The Bham Now Official Guide to Birmingham Museums

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bham now 2022 03 01T104505.708 The Bham Now Official Guide to Birmingham Museums
(Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

Whether you’re an out-of-towner trying to find something to do, or a local looking to learn more about the city, the Bham Now Official Guide to Birmingham Museums is the guide for you.

I recently took a trip to Louisville, KY and spent a day exploring their museums. Of course because I love museums, but mostly because Louisville made it so easy explore their museums.

Along one of the main streets in downtown was something called Museum Row on Main. It consists of 10 museums and attractions all within a walkable distance – four blocks to be exact – and there were incentives to discover each one! There was an easy-to-read map with information about each location, including what you would experience and how much it would cost you. The most exciting part was the supportive community in which it was inviting to go to each and every museum. If you bought a ticket to one attraction, when you head to the next, you get $1 off admission upon showing your receipt. There was also a deal where you could buy a bundle ticket and receive admission to many of the most popular attractions.

Museum Row on Main made it incredibly easy to find all of the information needed in one place. This got me thinking on my way home… What about Birmingham?

I did a little research after my trip and discovered that although all of the information on Birmingham museums is out there to see, it is not all in one place and it takes a very long time to figure out some plans. Until now.

Consider this your official, comprehensive guide to museums in Birmingham. See how many you can hit in one weekend and set your own records. Most of all, have fun and learn something while you’re at it!
I found 21 fantastic museums worth the visit located right here in our history-packed city.

Side note and helpful tip: as most of these museums have street parking, Parkopedia offers a real-time map that shows parking availability along with rates. This is a highly recommended tool to use!

Also, many of these museums offer free or discounted admission for military and family, so be sure to ask!

Now let’s get to the guide. Listed alphabetically.

Abroms // Engel Institute for the Visual Arts @ UAB
Abroms // Engel Visual Arts Institute - Museum Guide
Taken from YouTube – AEIVAuab

The AEIVA houses not only a world-class Contemporary visual arts gallery, but is also an integral part of UAB. Art students are familiar with this building as studios and classes are held here. There are multiple rotating exhibitions all year long, and programming ranges from student exhibitions to internationally recognized artists like Andy Warhol and Yaccov Agam. Check out their event calendar for upcoming events.

Address: 1221 10th Ave S

Type: Art

Hours: Monday-Friday 10AM-6PM | Saturday Noon-6PM

Price: FREE

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street. Various surrounding parking lots (just make sure you have a UAB permit!). Also, the lot behind AEIVA is open to park in during evening events and on the weekend.

Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
Museum Guide - Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame
Photo by Justin Dubois

The Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame is located inside the Carver Theatre in the historic 4th Avenue Business District and honors famed jazz musicians who have ties to the state of Alabama. Not only will you learn the rich history of Alabama jazz music and musicians, but you will develop a new sense of appreciation for this art form through the exhibits of priceless memorabilia and journeying through the timeline of jazz.

Address: 1631 4th Ave N

Type: Music

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5PM

Price: $2 for a self-guided tour / $5 guided

Do they offer guided tours? Yes! Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Fridays from 10AM-2PM.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street.

Alabama Historical Radio Society – Don Kresge Memorial Museum

Taken from Alabama Historical Radio Society website

The Don Kresge Memorial Museum honors its namesake, a retired General Electric engineer, by giving visitors a chance to see and listen to vintage radios in an educational setting. The Alabama Historical Radio Society operates the museum in addition to hosting regular educational and informative meetings for the Society.

Address: 300 18th Street N (inside the Alabama Power building)

Type: Radio

Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30AM-5PM

Price: FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they offer a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street. Free parking in the Alabama Power Visitors’ lot – entrance from 6th Ave N, 7th Ave N, and 18th St N.

Alabama Museum of Health Sciences
alabama museum of health sciences - museum guide

The Alabama Museum of Health Sciences will educate you on the history of medicine on the campus of UAB, which is among the best medical schools in the nation. See various medical instruments equipment, specimens and models on display.

Address: 1700 University Blvd

Type: Health/Medical

Hours: Currently closed for renovations. Historical collections and archives can be found on display on the 3rd floor of Lister Hill Library (same address). Library hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM.

Price: FREE!

