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27 Of The Best Museums In Melbourne And Victoria For 2024

By Amy Kayman

What better time to upgrade on some culture and history and explore what makes Victoria unique. Melbourne newbies can check out the classic Melbourne Museum or locals can head a few hours out to one of the largest surf museums in Australia. Regardless, such interesting niches exist within this state and it would be remiss to not get cracking to at least one museum Melbourne and Victoria have on offer.

In an ode to all things Victoria, Urban List has cultivated a list of the best museums Melbourne/Naarm and Victoria have to offer. One could say, the perfect excuse for an all-Victorian road trip.

The Best Museums in Melbourne 

Melbourne Museum 

11 Nicholson Street, Carlton

Housed on the crest of the CBD in Carlton the Melbourne Museum is an epicentre for history and culture. Taking out the mantle of the largest museum in the Southern hemisphere, the Melbourne Museum has a range of rotating exhibitions from prehistoric dinosaurs, to a journey through the mind, and right down to the origin story of Melbourne. 

Heide Museum of Modern Art 

7 Templestowe Road, Bulleen

Once belonging to avid art enthusiasts, Sunday and John Reed, the Heide Museum of Modern Art is a house-turned-gallery, with a gorgeous sculpture garden adjoining it. Place right alongside the Yarra River, Heide has a collection of over 3600 works of art, and houses a variety of mediums, from sculpture to painting, ceramics to installations. The sheer beauty of the gallery makes it a definite contender for the best museum in Melbourne. 

The Johnston Collection 

192 Wellington Parade, East melbourne

The Johnston Collection is an exhibit of all things fine, in the most literal sense. This exhibition house once belonged to William Robert Johnston, a prominent antique dealer, who bequeathed it to the people of Victoria. The array of English Georgian, Regency and Louis XV artworks fill the townhouse in a tour that sends you back through time, and it’s utter elegance makes it one of the best museums in Melbourne. 

Moorabbin Air Museum

12 First Street, Moorabbin Airport

Whether you’re a fan of planes, or just on your way to the airport, the Australian National Aviation Museum is worth a visit. This museum is stocked with some of the most historically significant aircraft and flying machines in Australia, making it one of the best museums in Melbourne. The museum also offers hands-on exhibits that allow you to experience what it would have been like to get behind some of Australia's earliest aircraft—a testament to how far we’ve come. 


Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne CBD

Dedicated to the craft of the moving image ACMI, which is nestled into Federation Square is one of the best spots in the country for any true-blue cinephile. With frequently changing exhibitions, this space hosts some world-class experiences including full director retrospectives and immersive journeys through film and television. 

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2 Booker Street, Spotswood

Though typically a favourite for the younger demographics, Scienceworks in Spotswood is filled to the brim with scientific and technological gadgets for all ages. Look into the future with the ‘Think Ahead’ exhibition or discover the planetary wonders of the solar system, and yes, you can still try your hand at racing Cathy Freeman, good luck to you though. 

Polly Woodside

2 South Wharft Promenade, South Wharft

The Polly Woodside started off as a cargo ship in the 1880s, shipping coal to and from Australia. Long since retired, this ship stands as a testament to a bygone era and recreates the world and life of a once perilous voyage. Put on your sailor’s cap and jump aboard this immersive nautical experience. 

The Immigration Museum

400 Flinders Street, Melbourne CBD

Melbourne has developed its rich and diverse culture through the decades of migration that have taken place. The Immigration museum in the CBD is a celebration of all the unique stories of the journey that people from all over the world have made. Discover the cultures of all the different nationalities that make the city great through a range of different exhibitions including artwork, contemporary film and more. 

HMAS Castlemaine

Gem Pier, Syme Street, Williamstown

The HMAS Castlemaine is also a retired ship, but unlike Polly has a far darker, more sorted history. Teleport to the seas of World War Two, aboard a vessel forged in one of the most tumultuous eras of our past. And what better way to explore that history than on a ship that was there, perfectly capturing the ironclad spaces and rocky seas.

