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National Gallery of Victoria street view

15 Best Museums in Melbourne


Melbourne, the official culture capital of Oz, certainly packs a punch with its museum scene. Into art? Science? Sports? Cars? Dark history? There’s a Melbourne museum that’s sure to tickle your fancy.  Whether you’re a first-time visitor to this vibrant city or a Melbourne local, there’s always a museum or exhibition that’ll make you go “Hmm, never knew that!”

We’ve narrowed down the city’s best museums (and included some honourable mentions because man, Melbourne has a lot of museums). Some museums and exhibitions come with a fee, but some won’t cost you a dime. Bonus! 

Best Museums Melbourne at a Glance

  • Best for art: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Best for sport: Australian Sports Museum
  • Best niche museum: Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
  • Best for science: Scienceworks
  • Best for multiculturalism: Immigration Museum
  • Best museum about Melbourne: Old Melbourne Gaol 

Melbourne’s Best Art Museums

Starting first with two things Melbourne is renowned for, we’re showing off the best museums for art and culture. These institutions range from traditional and historically significant pieces, through to modern interpretations and even a hint of street art thrown in for good measure.

National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) street view
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) | Image: National Gallery of Victoria
  • Address: 180 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne VIC 3006
  • Entry cost: Free entry (but entry fees may apply to special exhibitions)

The National Gallery of Victoria is a leading cultural institution and a serious powerhouse in Melbourne’s art scene. Established in 1861, it’s one of the oldest and one of the most visited art museums in Australia. The NGV is split across two sites: NGV International on St Kilda Road, which houses an extensive collection of international art, and The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia at Federation Square, dedicated exclusively to Australian art. Whether you’re interested in the works of European masters, exploring contemporary art movements, or immersing yourself in Australia’s Indigenous art, the NGV offers a diverse and enriching cultural experience.

Heide Museum of Modern Art outdoor
Heide Museum of Modern Art | Image: Jeremy Weihrauch/Heide Musuem of Modern Art

2. Heide Museum of Modern Art

  • Address: 7 Templestowe Rd, Bulleen VIC 3105
  • Entry cost: $17.00–$22.00

The Heide Museum of Modern Art offers a unique fusion of art, architecture, and nature. Starting as a private home and artist collective of John and Sunday Reed, Heide has evolved into a public museum since its opening in 1981. Spread across several acres, the museum is made up of several buildings, including the original farmhouse, Heide I, the modernist Heide II, and the contemporary Heide III, each offering different exhibition spaces that showcase a mix of modern and contemporary art.

The Johnston Collection museum interior
The Johnston Collection | Image: The Johnston Collection

3. The Johnston Collection 

  • Address: 192 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne VIC 3002
  • Entry cost: $18.00–$27.00

The Johnston Collection is a hidden gem in East Melbourne, offering an intimate peek into a world of fine and decorative arts. Housed in the former residence of antique collector William Johnston, this museum feels more like a treasure trove than a traditional gallery. The collection is super eclectic, ranging from Georgian, Regency, and Louis XV furniture to silver, ceramics, and paintings. It’s a cosy, inspiring spot for those curious about art, history, and the stories objects tell. Perfect for anyone looking to explore art in a more personal, intimate setting.

Melbourne’s Best Creative Museums

Taking a slightly different approach, Melbourne’s creative museums provide a stellar mix of multi-modal art, design and activations for you to enjoy. These venues often have experiences that are aimed at getting you involved and may even include the odd class here and there.

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) exterior street view
Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) | Image: Shannon McGrath/ACMI

4. Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

  • Address: Federation Square, Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
  • Entry cost: Free general entry 

ACMI is the ultimate playground for digital culture and the arts, situated in Melbourne’s Federation Square. It’s a space where film, TV, video games, and digital art collide in the coolest of ways. Dive into the Story of the Moving Image and get hands-on with everything from classic cinema to the latest in VR. ACMI keeps it fresh with ever-changing exhibits and screenings that are both engaging and enlightening.

Scienceworks Electricity, Magnets and Movement show
Scienceworks | Image: Museums Victoria

5. Scienceworks 

  • Address: 2 Booker St, Spotswood VIC 3015
  • Entry cost: $10.00–$15.00

More than just a museum, Scienceworks is an adventure into science and technology. Here, you’re encouraged to touch, play, and experiment, making it a perfect spot for curious minds of all ages. With epic exhibits like the Melbourne Planetarium and the electrifying Lightning Room, it’s all about getting your hands dirty and your mind buzzing. Challenge your mates at Sportsworks and see who’s the ultimate athlete. It’s science made fun, and it’s impossible not to leave smarter than you entered.

Museum Of Australian Photography (MAPh) art gallery interior
Museum Of Australian Photography (MAPh) | Image: Museum Of Australian Photography

6. Museum Of Australian Photography (MAPh)

  • Address: 860 Ferntree Gully Rd, Wheelers Hill VIC 3150
  • Entry cost: Free

For those who live and breathe Instagram, MAPh is your mecca. This is where Australia’s photography game comes to shine, from gritty historical snapshots to the slickest contemporary visuals. Themed exhibits delve deep, telling stories that capture the Aussie spirit through the lens. It’s visual storytelling at its finest.