Parking: Street. Various nearby decks and lots.

Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Courtesy of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame
Photo courtesy of Alabama Sports Hall of Fame

The Alabama Sports Hall of Fame celebrates the incredible and famed sports history of Alabama. Here, you will learn more about the accomplishments of Alabama athletes and the sports that we love so much to this day. Alabama is the birthplace of 5 of the top 15 greatest athletes of the 20th century, so you can bet that you’ll learn more about those legends.

Address: 2150 Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd N

Type: Sports

Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM

Price: Adults – $5 / Students – $3 / Families – $14

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided. Guided tours require a reservation.

Do they have a virtual tour? No

Parking: Street.

Alabama Theatre

Photo by B. Oglesby

The Alabama Theatre is, quite simply, one of the most gorgeous places there is. It’s a favorite spot throughout the year for many occasions. Classic film series (Christmas is their most popular time of year!), dance recitals, concerts – if it’s a performing art, you can guarantee it will be here. Whether you’re catching a show or taking a tour, this is a place you’ll enjoy. Check out the events calendar here.

Address: 1817 3rd Ave N

Type: Performing Arts

Hours: 1st Wednesday of each month – 11AM-2PM.

Price: $10

Do they offer guided tours? Yes. Tours begin at 11AM & 2PM the first Wednesday of each month. Be aware that the tour includes stairs, and there is no elevator.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Street. Various nearby decks and lots.

Barber Motorsports Museum
Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum museum guide
Photo courtesy of Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum

The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is the world’s largest motorcycle collection – yes, you read that correctly! Of course, you’ll find more than just motorcycles, as seen in the picture above. The Barber Motorsports campus puts on the largest vintage motorcycle event annually (the Vintage Festival), and houses a racetrack used for product debuts, kart racing, driving schools, and safety instruction.

Address: 6030 Barber Motorsports Pkwy

Type: Sports

Hours: October 1st-March-31st: Monday-Saturday 10AM-5PM, Sunday noon-5PM / April 1st-September 30th: Monday-Saturday 10AM-6PM, Sunday noon-6PM

Price: Adults – $15 / Children 4-12 – $10 / Children 3 & under – FREE! (If you choose to visit during a major event weekend, you will need to purchase an event ticket to access the park along with regular admission to the Barber Museum)

Do they offer guided tours? Yes, Fridays and Saturdays at 11AM and Sundays at 1PM. Guided tours are an extra $15.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Free parking on site.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens
birmingham botanical gardens
Photo courtesy of Birmingham Botanical Gardens

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is a lovely place to go for nature lovers. It is the largest living museum in the state, with the scenery to match. The Gardens are a great place to spend a morning or afternoon to relax and you’ll be sure to get some beautiful pictures while you’re here!

Address: 2612 Lane Park Road

Type: Botanical

Hours: Daily from dawn to dusk.

Price: FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided. Group tours are available upon request (10 person minimum).

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Free parking lot.

Birmingham Civil Rights Institute
BCRI The Bham Now Official Guide to Birmingham Museums

The Birmingham Civil Rights Museum takes you through a literal journey of the Civil Rights Movement in such a beautiful way for such a dark time in our nation. You will be taking a step back into history by standing among life size scenes of historical events and encounters. Warning: be prepared for emotions to overcome you.

Address: 520 16th Street N

Type: History

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5PM / Sunday 1-5PM

Price: Adults – $15 / College students (with ID) – $6 / Children grades 4-12 – FREE for Jeff. Co. residents, $5 outside / Children grades 3 & under – FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Street. There is also free parking for cars behind the Institute off of 15st St. N.

Birmingham History Center
birmingham history center - birmingham al
Photo courtesy of Birmingham History Center

Although you cannot physically visit this museum, it is worth including as it preserves the history of our city and will hopefully find a new location soon! In the meantime, check out their website and Facebook pages for updates.

Address: Temporarily closed while searching for a new location.

Type: History

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Birmingham Holocaust Education Center
birmingham holocaust education center
Photo courtesy of Birmingham Holocaust Education Center

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center is dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of local Holocaust survivors and honoring the lives that have been lost. This is another museum that will tug at your heart strings, but is definitely worth the visit.

Address: 2222 Arlington Avenue

Type: History

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10AM-3PM. Prior notice of a visit is greatly appreciated!

