Sydney is a vibrant city that’s filled with everything from excellent dining to adventures on land and sea. In addition to its wide variety of experiences, Sydney is also home to many world-class museums that reflect its storied past and mixture of cultural influences. You can find museums with featured libraries, natural history artefacts and art ranging from paintings to sculpture.

Take a look at this guide to museums in Sydney to discover the city’s best museums and plan your trip.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia is one of the city’s must-see museums dedicated to living artists. Located on the bank of the picturesque Sydney Harbour, it’s home to a vast collection of both international and Australian masterpieces of painting, sculpture, photography and moving images. It also has a large collection of works from indigenous artists.

The museum holds varying workshops, exhibitions and special showings on a regular basis. Each day, there are programs that promote interest in contemporary art for all ages with creative activities.

There’s also a restaurant in the museum that offers spectacular views of the harbour and the iconic Sydney Opera House.

Sydney Jewish Museum

Established in 1992, the Sydney Jewish Museum houses a spectacular collection of stories and personal memorabilia from Holocaust survivors who arrived in Australia. Some artefacts in the collection include books, journals, audio and videotape recordings, art and literature related to the Holocaust, Judaism and Australian Jewish history.

The purpose of the museum is to educate through history to bring attention to human rights issues, so there’s much more than just memorabilia. The museum routinely holds events like survivor talks, lectures, film screenings, panel discussions and other events relevant to the community.

Powerhouse Museum

The Powerhouse Museum is a fascinating science museum that focuses on technology. It holds a vast collection of exhibits on science, communication, decorative arts, costuming, transport, furniture, computer technology, space technology, media and steam engines. Highlights of the museum include an antique operational rotative steam engine and the first steam locomotive used to travel to New South Wales. There’s also the Strasburg Clock Model, a working model of the famed astronomical clock in the Strasbourg Cathedral in France.

powerhouse museum sydney

Powerhouse Museum, Sydney

The Powerhouse Museum is one of the best museums in Sydney for children, due to its interactive exhibits for all ages. You can also book a guided tour to learn more about the museum’s exhibits from an expert.

Art Gallery of New South Wales

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is one of the best museums in Sydney and one Australia’s most treasured art galleries. The gallery has an extensive collection of modern and contemporary works in stunning open spaces with views of the harbour and surrounding city. The Grand Courts hold a collection of colonial and 19th-century works from European masters and Australian artists, and you can see works from Asian, indigenous and Torres Strait Islander people throughout the gallery.

art gallery of new south wales

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney

The museum has rotating exhibitions that highlight important artists or movements, and you can attend lectures, symposiums, film screenings, musical performances and educational programs throughout the year. Each Wednesday, the gallery is open late for Art After Hours, with a calendar of events that focus on special exhibitions.

Vaucluse House

The Vaucluse House is a heritage-listed home and country estate with a museum. It’s one of the few 19th-century mansions still surrounded by its original woodland and gardens. The museum has been in operation for over a century, showcasing the original 19th-century estate, home, kitchen, stables and buildings on formal gardens. You can tour the home and see an array of period rooms, furnishings and décor, such as Gothic Revival sideboards and cupboards, Italian glazed tiles, carved oak furniture and old master paintings. You can also take a guided tour to learn more about the Wentworth family that once owned the home and life during that time period.

The Rocks Discovery Museum

The Rocks Discovery Museum is a fascinating museum that celebrates the history of The Rocks area of Sydney from pre-European times to the present day. Housed within a restored sandstone warehouse, the museum has a large collection of natural history exhibits, archaeological artefacts and images of The Rocks area, as well as interactive exhibits that are ideal for young children.

The museum one of Sydney’s free museums to visit, and you can explore four permanent exhibitions that cover the Warrane, Colony, Port and Transformations periods.

Australian National Maritime Museum

The Australian National Maritime Museum is located in Darling Harbour and focuses on the relationship between indigenous Australians and the ocean, the ocean as a resource, naval defence and water-based recreation. Highlights of the collection include a replica of the HM Bark Endeavor, the HMAS Vampire destroyer and the HMAS Onslow submarine, all of which can be toured. Other vessels are berthed near the museum for viewing. You’ll also find an array of maritime artefacts, documents and instruments throughout the museum.

national maritime museum

Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney

If you’re planning a trip to Sydney, be sure to take a look at these museums to visit to learn about the unique history and culture in the area. Expedia can help you prepare for your Sydney holiday with great deals on Sydney hotels.