade between 1863 and 1873. While you are visiting, you can use your imagination to picture what life could have been like as an upper-class person in the 19th century.

Bay Discovery Centre Museum

Adelaide's Bay Discovery Centre describes itself as a social history museum celebrating everything about the city and its people. Although it is small, the centre is bright and full of interesting exhibits and displays.

This colorful museum is inviting and covers an array of topics. As a bonus, entry is only a gold coin donation so it is an affordable activity for the whole family. Come here to learn about anything from the first settlers of South Australia and the Glenelg tram to the old Magic Mountain theme park and the history of swimsuits.

Tramway Museum

Another of the local transportation museums is the Tramway Museum, which will teach you all about Adelaide's tram history. Buying a ticket to the museum will give you access to the building as well as rides for all of the trams in the city. If you have kids they are sure to enjoy this museum, and afterward, you can take a tram ride on the loop that passes by the playground in St Kilda.

Overall there are about 30 trams in the museum that have all been restored and are available for you to look at up close. Some of them are from interstate but most of the displays focus on the history of the trams in Adelaide. If you are interested in more transport museums, you can visit the ones mentioned above or try the National Motor Museum.

What are the best free museums in Adelaide?

The Art Gallery of South Australia

The Art Gallery of South Australia is home to an amazing permanent collection of fine art and some of the best contemporary crafts and artwork. Plus, it is one of the city's most gorgeous buildings which is another reason to visit it. Since entry is free you can stop by and see the State's premier collection as often as you want while you are in South Australia.

The South Australian Museum

The South Australian Museum has exhibits for a little bit of everything, like art displays, the largest collection of Australian Aboriginal artifacts around the world as well as exhibits on the natural history of the city and its environment. Kids often have a blast walking around the different displays and with free admission, you can come to visit it again and again.

The Migration Museum

Head to the early colonial bluestone building found near the State Library to find Adelaide's Migration Museum. You can learn all about the cultural heritage and settlement history of the citizens of the city, and you don't even have to pay to get in.

Which are the best museums in downtown Adelaide?

Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute

This is the single oldest Aboriginal operated arts centre and it is found right inside the Adelaide city centre. If you find yourself nearby you can come to see and learn about the art and story telling of the local Aboriginal Australian population.

South Australian Maritime Museum

Found just by the downtown area of Adelaide towards the water is the South Australian Maritime Museum. This Adelaide museum is one of a kind and can teach you all about the boats, people and creatures that are found around Port Adelaide, SA.

National Railway Museum

Found not too far away is the National Railway Museum which is dedicated towards Australia's long locomotive tradition. If you have some extra time after visiting the Maritime Museum mentioned above you can head here to learn more about the transportation in Adelaide.

Are there any cheap museums in Adelaide?

The South Australian Aviation Museum

If you are looking for some affordable museums to explore, start with the South Australian Aviation Museum. You have to pay to get in but tickets don't cost much, which makes it a great choice for anyone who is traveling on a budget. Passes are $10 for adults, $5 for children aged under 16 and kids under the age of 5 can get in free. If you are visiting as a group, consider buying a family pack for $25.

Tramway Museum

Another great choice for affordable museums is the Tramway Museum. Tickets are only around $10 for adults. They also have a deal for groups or families so you can all get in for about $28.

Ayers House Museum

This historic house is a must-see when you are in Adelaide, and luckily tickets don't cost too much. Adults can get in for about $10, children under 16 can have a ticket for $5, and if you have any family members that are under 5, they can tag along at no extra charge.

The Best Adelaide Museums for You to Visit

You can do a lot in Adelaide, from walking through the city to see the street art, going on guided walking or ghost tours, or visiting public parks like the Adelaide Botanic Gardens. But if you really want to get to know the city and its people then you should stop by some of the museums listed above.

Whether you want to visit a modern institution or old-style museum you will find them here, and each one can help you learn and experience something new. We hope that this guide to all of the top Adelaide museums has helped you decide which ones you want to visit, although they are all great choices. If you have the time we recommend you visit as many as possible!

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