Price: FREE! Donations welcome.

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: FREE parking available on site.

Birmingham Museum of Art

Photo courtesy of Birmingham Museum of Art

The Birmingham Museum of Art is a cultural and educational experience that all art lovers will enjoy. With over 26,000 paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, furnishings, and more, your new favorite piece is likely here, waiting to be discovered.

Address: 2000 Rev. Abraham Woods Jr. Blvd

Type: Art

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-5PM / Sunday noon-5PM

Price: FREE! Also, special ticketed exhibitions are sometimes hosted by the Museum, which usually cost around $5 a ticket.

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided. Guided tours must be booked in advance. The BMoA also has a FREE mobile app that offers a guided tour. If you need to, iPads can be checked out at the information desk. Free WiFi also available.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street. Parking in lot behind the museum off of Richard Arrington Jr. Blvd. Additional parking in nearby Boutwell parking deck.

Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum
negro southern league museum
Photo courtesy of Ryan Phillips

The Birmingham Negro Southern League Museum is a fairly new facility in the city with a great location near Regions Field and Railroad Park. This beautifully designed museum takes you through the history of African-American baseball one piece of memorabilia at a time. Learn all about how the League impacted Birmingham and how the athletes transcended barriers to become baseball legends.

Address: 120 16th Street S

Type: Sports/Baseball

Hours: Monday 11AM-5PM / Tuesday 8AM-5PM / Wednesday-Friday 11AM-5PM / Saturday noon-5PM

Price: FREE! Donations welcome.

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided. Guided tours are offered every Tuesday.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street.

Birmingham Zoo
birmingham zoo - birmingham al
Birmingham Zoo via BigPlants

Take the family for an educational day out to learn about all kinds of species. The giraffe, monkey, and Lorikeet Aviary exhibits are the most popular. Take a ride on the train and then catch the live training sessions with lions and/or sea lions! No matter the time of year, you will always have something to look forward to at the Zoo. Spring brings the beautiful wisteria tunnel to life, summer invites everyone to come play, fall brings Boo at the Zoo, and winter is the return of the beloved Zoo Light Safari!

Address: 2630 Cahaba Road

Type: Zoo

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9AM-5PM

Price: Online admission for adults (13+) – $16 plus tax / Online admission for children $11 plus tax / Unlimited train rides – $10 / Single train ride – $2.73 / Exhibit – $10 / Red Diamond online ticket offer through December 31, 2016 = one free adult and one free child admission tickets to the Birmingham Zoo PLUS two free ride tickets with the purchase of a can of specially marked Red Diamond ground coffee! // Half price admission every Tuesday

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Free parking lot.

McWane Science Center
McWane Science Center
Photo by Michael Thomas

McWane is a must for every member of the family. This hands-on science museum has multiple permanent exhibits throughout (including the Weather Lab, World of Water Aquarium, Shark and Ray Touch Tank, Alabama Dinosaurs, Itty Bitty Magic City and more!) in addition to traveling exhibits. McWane is a spacious museum with tons of opportunity to roam and learn about a variety of subjects in a super fun morning or afternoon trip.

Address: 200 19th Street N

Type: Science

Hours: Monday-Friday 9AM-5PM / Saturday 10AM-6PM / Sunday noon-6PM

Price: Adults Adventure Hall only – $13, IMAX only – $9, Combo ticket – $18 / Children 2-12 Adventure Hall only – $9, IMAX only – $8, Combo ticket – $14 / Children 2 & under – FREE

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street. McWane’s parking deck (1800 2nd Ave N) – $5

Rickwood Field
Rickwood Field
Photo by Kevin Reichard

Rickwood Field is the oldest surviving professional ballpark, and you can learn all the history about it and the major and minor leaguers that graced it! Home of the Barons and the legendary Black Barons teams, this stadium was THE place to be for decades. Rickwood Field still holds baseball games today for many teams and organizations. You will feel like you have literally stepped back in time at this incredibly historic site.

Address: 1137 2nd Ave W

Type: Sports/Baseball

Hours: Monday-Friday 8AM-4:30PM

Price: FREE! Donations welcome.

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Lot on site.

