Ithaca's Most Interesting Museums

Ithaca is well known for its unique museums. In this article, we've listed four of our favorites. If you need more information on what these museums offer, feel free to contact us. We'll be glad to answer any questions you have.

Johnson Museum of Art

  • Address: Cornell University, 114 Central Ave, Ithaca, NY
  • Hours: Wednesday through Sunday, 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. (Closed Monday and Tuesday.)

Located on the Cornell University campus, the Johnson Museum of Art contains over 40,000 works of art in its permanent collection. Artwork includes items from the 15th century to the present. Works include Asian art, European art, African sculptures, contemporary American art, and pre-Columbian sculptures and ceramic pieces. Artists of note that are represented in the permanent collection include Edouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Andy Warhol. The museum also has 22,000 works in its Collection of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs, with works from artists such as Robert Frank and Bernice Abbott.

The actual Johnson Museum of Art building was designed by I. M. Pei, and it is definitely a unique architectural design. Depending on your tastes, it's either a beautiful work or art or an oversized sewing machine. Located on a knoll near the Fall Creek Gorge, the building was specifically designed to avoid obstructing the panoramic view of Cayuga Lake.

Johnson Museum of Art is open to the public Wednesdays through Sundays. Admission is always free. Parking in the museum's parking lot has a three-hour limit, and you have to register when you park there.

Museum of the Earth

  • Address: 1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, NY
  • Hours: Thursday through Monday, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (Closed Tuesday and Wednesday.)

The Museum of the Earth is a natural history museum that houses a variety of earth science displays and exhibits. The museum is associated with Cornell University and is designed to appeal to adults and kids. Permanent exhibits include the skeleton of a North Atlantic right whale; murals representing various time periods in history; and a journey through time, from the Big Bang to the present.

The museum features a number of interactive displays and hands-on exhibits, and plenty of activities come with the price of admission. Examples of activities include fossil identification (The museum has over five million fossils.) , and guided tours through the various exhibitions.


  • Address: 601 1st St, Ithaca, NY
  • Hours: Vary, but usually 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (Closed Monday.)

Ithaca's Sciencenter is a hands-on science museum designed for all ages, but especially appropriate for kids. The museum features over 250 exhibits, various educational programs, and outdoor science park, and a gift shop. It even has an 18-hole miniature golf course. Exhibits are especially popular. They include astronomy, ocean, weather, and live-animal exhibits. And kids will definitely enjoy the outdoor science park, which is actually a group of playground activities related to geology, physics, and engineering.

Admission to the Sciencenter is a minimal charge. Note that the admission fee does not cover miniature golf.

History Center in Tompkins County

  • Address: 110 N Tioga St, Ithaca, NY
  • Hours: Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. (Closed Sunday through Tuesday.)

The History Center in Tompkins County is dedicated to preserving the history of Tompkins County. Here, you'll find information related to local Native American settlements, the beginnings of Ithaca College and Cornell University, and much, much more. Materials include maps and manuscripts, scrapbooks, oral histories, and genealogy files. The center also has over 100,000 historic photographs. Many of these collections are available for you to browse through.

Admission is free, and visits are self-guided. The center's Exhibit Hall does have a limit of 40 guests at a time.

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