10 Best Museum Websites

  • Design

Whenever I get the opportunity to travel, I always make it a point to visit as many cultural landmarks as possible. Sure, I enjoy going to restaurants or exploring parks, but I prefer walking through a museum and being surprised as I turn every corner.

Typically, I don’t visit a museum’s website before attending for much more than an address or opening time, as I like the sense of discovery and surprise of knowing little beforehand. However, I usually deep-dive into the site once I get home. I like to use their sites to see if there is any additional information or details that I may have missed and reminisce about my previous visit.

Obviously, as someone who runs a company that builds websites for a series of arts organizations ourselves, I do have opinions on what makes for a great online experience. I have thoughts on what a good user experience is, how easy it is to discover the right information and how to connect emotionally by being presented with good stories. While museums rely on different solutions and strategies to connect with their audiences through social media, email, or digital advertising, their website is the most important spot for telling rich and engaging stories.

Our list of the Top 10 Museum Websites focuses on the best museums I’ve visited in the last 12 months. Each does a great job of serving their audience, sharing information, and generally offering a good look into what makes them special.

Top 10 Museum Websites

Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR)

Winnipeg, MB

Established in 2008, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR) was the first new national museum since 1967 and the first one located outside of Canada’s National Region. The aim of the museum is to explore the topic of human rights with a focus on, but not an exclusive view, of Canada. The museums want to increase an understanding of human rights and encourage respect for others through reflection and dialogue. The building that houses the CMHR is a very unique structure that adds a lot to the Winnipeg skyline.

The Stories section of the website does a great job at exploring a wide range of topics concerning human rights and offers some rich information around each, presenting multiple perspectives. Dealing with key historical events as well as modern perspectives and interviews, the CMHR manages to fulfill its mission while also dealing with an always evolving landscape.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum

Nashville, TN

During a summer trip last year to Kansas City, St. Louis, and Nashville, I had the opportunity to visit the National Blues Museum and American Jazz Museum. But it was the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and its website that caught my eye. The museum does a great job balancing the historical importance of country music while representing the present, popular artists. With just enough Taylor Swift content to make much of the Plank team happy, it easily appeals to a wide audience.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum website does a really good job of offering a vast and varied online collection of artifacts, artwork, and exhibitions. It allows someone who can’t make it to the museum to get a real sense of the history of country music, its culture, and its place in United States history. The Hatch Show Print section of the museum is also well-represented and a key part of the online shopping experience.

Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago, IL

Undoubtedly one of my favourite places to visit in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago is simply massive. Founded in 1879, its main building is in a Beaux-Arts style, while its modern wing, which opened in 2009, houses its modern and contemporary art collection. With roughly 300,000 works of art in its collection, it focuses on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings as well as American art.

The Art Institute of Chicago’s website mainly serves to inform visitors of the different options available to visit exhibits or events onsite. However, it also offers an online collection of thousands of artwork, writings, and resources. The online resources are a great compliment to the academic programs on offer by the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


San Francisco, CA

Established in 1935, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) was the first museum in California to focus on contemporary and modern art. It’s a landmark building south of Market St. includes over 30,000 different artifacts, as well as a regular rotation of exhibitions and events.

While the SFMOMA website does a great job explaining the different sections of the museum and what you can discover, the Stories section offers some unique narratives and points of view that are rare among museum websites. The Art & Artists section of the website would, at first, seem like a traditional museum online, but the cross-referenced suggestions offer another layer of exploration.

National Museum of African American History and Culture

Washington, DC

As the newest addition to the Smithsonian Institution’s series of sites in the Washington, DC area, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) houses a collection of almost 50,000 objects, exploring the rich history of African American culture. Honouring the community’s important place in United States history, it covers complex topics such as slavery as well as the advances made by the civil rights movement. Exploring African American contributions to politics, sports, arts and entertainment, the NMAAHC honours the key role in shaping American society.

