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6 Great Museums in Charlottesville VA

We know that spring showers are supposed to bring flowers, but what can you do while it’s showering? We have put together a guide to 6 great museums in Charlottesville, VA. That way, after a restorative night’s sleep at the Foxfield Inn, followed by a scrumptious breakfast that delights eyes as well as the tastebuds, our guide can be your plan for the day.

Do you think museums are boring? Studies have shown that traditional museums may FEEL that way because your mind is being bombarded with so much information, that it becomes overwhelming. However, the best modern museums have found ways to make the exhibits more relatable, either with hands-on features, or engaging stories.

We are featuring multiple types of museums, including art, history, and science. That way you can choose what interests you most! We are purposely NOT including the historic homes in the Charlottesville area, many of which have separate museum areas. We have previously covered those in detail.


Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art of University of Virginia

400 Worrell Dr, Charlottesville
Hours: Tuesdays – Sundays 10 am-4 pm (reservations not required, but encouraged)

The Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal Art Museum is the only museum outside of Australia dedicated to the exhibition and study of Indigenous Australian art and the largest collection of aboriginal art in the United States. While part of the collection was amassed by John Kluge, through both direct purchase and commissions, Edward L. Ruhe also collected Aboriginal art of the highest quality ever since his stay in Australia as a Visiting Professor. He late acquired Ruhe’s collection and also built a library that includes many rare volumes. Ruhe donated both collections to the University of Virginia in 1997. UVA is helping bring these visually stirring works of art to life by creating residencies for the artists. This enables them to share their visions and history across the community.

Along with the actual artwork, there is considerable space designated for exploration of the history and diversity of the Indigenous Australian people, a participatory art-making space, a touch wall, and an introduction to the concept of the Dreaming, which is central to some Indigenous Australian Art.

Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia

155 Rugby Rd, Charlottesville
Hours: Tuesdays – Thursdays 10 am-5 pm, Fridays 10 am-8 pm, Saturdays 10 am-5 pm, Sundays Noon-5 pm

With nearly 14,000 items in its permanent collection, the Fralin highlights art from ancient times to the modern-day. With 9 current exhibitions, the topics range from video works of alternative futures, early 20th-century photography, and ancient sculptures from Pakistan and Afghanistan. You can plan your visit to include either a tour or a talk to further enhance your understanding of the exhibits.

Jefferson School of African American Heritage

233 4th St NW, 2nd floor, Charlottesville
Hours: Tuesdays – Fridays 10 am-6 pm, Saturdays 10 am-1 pm

The Jefferson School African American American Heritage Center is located in a historic building that formerly housed the first segregated high school in the Charlottesville area. It has a permanent historical exhibit, a rotating art exhibit, and many events that focus on Charlottesville’s African American history and culture.

McGuffey Art Center

201 2nd St NW, Charlottesville
Hours: Tuesdays – Saturdays 10 am-6 pm, Sundays 1 pm – 5 pm

The McGuffey Art Center is housed in a renovated elementary school building. The classrooms were transformed into forty studios, three galleries, and a gift shop (which sells the artists’ work). Many of the studios are open to allow the public to view works in process. There are also some fun hands-on workshops for jewelry forming and torch-firing enamels.

Virginia Discovery Museum

524 E Main St, Charlottesville (East End of the Downtown Mall)
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays 9:30 am-5:00 pm

The Discovery Museum was designed for children, but who wouldn’t like to see a historic Carousel with beautifully restored painted aluminum horses. The Front Gallery has fully interactive exhibits about science, history, and the arts. It also has the Back Gallery, which changes every six months.

Leander McCormick Observatory

600 McCormick Rd, Charlottesville
Hours: First and Third Friday Nights, registration is required to prevent overcrowding 

Would you normally consider an observatory a museum? Why not? Plan for this unique opportunity to see the stars. The Observatory is just reopening in May for the twice-monthly public nights. Visitors can view the stars through the larger and smaller telescopes, tour the Observatory, listen to a presentation, and visit the exhibits.


Are you surprised at the diversity of the 6 great museums in Charlottesville, VA? It’s just one of the many reasons why we love the Charlottesville area! Clearly, you will need more than just a one-night quick getaway to truly appreciate all the history, art, culture, and food that we have to offer. Call us at Foxfield Inn today, and we will help you plan a memorable trip!


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