Shot Tower Museum

211 La Trobe Street, Melbourne CBD

You may be familiar with the Shot Tower—a Melbourne landmark so iconic that Melbourne Central had to be literally built around it—but did you know a museum was hidden within it? Venture up to the second level of the tower to learn about the history of bullet making, the tower dates back to 1889, and you've probably never known its true purpose as you've strolled past on your commute.

Australian Sports Museum

Gate 3 Melbourne Cricket Ground, Brunton Avenue, East Melbourne

Located at the sacred ground of the MCG, the Australian Sports Museum has it all— from giant replica footballs to the history of cricket, to an Olympic gallery where you can discover the history of the greatest athletes to compete on the world stage. The best part about this museum is its interactivity—the space has been transformed into a digital sports ground, allowing you to learn about your body and sport with a hands-on approach, making it one of the best museums in Melbourne.

Melbourne Holocaust Museum

13 Selwyn Street, Elsternwick

Located just outside the city’s center, the Melbourne Holocaust Museum is dedicated to amplifying the voices and honouring the lives of Holocaust survivors. Built by a community of survivors, the permanent exhibition Everybody Had A Name stands as a powerful experience that takes you through the thousands of individual stories starting from life before the war through to the liberation, aftermath of the atrocities and how survivors rebuilt their lives here in Melbourne.

Old Melbourne Gaol

377 Russell Street, Melbourne CBD

Old Melbourne Gaol combines the two greatest things: history and entertainment. Not only will you receive a comprehensive understanding of the Gaol’s past, you’ll also be enthralled by the stories held within this old jail, as your journey through it on the guided ghost tour. If history’s not your thing, plan a Ghost’s Night tour within the walls of this gruesome jail to add an extra element of the supernatural to your night.

Museum Of Australian Photography

860 Ferntree Gully Road, Wheelers Hill

When en route to the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne’s south east, make a pit stop at the Museum of Australian Photography at Wheelers Hill. Once an early homestead is now Australia’s leading public art gallery dedicated to photography and home to over 3860 Australian photographs that champions local and national Aussie artists. Keep an eye on MAPh’s website for the latest exhibit. While you’re visiting, hop over the road for a spot of lunch at The Rogue Squire.

Grainger Museum

13 Royal Parade, Parkville

Editor's note: The Grainger Musem is currently closed to install a new exhibition, reopening early 2024.
Percy Grainger was a bizarre character who, in 1922, decided that his life was interesting enough to warrant an entire museum. Since then he spent much of his life intricately designing a museum to house his life's work and art, plus over 50,000 personal items including letters, clothes, and furniture. The Grainger Museum is a testament to the personality who created it and offers a fascinating look into the mind of one of Australia's great composers. 

Victoria Police Museum

313 Spencer Street, Docklands

If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts, the Victorian Police Museum is not one to miss. This is the best place to get an all-inclusive look into Victoria’s gritty crime history. Whether it’s the largest collection of Kelly Gang armour in the world, Squizzy memorabilia or the actual remains of the car from the Russell Street bombing, this museum is home to a vast collection of the gruesome relics left by some of Victoria’s most notorious criminals. It’s been closed for redevelopment but is opening up early in 2023, so put it in your calendars. 

Melbourne Hellenic Museum 

280 William Street, Melbourne CBD

Filled with Greek mythology Melbourne’s Hellenic Museum is filled with ancient artefacts and intricate depictions of ancient greek gods and battles, all located in the gorgeous Former Mint Building. A true highlight of this museum though is a piece of contemporary art by Sam Jinks called The Messenger Goddess, depicting a hyper-realistic life-sized woman with giant golden wings. This breathtaking piece of art is worth the visit alone.

Centre for Contemporary Photography 

404 George Street, Fitzroy

The Centre for Contemporary Photography is a must-see for any budding photographers and art fans alike. Established in 1986 as a way to support Melbourne’s photography community, this is the best museum in Melbourne to go to if you want to learn about Australia’s storied history with the art form, it features a range of rotating photography-based exhibitions so there’s always something new to experience. 

