Galveston Museums: Best Places for Art, Culture and History

Galveston, once the largest city in Texas, has a vibrant history that dates the early 1800s. During this time, European settlements were established, and the city grew into a thriving commercial port. Eventually, Galveston became a tourist destination, welcoming thousands to beaches and attractions. However, no matter how popular the area becomes, the city honors its culture and heritage. To get an in-depth look, check out these Galveston museums.

Top Galveston Museums: Where Culture and History Come to Life

galveston museums bryan art history

Photo: The Bryan Museum

The Bryan Museum

Celebrate Texas, the American West and regional Spanish influence at The Bryan Museum. Located in a historic orphan’s home, the museum features permanent and special exhibits in seven galleries. Explore subjects including Spanish Colonial Era, Texas Frontier and Texas Masters, which is dedicated to Texas artists.

First-timers should book a guided tour. Docents lead visitors through the museum and highlight important exhibits from Western settlement to the early 20th century. Tours are offered at two times on Friday and Saturday. Or use the self-guided option. In addition, The Bryan Museum hosts a farmers market, lectures and after-hours events.

Moody Mansion

This home once belonged to the Moody family, who established several businesses in Galveston. Moody Mansion has since been restored and serves as a museum and historical site.

For an admission fee, guests take a self-guided audio tour and visit 20 rooms and the grounds. Each room features the Moody’s furnishings and personal effects. Make sure to visit Mary’s Gallery, which displays treasures Mary Moody Northern brought home from traveling. Other treats include stained-glass windows, elaborate molding and antiques.

galveston childrens museum family vacation

Galveston Children’s Museum

Children love learning and playing. Let them do both at Galveston Children’s Museum. This favorite among the top Galveston museums has exhibits that encourage creativity and education.

Examples include Our Town’s fishing boat, Building Zone’s materials and Now Starring You’s puppet theater. Children can also build, create art and see how physics works. Each section offers interactive exhibits, and there’s a dedicated area for kids 2 to 5 years old. Galveston Children’s Museum is located on the first floor of Moody Mansion and has a different admission fee and schedule.

Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum

Texas has a longtime reputation for oil drilling, and guests can learn about the history and process. Tour Ocean Star Offshore Drilling Rig and Museum for an in-depth look at geological exploration, drilling, and oil and gas production.

The museum sits in a retired jack-up drilling rig. The rig offers three floors of exhibits, including scale models and interactive displays. Tours take about two hours, and guests are welcome to take pictures.

Galveston Railroad Museum

Love trains? Take the group to Galveston Railroad Museum. For over 35 years, the museum has delighted guests with a large collection of dining car china, model railroad layouts and a 1-mile track where visitors ride a caboose.

Exhibits include Santa Fe Warbonnets, passenger cars, locomotives, freight cars and passenger cars. The audio tour takes an hour and visits 22 museum stops. For easy access, the rail yard has sidewalk paths, and guests can even enter rail cars.

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Galveston Naval Museum

Located at The American Undersea Warfare Center, Galveston Naval Museum honors U.S. Navy history. See USS Cavalla and USS Stewart, two historic vessels dating from World War II. USS Cavalla operated as a submarine that sank a Japanese aircraft carrier during Pearl Harbor. USS Stewart remains the only preserved Edsall-class destroyer escort in the U.S.

While exploring Galveston Naval Museum, climb aboard ships, view exhibits and learn about the Navy. While planning, pack a picnic lunch to enjoy outdoors.

Texas Seaport Museum

Texas Seaport Museum houses an 1877 tall ship named Elissa. The ship was built in Aberdeen, Scotland, and transported commercial goods for over 90 years. Today, she offers a glimpse into the historic sailing industry.

Board Elissa’s decks and admire her 19 sails. Imagine her on the water, as she still sails annually during sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico. After visiting the ship, check out the museum and theater. The museum showcases seaborne commerce and immigration, as Galveston is known as the Ellis Island of the West. For added fun, search the commuter database for family members and ancestors.

See these Galveston museums up close with loved ones! Start planning and book a Galveston vacation rental.

Need more things to do? Find more family fun in Galveston.