Guide to Jacksonville’s most 13 fascinating museums: unconventional and sometimes quirky art

February 22nd, 2023 by

Jacksonville’s museums capture the essence of the city’s diverse population as well as its rich cultural heritage But there’s also room to explore the quirky bits of the past like a pirate museum and even a pinball museum. Explore the city’s cultural, scientific, artistic, and historical sites by going to one of the Jacksonville Museums. Check out this list of museums that you should visit in Jacksonville. 


1. Jacksonville’s Museum of Contemporary Art is the place to go (MOCA)

In addition to displaying contemporary works of art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville also contains works of art that were created after the year 1960. It is one of the most extensive contemporary art museums in the southeastern United States and features works by artists from all over the world, as well as those from the region. The permanent collection galleries take up the majority of the museum’s space and feature the artwork of a variety of contemporary artists such as Joan Mitchell, Hans Hoffman, and James Rosenquist, amongst others. Printmaking, painting, photography, and sculpture are some of the mediums represented in the Museum of Contemporary Art’s collection. 


2. Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens

 In 1958, the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens opened its doors in the historic Riverside neighborhood, where it has remained a popular destination ever since it was first established. It is the largest museum of fine arts in Northeast Florida and contains more than 5,000 works of art in its collection. The art collection includes both ancient pieces (some of which are older than 400 years) and more contemporary pieces. 


3. Combined Science and History Museum (MOSH)

The Museum of Science and History, in the heart of Southbank, is responsible for bringing the history of Northeast Florida, which spans thousands of years, to life. In addition, it houses the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium and a number of interactive exhibits. The Florida Naturalist’s Center, Currents of Time, and Atlantic Tails are some of the other exhibits that can be seen here. At MOSH, there is something to see and explore for people of all ages and with a wide variety of interests. 


4. The Museum of the History of the South

The Museum of Southern History features exhibits that cover a variety of topics relating to the history of the United States. It begins with the history of Native Americans and continues on to modern times, covering the Civil War, the American Revolution, and more. The original Battle Flag of the 19th Georgia Infantry, as well as some old weapons and a portrait of Thomas Jonathan, are some of the items that are currently on display. If you are traveling to Jacksonville and have an interest in history, then this museum is an absolute must-see for you. 


5. Museum and Historical Society of the Mandarin Language

The Mandarin Museum & Historical Society, which can be found in the Walter Jones Historical Park, is dedicated to preserving and presenting the history as well as the culture of the Mandarin community. It achieves this goal by providing compelling programming that educates, inspires, and entertains its audience. In addition to the 1898 St. Joseph’s Mission Schoolhouse for American children, this location also provides a wealth of information regarding the history of the Mandarin language. 


6. Beaches Museum

There is something for everyone at the Beaches Museum, regardless of age or area of interest. The museum features an extensive collection of fascinating artifacts and artifacts relating to the region’s history and culture. This museum is a great place to visit if you are interested in learning more about the beach communities of Jacksonville, including their history, as well as their present and future. 


7. Mission Statement of Clara White

In the year 1904, the Clara White Mission Museum was established. Clara English White, who had been a slave in the past, was moved to become an advocate for the less fortunate in the LaVilla neighborhood of Jacksonville. The museum honors both Dr. Eartha White, Clara White’s daughter, as well as Clara White herself. It focuses on the lives and careers of the two women, as well as the impact that each has had on the community of Jacksonville. 

  best museum visit jacksonville

Photo credit: Ritz Theatre

8. Ritz Theatre and Museum

It is widely acknowledged throughout the state of Florida that the Ritz Theatre and Museum serves as the “center for African American culture and heritage.” The museum, which is found in the LaVilla neighborhood, is home to a comprehensive collection of African American history as well as a theater that presents unique events on a weekly basis. 


9. Jacksonville Fire Museum

Visit the Jacksonville Fire Museum to gain additional knowledge regarding the city of Jacksonville’s Fire and Rescue Department. Visitors are given an educational opportunity that bridges the gap between the past and the present at the museum. It is also the perfect location for those who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the history of the city, as it houses a number of historically significant artifacts. 


10. St. Augustine Shipwreck Museum & Gallery

shipwreck museum best jacksonville

Photo credit: Shipwreck Museum

Intrigued by pirates? Then you will probably have a good time at the St. Augustine Shipwreck Museum & Gallery. Exhibits relating to the maritime shipwreck history of Florida, the Caribbean, and the world are preserved in this museum. You will come across some of the most interesting and well-known maritime misadventures and wrecks in the world. It is home to artifacts from all over the world, including those from the R.M.S. Titanic, the S.S. Central America, and the Nuestra Senora de Atocha. Some of these artifacts come from the coast of Florida. 


11. Pinball Museum

This might just be the best deal in Jacksonville. The museum has pinball machines not only on display (because that wouldn’t be any fun) but pinball machines you can actually play. For just $14 per day you can play your heart out!  


12. West Nassau Museum of History

Train lovers need to pay a visit to this museum located about  20 miles from Jacksonville Located in Callahan, Florida, the West Nassau Museum of History features a model train that runs around the outside. There is no charge to visit the museum.  

13. Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve 

Okay so maybe not technically a museum, but fascinating, nonetheless. The Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve is the kind of place that would be ideal for people who enjoy spending time in the great outdoors. You will have the opportunity to investigate the historic locations located within the preserve. Hiking along one of the trails is another option that is available to you. You won’t just be taking a stroll through the forest when you visit the historic sites and trails; instead, you’ll be able to pick up interesting tidbits of information along the way. You have the option of walking through the Kingsley Plantation or hiking through some of the less visited sites, such as the foundation of Willie Browne’s home. Willie was the very last private owner of the Theodore Roosevelt section of the nature preserve. 


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