12 of the Coolest Midwest Museums

You’ll find that the coolest museums in the Midwest are filled with an array of exceptional educational, cultural, and artistic opportunities to explore. However, for real treats and truly spectacular sights, stopping by some of the more eccentric and outlandish Midwest museums is the way to go.

America’s heartland is overflowing with small, dedicated museums where topics range from matchstick marvels to the history of psychiatric medicine. Whether you’re hoping to find one-of-a-kind artifacts or learn a bit of local history, these eleven destinations are guaranteed to take your Midwest adventure to the next level.

Museum of Shadows

1110 Douglas Street, Omaha, Nebraska

Considered one of the most haunted museums, the Museum of Shadows is home to the largest collection of verified haunted artifacts. Some artifacts they have are dolls, masks, and marionettes. The museum offers self-guided tours daily for visitors to embark on. Or, If you’re feeling brave, you can take part in numerous haunted events thrown by the museum throughout the year.

The Journey Museum

222 New York Street, Rapid City, South Dakota

The Journey actively showcases humanity’s progression through time, especially from South Dakota’s perspective.This unique museum takes visitors back over 2.5 million years. Rather than focusing on a particular field, The Journey Museum allows guests to explore every aspect of our world. Some fields covered include geology, paleontology and archeology. A one-of-a-kind destination where history comes to life.

The International Vinegar Museum

500 Main Street, Roslyn, South Dakota

Do you consider yourself something of a foodie? Then you need to stop by this unbelievable gastronomic destination. The International Vinegar Museum, unique in its stature worldwide, actively educates guests about every facet of this renowned ingredient. Offering daily museum tours, visitors can take a journey through the history of vinegar before tasting an array of different kinds from around the world. As well, make sure you participate in one of the several exciting cooking demonstrations put on throughout the day, where vinegar is always front and center.

The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame

250 Main Street, Medora, North Dakota

The centerpiece of all things Western Heritage, the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame highlights this extraordinary and unparalleled period in American History. Guests can immerse themselves in this lifestyle of North Dakota’s Native Americans, homesteaders, ranchers, and unbelievable cowboys. Dedicated to preserving these unique cultures and lifestyles, this museum is the perfect way to connect with and understand the region’s complicated past.


2151 CR 59, Alliance, Nebraska

If you’re looking for the perfect place for a photo op, then Carhenge is the stop for you. A quirky and peculiar pop-culture phenomenon, this reimagined interpretation of Stonehenge has become one of the most beloved destinations in the state. Jim Reinders designed Carhenge as an almost exact replica of the magnificent mystical English site. So, with 39 different cars taking up 96 feet in diameter, this jaw-dropping piece of art substantially impacts everyone visiting this sensational Midwest museum.

The SPAM Museum

101 3rd Avenue NE, Austin, Minnesota

Whether you love it or loathe it, there’s no denying that SPAM is a cultural phenomenon. SPAM is a kind of meat mash. It’s not stuff in your in-box. However, this one-of-a-kind culinary destination offers free guided and self-guided tours daily where guests can learn about this unique ingredient’s long and arguably delicious history. Guests can also take some incredible photos in front of numerous SPAM art pieces before hitting up the museum’s wide range of interactive exhibits.

Ed’s Museum

100 S. Gold Street, Wykoff, Minnesota

Originally put together by Ed Krueger, the self-appointed collector of all Wykoff memorabilia, this outstanding and odd museum is the picture-perfect combination of a carefully curated collection and hoarding. Saving whatever came his way, Mr. Krueger ended up amassing an unbelievable accumulation of local artifacts. So, they were eventually turned into this astonishing museum by the Wykoff Progress Club in 1989. Since then, the museum has become something of a cultural jewel, attracting visitors from far and wide hoping to find a bit of classic and iconic Americana.

The National Hobo Museum

51 Main Avenue S, Britt, Iowa

The National Hobo Museum actively preserves the fascinating history of American hobos. For those intrigued by our country’s frequently overlooked history, this unique museum stands as a must-visit. Moreover, the museum proudly displays a vast collection of authentic artifacts, paintings, and memorabilia to recount the tales of these remarkable individuals. Therefore, if you have a passion for diving deep into the stories of these unsung historical figures, you shouldn’t miss this Midwest gem.

The Museum of World Treasures

835 E 1st Street N, Wichita, Kansas

Three fascinating floors of exhibits filled with some of the world’s most amazing artifacts await guests visiting the Museum of World Treasures. Have you ever wanted to see an Egyptian mummy up close and personal? Ha! How about getting a closer look at pieces of the genuine Berlin Wall?

All this and more help make up one of the country’s most exciting and diverse collections. Authentic shrunken heads? Royal Asian artwork? And numerous artifacts from World War II tell their stories as guests wander through this seemingly neverending museum.

The National Mustard Museum

7477 Hubbard Avenue, Middleton, Wisconsin

There’s a museum dedicated to one of America’s favorite condiments. And, I’ll bet you never realized it. Founded and curated by Barry Levenson, it’s home to over 6000 mustard types from all 50 states and more than 70 different countries. If you’re into mustard, it’s one of the most delicious and delightful collections in Wisconsin.

And don’t worry. Guests won’t be leaving this delectable destination empty-handed. The museum shop offers one of the world’s largest selections of mustard. In other words, if you’re into mustard, bring home mouthwatering goodies you won’t find anywhere else.

House on the Rock

5754 State Road 23, Spring Green, Wisconsin

Originally built as a private weekend retreat, this stunning and eccentric home has now become one of the Midwest’s most exquisite and astounding attractions in the Midwest. Home to the world’s largest carousel, the world’s largest collection of miniature doll houses, and an incredible infinity room that extends nearly 220 feet out, overlooking the beautiful and scenic local valley, this exceptional and noteworthy Museum is a trip all on its own.

Buffalo Bill Museum

199 N. Front Street, Le Claire, Iowa 52753

This excellent museum celebrates the life and legacy of William “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Exhibits delve into his renowned Wild West shows, early life in Iowa, and the Mississippi River region’s history. The site also features the Lone Star, a historic wooden-hulled steam-powered towboat.  Plan to be here a few hours!

The Coolest Midwest Museums

The Midwest harbors some of the most captivating small museums in the nation. Each tells a unique story, reflecting the rich tapestry of the Heartland’s history, culture, and innovation. From bustling urban centers to the quiet prairies, these 12 standout institutions invite those journeying across our awesome rolling hills, lakes, and parklands. So, next time you’re on a road trip, make it a point to explore these gems. Immerse yourself in the genuine spirit and legacy of the Midwest.



    • Chris Kane

      Chris Kane is a military veteran and former business owner currently living in the Des Moines, Iowa, metro. Chris is an inveterate entrepreneur and avid web developer who is not shy about sharing his opinions.

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