Fire Services Museum of Victoria

39 Gisborne Street, East Melbourne

Operating out of the former headquarters of the Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade, this award-winning museum is considered to be one of the best museums in Victoria. It houses over 100,000 items of firefighting memorabilia including an original 18th-century fire fighting suit. Most volunteers working at the Fire Services Museum are former firefighters, who can offer stories of their own personal anecdotes and insights on the job. 

Fox Classic Car Collection Museum

749 - 755 Collins Street, Docklands

Located in Docklands precinct the Fox Classic Car Collection Museum, celebrating the most important and influential classic cars in history. This museum’s collection includes a Ferrari F40, a premium 1950s Mercedes Benz, and the world's fastest production car, the Jaguar XJ220. These are the cars that made history and were at the forefront of technological innovation and design in their time. Perfectly maintained, these automobiles are a spectacle in and of themselves.

Melbourne Tram Museum

8 Wallen Road, Hawthorn

Melbourne and trams— name a more iconic duo. Celebrating the love affair between our city and this unexpected mode of transportation is the Melbourne Tram Museum, which is nestled at the end of the tram depot in Hawthorn. This museum houses some seriously iconic trams, from the earliest tram models and sketchings to the vibrantly decorated Z1 81 models used in Melbourne’s 2006 Commonwealth Games. 

Koorie Heritage Trust

Federation Square, Flinders Street, Melbourne CBD

Located in the heart of Federation Square, the Koorie Heritage Trust is a cultural and community centre aimed at celebrating the history, stories and culture of the Koorie peoples. This is the perfect place to learn about the indigenous culture of Victoria and extend your knowledge of the land.

The Best Museums In Victoria 

Charlie’s Auto Museum

175 Purves Road, Arthurs Seat

Set against the stunning bushlands of Arthur’s Seat on the Mornington Peninsula, Charlie’s Auto Museum celebrates all things automobile. From quirky vintage buggies to model cars and paraphernalia. With over 80 unique vintage cars to explore, this is the best museum in Victoria for rev-heads and automotive enthusiasts. 

The Great Aussie Beer Shed & Heritage Farm Museum

377 Mary Ann Road, Echuca

The first thing you’ll see when you get to the Great Aussie Beer Shed is the Big Beer Glass. That should tell you all you need to know about this iconic Victorian institution. Chock full of Australian memorabilia from across the nation’s entire history, some highlights include a restored WW1 cannon, a blacksmith’s workshop and 20,000 beer cans from across history which line the walls of the 5000 square foot shed from floor to ceiling. A true celebration of a cold one. 

National Wool Museum

26 Moorabool Street, Geelong

Australia is no stranger to sheep. The National Wool Museum, right in the heart of ‘the wool capital of the world’, Geelong, takes you on that 200-year ride, showing you how the wool industry has helped shape this country’s history. Take a squizz at one of the world’s largest collections of quilts, or get a pair of socks made on a machine over 100 years old. It’s safe to say this is the world’s best museum to learn about one of the most important materials out there. 

Golden Dragon Museum

1/11 Bridge Street, Bendigo

The Golden Dragon Museum, located in the heart of Bendigo, provides visitors with an amazing opportunity to learn about the Chinese perspective of the gold rush, one of Australia’s most foundational moments. As Australia’s Chinese cultural centre, it also maps the ways in which our two cultures have intertwined over the past 150 years. 

Australian National Surfing Museum

3228/277 Beach Road, Torquay

Come hang ten at the world’s largest surfing museum in Torquay, Australia’s surfing capital. The Australian National Surfing Museum is home to all kinds of surfing artefacts and memorabilia, including over 150 surfboards located in the Board Room, highlighting the history of the surfboard from its slab-like origins to the sleek designs of today. This is the best museum in Victoria to learn about Australia’s favourite pastime and is one of the biggest surf museums in the world.

Looking to get out on the road? There's some more places you should check out:

Image credit: Heide Museum of Modern Art | Supplied

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