How Many Natural History Museums Are in the US?

If you’re interested in natural history and fascinated by the wonders of the natural world, there’s no better place to explore than a natural history museum. But just how many natural history museums are there in the United States? Let’s find out.

The Definition of a Natural History Museum

Before we dive into the numbers, let’s first establish what we mean by “natural history museum.” A natural history museum is a type of museum that typically showcases collections of specimens from the natural world, such as fossils, minerals, plants, animals, and insects. In addition to these collections, many natural history museums also feature exhibits on ecology, geology, anthropology, and other related sciences.

The Number of Natural History Museums in the US

So how many natural history museums are there in the United States? The answer is not straightforward.

There is no definitive list of all the natural history museums in the country. The number varies depending on how you define a “natural history museum” and which sources you consult.

However, according to data compiled by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), there are currently over 300 science and technology centers in the US that include natural history museums as part of their offerings. These institutions range from small community-based organizations to large research-based institutions with extensive collections and cutting-edge research programs.

Some Notable Natural History Museums

While it’s impossible to list every natural history museum in the United States, here are some notable examples:

  • The American Museum of Natural History: Located in New York City, this iconic institution is one of the largest and most prestigious natural history museums in the world.
  • The Field Museum: Located in Chicago, Illinois, this museum boasts an impressive collection of over 40 million specimens.
  • The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History: Located in Washington, D.C., this museum is part of the Smithsonian Institution and features over 145 million specimens and artifacts.
  • The California Academy of Sciences: Located in San Francisco, California, this museum is home to a planetarium, an aquarium, and a rainforest exhibit in addition to its natural history collections.


While there is no definitive answer to how many natural history museums there are in the United States, it’s clear that these institutions play a crucial role in educating the public about the wonders of the natural world. Whether you’re interested in dinosaurs, butterflies, or geology, there’s sure to be a natural history museum near you that will satisfy your curiosity. So why not plan a visit and see what you can discover?