The NMAAHC website does a great job at offering an online experience that complements an in-person visit, while also offering online collections like The Searchable Museum so that some key stories are told in unique ways. Offering learning tools like the North Star section of the website, the curious online visitor can have an experience that is different from but complements an in-person visit.

The British Museum

London, UK

Any visit to London wouldn’t be complete without a visit to The British Museum. With one of the most interesting collections in the world — although it’s worth questioning why some of which hasn’t been returned to the country of origin — one can explore an important part of human history. With the Great Court anchoring the different wings of the museum, one can move through the millions of objects easily. Founded in 1753, it’s one of the oldest and most famous museums in the world.

In addition to offering an extensive online look at its collections and exhibitions, I really appreciated how clear the information is in establishing the in-person experience, what’s available, and how to visit the museum. The Learn section of the site does a great job serving the different educational opportunities offered by the museum, regardless of youth or adult needs.

The Acropolis Museum

Athens, Greece

It was surreal to explore the Parthenon collection in collection, and then step on the actual Acropolis site and visit the accompanying Acropolis Museum. Opening in 2009, the Acropolis Museum contains over 4,000 artifacts from Greece’s Bronze and Byzantine Ages. The collection on display includes items from the Acropolis site, with the aim of displaying the archaeological history of the site.

The Acropolis Museum website has a vast online collection that lets users explore the various objects on display at the museum and get a more detailed view of each item. The Research and Conservation section of the website offers a good look into the efforts of the museum team to protect and preserve the Acropolis artifacts. Hopefully one day, the volume of items in the collection will grow through repatriation efforts.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

Philadelphia, PA

While the Philadelphia Museum of Art is worthy of a visit, given its collection of American, Asian, and European art, most people will want to relive that key moment from the film «Rocky» and race up its steps. Opened to the public in the late 1920s, it’s one of the largest museums in the United States.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s website does a great job of showing what’s currently happening and what’s on display. It also offers users the ability to explore an online collection of over 170,000 objects and learn in more detail about each item. The educational resources are also top notch and offer a lot for educators to use with their students.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

New York City, NY

The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) is one of the world’s largest and most beloved museums. With millions of visitors annually, it is one of New York City’s key landmarks at the eastern edge of Central Park. The Met consists of two sites: The Met Fifth Avenue, which focuses on contemporary art, and The Met Cloisters, which showcases medieval European art and architecture.

The Met website is a great example of how to create a look and feel that represents the feeling of an in-person visit. With great photography and well-framed spots inside and outside of the museum, you get a great sense of what it would be like to experience the Met. The online store is easy to navigate and boasts a really interesting collection of things to buy. Unlike a lot of kitschy museum stores, there is a well-curated selection of items for purchase.

Canadian Museum of History

Gatineau, QC

Located in Gatineau, QC, right across the river from Ottawa, ON, the Canadian Museum of History is one of Canada’s biggest and most famous museums. Founded in 1856 as the Museum of the Geological Survey of Canada, it aims to explore Canada’s stories from a cultural and historical perspective. The museum’s Grand Hall offers a great view of Parliament Hill, and the First Peoples Hall honours the achievements of our Indigenous peoples.

The current website — which is presently undergoing a redesign — does a good job sharing what’s going on at the museum and clearly explains all of the different things currently happening there. While the collection and learning materials on the website are solid, what stands out are its online exhibitions, which explore a lot of unique topics that are relevant parts of the Canadian historical experience.

Final Thoughts

With over 50,00 museums worldwide, deciding which ones have great, useful and interesting websites will obviously be subjective. Since most museum websites also generally have the same features, the key to being a noteworthy and top-quality online resource is to offer something unique, get across what is special about the organization, and connect emotionally with site visitors. Given that I’ve had the opportunity to visit some world-class museums over the past year, it has been easy to pick 10 top-quality websites to showcase.

If you have some favourite museums that you think we should add to this list or future posts, we’d love to hear from you.