Samuel Ullman Museum
Samuel Ullman Museum
Photo courtesy of Ullman Museum

Immigrant. Soldier. Businessman. Progressive activist. Author. Samuel Ullman had many titles, and you can learn about each at his museum – which is located inside the house where he spent his last forty years of life. He migrated to Birmingham in 1884, the early days of the city, and spent the rest of his life making his mark on the communities around him.

Address: 2150 15th Ave S

Type: History

Hours: N/A

Price: FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Visits and tours available upon request.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Free street parking.

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
Photo courtesy of ArchitectureWorks

Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the first black church in Birmingham. It also is the place where, in 1963, four young girls were killed and many more injured by a bomb planted at the church. Located in the Civil Rights District, the church stands as a monument to the strength of the community, and despite the hardships, worship still happens inside these walls today.

Address: 1530 6th Ave N

Type: History

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10AM-3PM / Saturday 10AM-1PM

Price: $5

Do they offer guided tours? Yes, by request in advance.

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Street. Parking is also available in the church parking lot.

Sloss Furnaces
Sloss Furnaces

Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark and used to operate as a blast furnace for nearly a century from 1882 to 1971. Sloss played an important role in industrial innovation, the iron industry, and the industrial revolution as a whole. In addition to Landmark and Museum status, Sloss also houses the Sloss Metal Arts Program where full-time, in-house artists focus on the education and practice of cast and formed metal sculpture art.

Side notes: Although not sponsored by Sloss Furnaces, there are two large and regionally popular events that take place on the site annually: Sloss Fright Furnace – a Halloween haunted house attraction, and Sloss Music & Arts Festival – a 2-day music and lifestyle festival featuring popular and local musical touring acts.

Address: 20 32nd Street N

Type: History

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 10AM-4PM

Price: FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided. Free guided tours are offered on Saturdays at 1PM. (NOTE: All tours are outside)

Do they have a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Free parking on site.

Southern Environmental Center
southern environmental center - birmingham al
EcoScape at the Southern Environmental Center via Facebook

The Southern Environmental Center is located at Birmingham-Southern College and housed in what used to be an indoor pool. The interactive and completely upcycled museum is the largest educational facility of its kind in Alabama, and is dedicated to showing the environmental impact on our local environments. Kids will enjoy sliding down the “sewage pipe”. While there, view the EcoScape garden where the SEC focuses on urban revitalization. The SEC also co-manages Turkey Creek Nature Preserve, where three endangered species of fish call home.

Address: 900 Arkadelphia Rd. Once you get through the gates, turn left and the center will be in front of you.

Type: Environmental/Educational

Hours: Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM

Price: EcoScapes are open to the public. Individual activities and tours are $2 each or $5 for all.

Do they offer guided tours? Yes. Minimum of 10 people.

Do they offer a virtual tour? No.

Parking: Free on campus.

Southern Museum of Flight
Southern Museum of Flight
Courtesy of Southern Museum of Flight

The Southern Museum of Flight is one of the largest aviation museums in the Southeast. You will see aircraft ranging from civilian to military to experimental, along with tons of interesting memorabilia to explore. The Museum is also home to the Alabama Aviation Hall of Fame, so not only will you learn about the aircraft itself, but the people who flew it as well!

Address: 4343 73rd Street N

Type: Aviation

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 9:30AM-4:30PM

Price: Adults – $7 / Seniors & Students – $6 / 3 & under – FREE!

Do they offer guided tours? Self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Free parking lot.

Vulcan Park & Museum
Photo by Kevin Henderson
Photo by Kevin Henderson

That huge man lurking over the city? He’s our friend, and his name is Vulcan!  Take a visit day or night to visit him and you’ll get the most fantastic view of the city – and learn our origins while you’re at it.

Address: 1701 Valley View Dr.

Type: History

Hours: Museum – Monday-Sunday 10AM-6PM / Tower – Monday-Sunday 10AM-10PM

Price: Day (10AM-6PM) Adults – $6, Children 5-12 – $4, 4 & under – FREE! / Evening (6-10PM) All ages 5 & up – $4 / plus tax

Do they offer guided tours? Yes. Guided and self-guided.

Do they have a virtual tour? Yes.

Parking: Free parking lot on site.

Patience Itson
Patience Itson
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