Birmingham Museums Bring History to Life in Alabama

The Birmingham metro has a storied past that began after the Civil War and includes a major steel industry. Today, the city is known for its scenic beauty, rich culture and growth that has made it one of the top destinations in the South. One of the best ways to learn how this area has developed is to explore area attractions – especially the museums. There are several options, so read about these Birmingham museums and what they offer to visitors.

Birmingham Museums: Art, Motorcycles, Heroes and Other Must-sees

birmingham civil rights museum

Photo: Federal Bureau of Investigation via Flickr

Birmingham Civil Rights Museum

As an affiliate with the Smithsonian Institution, Birmingham Civil Rights Museum aims to enlighten visitors about civil and human rights. Through exhibits, guests can learn about the Civil Rights Movement and continued progress.

While browsing, visitors will see permanent exhibits such as human rights gallery and Civil Rights Movement gallery, learn about important confrontations, and hear what life was like before the movement. In addition, the museum welcomes traveling exhibits that honor significant people and hosts educational events.

McWane Science Center

Mad about science? Come to McWane Science Center. This museum showcases nearly 500,000 specimens and artifacts connected to Alabama’s natural history and has an IMAX theater.

Example exhibits include dinosaurs discovered in Alabama, sea monster fossils, geology, Birmingham Audubon Society and Native American artifacts. Families with children enjoy the explore lab with computer stations and interactive activities. Then grab a seat to watch a live animal show featuring bugs and birds of prey. IMAX shows include asteroids and barrier reefs.

birmingham museums motorcycle alabama

Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

Home to the world’s largest motorcycle collection, Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is a must-see. The museum opened in the early 1990s, and has since grown to include bikes from around the world. Each has been preserved and displayed for public enjoyment.

Upon arrival, guests will notice more than 900 motorcycles that showcase 100 years of production. The museum’s collection has more than 1,600 motorcycles, a large Lotus collection and rare race cars. Visitors may also notice the adjacent race track used for vehicle debuts, films, commercials and kart racing.

Birmingham Museum of Art

Ranked among the top Birmingham museums for its art collection, Birmingham Museum of Art is one of the top destinations for fine art in the South. The collection includes more than 27,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, and other mediums dating from ancient civilizations to present day.

While browsing thousands of pieces, guests may see oils on canvas, artifacts from Maya culture, porcelain, wood masks, bronze sculptures and stone, to name a few. The permanent collection features pieces from Asia, Europe, African, Pre-Columbian, Native American and American cultures. The museum also has traveling exhibits that showcase special topics.

birmingham museum flight

Photo: Kelly Verdeck via Flickr

Southern Museum of Flight

Southern Museum of Flight is one of the top Birmingham museums due to a large collection of air craft and learning space. It also houses models, engines, artifacts, photographs and the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame.

Exhibits are located inside and outside. Inside the museum expect to learn about Korean War jets, Tuskegee Airmen, the rescued Lake Murray B-25, Vietnam War and crop dusters. Outside visitors will see helicopters, bombers, interceptors and other aircraft.

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

Sports are a big deal in Alabama. Therefore, it’s no surprise Birmingham is home to Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. This three-story museum features more than 6,000 pieces of sports memorabilia. Members date from 1969 and include all major sports.

Honored inductees have been included from archery and auto racing to baseball, basketball, boxing, diving, football, golf, gymnastics, Paralympics, soccer and many more. Guests are welcome to browse exhibits and learn about great sports figures.

Vulcan Park and Museum

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, has served as a reminder of the city’s origins since the early 1900s. Today, this statue stands as a testament to Birmingham’s growth and future.

Vulcan Park and Museum includes an outdoor park where all ages play. Inside guests tour the Linn-Henley Gallery, which houses traveling exhibits. Once popular exhibit featured a number of soft-drink brands that originated in Birmingham. Other topics include family life in the early days, local history, and Birmingham’s role in historic events.

Interested in learning more? Find more reasons to visit Birmingham. Then ready why Birmingham Zoo ranks among the best in the region.