The 11 Best Museums In Sydney

Published by: Bounce4 April, 2022

When planning a visit to the Land Down Under you may not think of going to a museum, but going to one in Sydney is different. Australian museums seem to reflect the Aussie attitude of being laid back and having fun. So when you plan to visit Sydney make sure you visit one of its museums as well.

The museums in Sydney have great interactive programs and amazing exhibitions but still manage to make their statement heard whether it be for human rights or educating people on the sciences and history. Whatever you are into they have a museum that will pique your interest.

As laid back as the Aussies are they don't really want you dragging your luggage through the museums, so store it safe and secure here at a Sydney luggage locker. Explore the museums hands-free!

Australian Museum

Are you looking for a place to take the kids? Being the first museum in Australia, the Australian Museum has had a big advantage. The museum has a collection of almost 22 million objects and specimens and an earned reputation for leading the world in science. The massive museum has great permanent exhibitions, special events, and educational programs for all ages.

And what does it cost to get into the largest and more popular museum in Sydney? Nothing! Entry and all the permanent exhibitions are free, which is great if you have a big family that loves science and history. Kids will have a blast in the temporary exhibit, LEGO Jurrasic World (there is a charge for this one though).

Located across from Hyde Park in the downtown business area, it couldn't be more convenient to get to. After spending a few hours checking out dinos, discovering how the universe works, or learning about the culture of the local aboriginal people you can relax in the sunshine in the park. There is so much going on in the Australian Museum that you may want to visit a couple of times to see it all.

Hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm

Location: 1 William St, Sydney, New South Wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Home to a huge collection of Australian, international, Aboriginal, and Torres Strait Islander art, the classical building is amongst the largest art museums in Australia. It is the most important public gallery in the country, bringing the beauty of modern and contemporary art alongside European masters to the public.

Even the location of the building is a thing of beauty, overlooking Sydney Harbour. All of the permanent galleries are free, as well as a lot of the temporary exhibitions. The Art Gallery of New South Wales has more than just art, they also have lectures, live music performances, and films. If you get hungry, try the restaurant where the food is just as remarkable as the art in the gallery.

Hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm, Fridays until 9 pm

Location: Art Gallery Road, The Domain, Sydney, New South Wales

State Library of New South Wales

The State Library is an actual library, but it also houses some very interesting galleries that any museum buff would love to explore. A collection of over 300 paintings, magic paraphernalia, and rare maps of the Pacific can all be found here. Guided tours, workshops, special talks, and, of course, an incredibly impressive collection of books and research materials keep you busy for hours.

Even the kids will love it here, with special programs, a kids library, and a playroom. Situated right by the Royal Botanical Garden near Sydney Harbour, the beautiful classic building couldn't have a better setting. This really is a museum of a different kind, but one not to miss.

Hours: Monday to Friday 9 am - 5 pm, Weekends & Holidays 10 am - 5 pm

Location: 1 Shakespeare Place, Sydney, New South Wales

Australian National Maritime Museum

The Australian National Maritime Museum is the perfect spot for those that love the sea. Exhibitions and maritime-based collections that recount Australia's prolific history with the ocean. The collection is so vast, that not all can be displayed at one time.

The unique wavy roof of the Australian National Maritime Museum is a reflection of the actual waves of Darling Harbour, where you can climb aboard the largest collection of in-water historic vessels. A submarine, a navy destroyer, and a replica of the HMB Endeavor, the ship that brought James Cook to Australia, are all waiting for you to discover.

Hours: Daily 10 am - 4 pm

Location: 2 Murray St, Darling Harbour, Sydney, New South Wales

Justice And Police Museum

Like a clue that escapes notice, the Justice and Police Museum is often overlooked because it is only open on the weekends. But like solving a crime, discovering this gem of a museum will give you a thrill few others will.

Learn about the real-life bad guys of Sydney's colorful past, test your skills at solving crimes, and check out antique firearms and equipment for free. This is such a fun museum! Make sure you prebook your spot, it would be a crime to miss it.

Hours: Weekends 10 am - 5 pm

Location: Corner Albert and Phillip Streets, Circular Quay, Sydney, New South Wales

Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks Discovery Museum is a small museum that is spread through three houses dating back to 1844. It tells the story of The Rocks area, the first European settlement in Sydney. The sandstone warehouses contain a fantastic collection of rare historic artifacts and fun family-friendly interactive exhibits.

The small museum is often overlooked but it really is worth a look, just make sure you book ahead of time. It is free but because of its size, its capacity is limited. 

Hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm

Locations: 2-8 Kendall Lane, The Rocks, New South Wales

White Rabbit Gallery

Dedicated to showcasing contemporary Chinese art, the White Rabbit Gallery was opened in 2009 by Judith Nelson. Since then, it has become one of the most important galleries and significant collections in Sydney. The White Rabbit Gallery is one of Sydney's lesser-known galleries but is most certainly worth a visit.

The white-walled gallery contains four stories of incredible contemporary Chinese art for you to peruse for free. And when you need a break there is a wonderful teahouse on the ground floor serving teas from China and Taiwan, dumplings, and yummy scones.

Hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10 am - 5 pm

Location: 30 Balfour St, Chippendale, New South Wales

Chau Chak Wing Museum

Although the Chau Chak Wing Museum is a newer museum, it contains some of the greatest artifacts in Australia. Over 30,000 relics, artifacts, and other objects spread through 18 exhibitions. Almost half a million objects from the realms of natural history, ancient cultures, art, and the world of science are there waiting for you to discover.

The museum has some fantastic interactive exhibits and programs for kids and adults to explore. This relatively new museum can be found at the University of Sydney, one of the top universities in the country. It is free entry and when you have finished exploring the museum you will want to check out the university grounds.

Hours: Monday to Friday 10 am - 5 pm, Saturday & Sunday 12 pm - 4 pm

Location: University Place, Camperdown, New South Wales

Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art is a fantastic place to spend an afternoon and not just for the art. Dedicated to celebrating the works of living artists the museum's goal is to bring art to as many people as possible. Showing incredible temporary national and international exhibits that add to their already impressive collection.

Believing art is for everyone, the museum highlights diversity in both the artists and their mediums. Paintings, sculptures, photography, video, and other art forms decorate the halls of one of the most modern and progressive buildings in Sydney, and entry is completely free.

The museum is situated in The Rocks area of Sydney overlooking Circular Quay with great views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House. The views can be enjoyed while enjoying a delicious breakfast or brunch in MCA Cafe before or after enjoying all that mind-blowing art.

Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10 am - 5 pm, Fridays until 9 pm

Location: 140 George St, The Rocks, New South Wales

Sydney Jewish Museum

One of the most emotional museums in Australia, the Sydney Jewish Museum tells the history of not only the Holocaust but of Jewish history and culture in Australia. The Museum is located in the historic Maccabean Hall which was originally built to honor the South Wales Jews who served in World War I.

You will hear stories from Holocaust survivors that will make your heart ache and possibly bring you to tears. The Sydney Jewish Museum is a place that as much as it is somber also conveys a stirring message of tolerance. It is a museum that should be visited by everyone when visiting Sydney, museum lover or not.

Hours: Sunday to Thursday 10 am - 4 pm

Location: 148 Darlinghurst Road, Darlinghurst, New South Wales

Powerhouse Museum

This is a museum that is perfect for people into the sciences, and the people that have contributed to our world today through design, technology, engineering, and the arts. The museum has twelve permanent exhibitions, workshops, forums, and some great demonstrations and performances.

No matter what your age is, this is an amazing place to explore and have fun. It even has a Zero Gravity Space Lab where people can experience what it would be like floating in space. And on Thursdays, there is a late-night program with live music, films, and some cool special events.

Hours: Daily 10 am - 5 pm, Thursdays until 9 pm

Location: 500 Harris St, Ultimo, New South Wales

What are the best free museums in Sydney?

For those that love art and are not overly fond of the sciences, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Art Gallery of New South Wales are great choices. If, however, you like a wider variety in your museum, then the Australian Museum or the newer Chau Chak Wing Museum is for you.

Which are the best museums in Downtown Sydney?

There are quite a few museums in the Downtown Sydney area, of particular note is the Powerhouse Museum with its great range of displays and very cool interactive experiences. The Museum of Sydney, near Circular Quay on the site of the first Government House, tells the story of Sydney and the people that have made it one of the greatest cities in the world.

Are there any cheap museums in Sydney?

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of free museums in Sydney. While some charge entry fees, most are very reasonable. Here are a couple of museums that are worth the extra penny. The Sydney Jewish Museum is a must! Very few museums will have you shedding a tear or two like this one. A place that housed convicts, been an asylum, and an immigration depot, the Hyde Park Barracks will transport you back in time.

Sydney Museums

As the Aussies would say, "Get on it and go walkabout" and you will have a crackin' time in one of the greatest cities in the world exploring some truly incredible museums.

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