Niche Melbourne Museums

If your interests skew a little toward the specific, don’t stress. As a hive of multicultural, mixed interest creativity, Melbourne has no shortage of niche museums to check out, catering from the sports lovers to the car fanatics.

Australian Sports Museum interior
Australian Sports Museum | Image: Australian Sports Museum

7. Australian Sports Museum

  • Address: Melbourne Cricket Ground, Yarra Park, Gate 3 Brunton Ave, East Melbourne VIC 3002
  • Entry cost: $15.00–$33.00

Situated inside the iconic MCG, this is not your average sports museum. It’s a tribute to Aussie sports culture, packed with memorabilia, interactive fun, and tales of sporting legends. Test your skills, dive into history, and maybe even find your new sports hero. It’s a celebration of sweat, tears, and triumphs that define the Australian sports scene.

Fox Classic Car Collection Museum interior
Fox Classic Car Collection Museum | Image: Fox Car Collection

8. Fox Classic Car Collection Museum

  • Address: 749-755 Collins St, Docklands VIC 3008
  • Entry cost: $6.50–$16.50

Does a showroom filled with the sleekest, shiniest classic cars you’ve ever seen get your heart racing? Well, you’ll love this museum. The Fox Collection is a dream garage, showcasing everything from vintage Rolls-Royces to badass muscle cars. It’s a walk through automotive history with a side of glitz and engineering marvels. Perfect for those days when you have the need for speed (minus the speeding ticket).

Museums About Melbourne

For a look into the history of the city itself, Melbourne has a number of great museums dedicated to preserving the story behind the Victorian capital. These hotspots provide a rare glimpse into the past, showcasing some of the lesser-known parts of the city’s colonial past, whilst also shedding light on the region’s rich Indigenous and First Nations’ history.

Melbourne Museum interior
Melbourne Museum | Image: Museums Victoria

9. Melbourne Museum

  • Address: 11 Nicholson St, Carlton VIC 3053
  • Entry cost: Free for kids, $15.00 for adults (over 16)

This is not your school’s field trip museum. Melbourne Museum brings the past, present, and future to life in the most vibrant way. From dinosaurs that tower over you to the immersive Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre, it’s a place to explore, learn, and be amazed. The living Forest Gallery and the pulsating Mind and Body Gallery? Just icing on the cake. It’s a cultural feast for the curious at heart, and probably Melbourne’s most iconic museum.

Old Melbourne Gaol museum interior
Old Melbourne Gaol | Image: Old Melbourne Gaol

10. Old Melbourne Gaol

  • Address: 377 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000
  • Entry cost: $22.00–$35.00

Ever wondered what it’d be like to step into a real-life thriller? The Old Melbourne Gaol is as close as it gets, with its storied past of infamous outlaws and dark tales. Night tours and re-enactments bring the spine-chilling stories to life. It’s a glimpse into Melbourne’s darker side that’s both haunting and fascinating.

Melbourne Tram Museum interior
Melbourne Tram Museum | Image: Visit Melbourne

11. Melbourne Tram Museum

  • Address: 8 Wallen Rd, Hawthorn VIC 3122
  • Entry cost: Gold coin donation 

Celebrate Melbourne’s love affair with trams at this dedicated tram museum. It’s a nostalgic ride through the city’s commuting history, showcasing how trams have shaped Melbourne’s lifestyle. From the craftsmanship behind tram building to the evolution of routes, it’s a unique insight into what makes Melbourne, well, Melbourne.

Victoria Police Museum interior
Victoria Police Museum | Image: Victoria Police Museum

12. Victoria Police Museum

  • Address: 313 Spencer St, Docklands VIC 3008
  • Entry cost: Free

Get behind the scenes of crime-solving at the Victoria Police Museum. This place packs a punch with its collection of crime artefacts, tales of notorious criminals, and the evolution of policing. It’s a mix of intrigue, history, and a bit of CSI, making for a gripping visit that’s sure to spark some interesting convos.

Melbourne’s Best Multicultural Museums

For a look at the wider multicultural landscape of Melbourne, the city is also home to many important museums dedicated to culture and heritage. These venues play an important role in preserving the history of the region’s diverse landscape.

Immigration Museum interior
Immigration Museum | Image: James Geer/Museums Victoria

13. Immigration Museum 

  • Address: 400 Flinders St, Melbourne VIC 3000
  • Entry cost: Free for kids, $15.00 for adults (over 16)

Dive into the stories that weave the fabric of Australia at the Immigration Museum. It’s a powerful, moving exploration of the journeys, struggles, and triumphs of those who’ve called Australia home. Through personal narratives and immersive exhibits, it’s a reminder of the diverse, multicultural threads that bind us all. A visit here is a heart-opening experience into what makes Australia truly unique.

