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7 Under-the-Radar Museums in Austin

Experience something different in the city that likes to “keep it weird.”

Bridges crossing the river in front of the Austin skyline
Hi, I'm Daniel!

Daniel Modlin is a writer and editor based out of Austin, TX, covering food, travel, and the environment. His work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, WIRED, Architectural Digest, and more. Follow his work on Twitter and Instagram.

Austin is a famously strange town, known to attract all sorts of oddballs and artists. One of the best ways to experience the city like an insider is to swap the big attractions for local gems. From quirky collections of toys and video games to obscure arts and cultural institutions, there’s a museum for just about everything in town. Here are some that should be on your list.

1. Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum

A sculpture at the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum
Check out sculptures by Charles Umlauf.Foto: Faina Gurevich / Shutterstock

Discover a hidden gem in the heart of Zilker.

Hidden in plain sight within one of the city's liveliest neighborhoods, the Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum exhibits work by celebrated American sculptor Charles Umlauf and offers a great place to unwind after an energizing kayak tour of Barton Springs or bike trip around neighboring Zilker Park. The garden is the main attraction, thanks to its manicured flower beds and peaceful places to sit and sketch.

Don’t miss: The gift shop, stocked with curiosities and artworks ideal for take-home souvenirs.

2. Women and Their Work Gallery

The entrance sign to Women and Their Work Gallery in Austin, Texas
Celebrate the work of women artists.Foto: Paul F / Tripadvisor

Immerse yourself in Austin’s rich artistic heritage.

A nonprofit located in East Austin, the Women and Their Work Gallery showcases Austin’s women artists across all mediums. Originally a funding resource, the groundbreaking gallery now hosts visual art exhibitions, creative performances, and educational workshops. As you’re already in the neighborhood, channel your inspiration afterwards at a local art class.

Don’t miss: The frequently updated displays means there’s always something new to see.

3. Museum of the Weird

A quirky display in the Museum of the Weird in Austin, Texas
A museum that strives to keep Austin weird.Foto: jerzzgirl / Tripadvisor

See monsters and mummies and mermaids—oh my!

Austin prides itself on being weird, so naturally the city has its own museum dedicated to all things unusual. The Museum of the Weird is filled with all sorts of oddities, including Fiji mermaids, shrunken heads, and alien exhibits, making it a great place to keep curious kids entertained—or, pay a visit as a warm up for a nighttime tour of the city’s other quirks.

Don’t miss: The Minnesota Iceman, a curious creature encased in ice. No photos allowed!

4. Texas Toy Museum

A display of toy soldiers at the Texas Toy Museum in Austin
A museum for children (or your own inner child).Foto: Texas Toy Museum / Tripadvisor

A treasure trove of childhood memories.

Visiting the Texas Toy Museum in downtown Austin is like stepping into the past. There are pinball machines, vintage game consoles, action figures, and more. Some are for sale, others you can play on. The only problem? You might never want to leave. Thankfully, Austin’s brisket is good enough to pull anyone away from even the most intense game of pinball.

Don’t miss: The old-school arcade, with classic games free to play.

5. Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum

A vintage car at the Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum
See vintage cars and movie props.Foto: J E / Tripadvisor

A must-visit for any auto fanatic.

After igniting a passion for luxury vehicles on a limousine tour of Texas Hill Country, journey deeper into Austin’s car scene at the Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum. The private collection is made up of vintage race cars, movie props, and memorabilia galore. There isn’t much signage, but employees are more than happy to fill you in.

Don’t miss: The museum has limited opening days—visit on the first and third Saturdays of the month.

6. Old Bakery and Emporium

History displays at the Old Bakery and Emporium in Austin, Texas
Learn about Austin's history in a former bakery.Foto: Sylvia DrSoul Fernandez / Tripadvisor

Get a glimpse of Austin’s earlier days.

One of the most overlooked museums in Austin is the Old Bakery and Emporium, formerly the Lundberg Bakery. Dating back to 1876, this limestone landmark close to the Texas Capitol now houses an art gallery, artisan emporium, and visitor center, plus the original brick oven once used to bake tasty treats for the politicians working next door. Combine this hidden gem with a tour of the capitol grounds to learn more about Austin’s history.

Don’t miss: The Lundberg-Maerki Historical Collection, which explores the city’s immigrant history through its links to Sweden, Switzerland, and beyond.

7. Texas Music Museum

A display at the Texas Music Museum in Austin
Explore Texas jazz, country, gospel, and more.Foto: capitollover / Tripadvisor

Discover Austin’s diverse musical output.

No trip to Austin is complete without a dip into the city’s musical heritage—the city didn't earn the nickname of "Live Music Capital of the World" for nothing, after all. Get your fix of live music on a tour of the city’s authentic clubs and venues or make a beeline for the Texas Music Museum, which showcases a diverse range of true Texan musicians, spanning jazz, country, gospel, and more.

Don’t miss: Performances and events take place frequently at the museum; check out the schedule in advance.

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