Melbourne Holocaust Museum interior
Melbourne Holocaust Museum | Image: Melbourne Holocaust Museum

14. Melbourne Holocaust Museum

  • Address: 13 Selwyn St, Elsternwick VIC 3185
  • Entry cost: $12.00–$18.00

The Melbourne Holocaust Museum is a deeply moving spot that shines a light on a tragic part of history. Created by survivors back in 1984, it remembers the 6 million Jewish lives lost during the Holocaust. With thousands of items and engaging exhibits like “Everybody Had a Name” and “Hidden: Seven Children Saved,” it’s not just a museum—it’s a lesson in courage and hope. Whether you’re learning about the Holocaust for the first time or looking to deepen your understanding, this museum offers a touching and educational experience.

The Islamic Museum of Australia interior
The Islamic Museum of Australia | Image: Visit Melbourne

15. The Islamic Museum of Australia

  • Address: 15A Anderson Rd, Thornbury VIC 3071
  • Entry cost: $10.00–$12.00

The Islamic Museum of Australia, nestled in Thornbury, offers a unique glimpse into Islamic culture’s rich legacy and contemporary contributions. This museum is a truly immersive experience where art and history intertwine. From exquisite Islamic art to thought-provoking exhibitions, it’s a place where the community comes together to celebrate and learn, with programs designed to enlighten young and old alike.

Best Melbourne Museums Honourable Mentions 

Melbourne has a whopping number of museums, so to write about them all would make one lengthy article. Who’s got the time? So, here are some additional Melbourne museums worth checking out! 

  • The Hellenic Museum: This cultural gem offers a fascinating glimpse into Greek history and art. It’s a place where ancient Greece is brought to life right in the heart of Melbourne.
  • The Grainger Museum: Dedicated to the life and works of composer Percy Grainger, this unique museum showcases a range of artifacts, music scores, and instruments. It’s a personal journey through the eyes of a musical pioneer.
  • The Chinese Museum: Explore the rich tapestry of Chinese-Australian history at the Chinese Museum. Spanning five floors, it tells the stories of Chinese immigrants and their profound impact on Australia.
  • The RAAF Museum: Aviation enthusiasts, assemble! The RAAF Museum pays homage to Australia’s Air Force history, with an impressive collection of aircraft and memorabilia. It’s a thrilling look at the skies through the lens of those who’ve served.
  • Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West: This museum offers a unique exploration of the western region of Melbourne, focusing on the environment, culture, and industry. It’s a dynamic snapshot of the area’s evolution and its communities.
  • Charlie’s Auto Museum: Another one for the car buffs! Charlie’s Auto Museum is a paradise of classic and collectible cars, showcasing over 80 stunning vehicles.
  • The Great Aussie Beer Shed & Heritage Farm Museum: This quirky museum is an ode to Australian beer, featuring a vast collection of beer cans, brewery memorabilia, and farming heritage. It’s as Aussie as it gets, tbh.
  • Australian National Surfing Museum: Catch the wave of Australia’s surfing history here. Celebrating the culture, community, and sport of surfing, it’s an immersive journey through the stories of surf legends and the evolution of surfboards.

Why Trust Our List

From the author, Ally Burnie: I’ve spent over 10 years writing about lifestyle, art, and culture. After moving to Melbourne, I’ve thrown myself into exploring this fantastic city. My weekends are all about discovering all the fun things to do in Melbourne – including exploring the eclectic range of museums. This list comes from my own adventures, alongside Google reviews and some thorough online digging to see what museums other people are loving. It’s a mix of personal experience and what everyone else is vibing, making sure you’re getting the best recommendations out there.

Alternatives to Melbourne’s Best Museums

Visited all of Melbourne’s museums and looking for other cool things to do in and around the city? Well, well, well, good thing we’ve got you covered. From dining to coffee, music to other fun things like paintball, here are some of the best things you can do in Melbourne: 

Actually, there’s so much to do in Melbourne we’ve got a whole category dedicated to it! Check it all out here.

Melbourne Museums FAQs

What is the largest museum in Australia?


The largest museum in Australia is the Melbourne Museum, known for its extensive collections and exhibits covering natural history, culture, and science.

Are museums free in Melbourne?


Yes and no. While some, like the National Gallery of Victoria, offer free entry to their permanent collections, others may charge admission fees or have fees for special exhibitions. Always check the specific museum’s website for the most up-to-date information on admission prices

How many museums are there in Melbourne? 


Given Melbourne’s vibrant cultural scene, it’s challenging to pinpoint the exact number of museums. However, a guestimate would place the count at around 30 to 50 museums. This includes bigger and more well-known museums to smaller, specialised museums reflecting the city’s diverse interests in art, history, science, sports, and more. Melbourne’s art scene is constantly evolving, with new exhibitions and spaces opening very regularly, so the number can vary.