The 12 best museums in Munich

You could spend your entire visit to Munich exploring its museums and only scratching the surface. Covering everything from cars to contemporary art and of course Oktoberfest, Munich’s museums are great places to learn more about the city, view world-famous paintings or explore the grand halls of an ancient palace.

A good place to start your Munich museum tour is the Kunstareal art district. Located in the student quarter of the city, the district is home to many museums, galleries and academic institutions, and is considered one of the most important cultural centers in Europe.

Here are the must-see museums in Munich.

Visit the ultimate car showroom at the BMW Museum

Best museum for car lovers

A brand synonymous with Munich, BMW has a large site in the north of the city. Visitors can gain insight into the history and workings of the company at the BMW Museum and check out some of the newest – and oldest – models in the ultimate BMW Welt car showroom.

Expect tall futuristic buildings and a bit of a walk to see it all. If you need to refuel, the area has several restaurants, including one of Munich’s most prestigious dining destinations, EssZimmer.

Discover modern masterpieces at the Brandhorst Museum

Covered in 36,000 colorful ceramic rods, the strikingly angular Brandhorst Museum is the hub of contemporary art in Munich. Inside, you’ll find modern masterpieces from the 1960s, including the largest collection of works by Andy Warhol in Europe and more than 170 works by American artist Cy Twombly.

The Brandhorst Museum is also ideal for families, with free activity booklets for children available online and tours designed for those traveling with babies. Kids and adults will love it Ballabenian excellent ice cream parlor located in front of the gallery.

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The Deutsches Museum in Munich is a favorite with kids © PNC / Getty Images

Explore science and technology at the Deutsches Museum

Sitting proudly on an island by the river, the Deutsches Museum is a key landmark in Munich. The museum has 28 permanent exhibits covering all things science and technology, so it’s wise to figure out which ones you want to visit before you go.

The Kinderreich region is very popular with local families. Designed for children ages 3 to 8, this section of the museum inspires young minds with giant building blocks, light-up experiments and many other hands-on learning activities. The affiliated transport museum to the west of the city is also great for kids.

Consider identity and culture at the Jewish Museum

Best Museum for Different Voices

A stand-alone rectangular building with a glazed ground floor, the Jewish Museum in St. James’s Square is hard to miss. Part of the Jüdisches Zentrum (Jewish Center), which also includes the city’s main synagogue and a community center, the museum examines the diversity of Jewish history, identity and culture in Munich. After Berlin, Munich is home to the second largest Jewish population in Germany.

Be inspired by the mountains at the Alpine Museum

Best museum for adventurers

On an island adjacent to the Deutsches Museum is a much smaller institution run by the German Alpine Club (DAV). the Alpine Museum transports your mind to nearby peaks and documents the timeless allure of the mountains. You will soon dream of potential trips.

Temporary exhibitions cover broader topics such as climate change and mass tourism, while the museum’s library and archives are ideal for planning and research. For a moment of tranquility without leaving the city, head to the walled garden, ideally with a café du café, and listen to the flowing river.

A large hall in an art gallery, with several freestanding sculptures based on the human form.  Two people walk through the exhibition space
Pinakothek der Moderne houses the modern art collection of four museums in one place © Atlantide Phototravel / Getty Images

Travel through art history at the Pinakotheken

Best museum for art and design lovers

All located in the Kunstareal, the Pinakothek trio are among Munich’s best-known museums and together cover several centuries and highlights of art history. Head to the Alte Pinakothek for European masters such as Albrecht Dürer and Leonardo da Vinci, the Neue Pinakothek for French Impressionists and Romantic painter Caspar David Friedrich, and the Pinakothek der Moderne for four independent museums – covering design , architecture, art and graphics – all under one roof.

Celebrate graffiti at the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art (MUCA)

Best street art museum

The first museum of its kind in Germany, MUCA is dedicated to urban art. The space is a platform for expert lectures, lectures and films, as well as exhibitions featuring big names such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey. Tucked away on a small side street near Marienplatz, MUCA can be hard to spot – watch out for the black and white exterior created by German street artist Stohead. Once inside, you’ll not only find cool art, but also the Michelin-starred restaurant Wall.

MUCA fans should check out his project KUNSTLABOR 2a new center of art and culture located in former health practices slated for demolition.

Learn and remember at the Munich Documentation Center on the History of National Socialism

Best Modern History Museum

Opened in 2015, the NS Dokuzentrum is defined as a place of education and memory rather than a museum. Built on the site of Brown House, the former Nazi headquarters, the center examines the establishment and rise of National Socialism in Munich. Using a variety of media, the permanent exhibition aims to reflect on the city’s past and answer key questions, while special exhibitions tackle broader topics.

A long, wide hallway with a checkered tiled floor.  The vaulted ceiling is covered with paintings
The ornate Residenzmuseum was a royal residence and the seat of government © Walter Bibikow / Getty Images

Marvel at the riches of the Residenzmuseum

Best museum for large interiors

Giant chandeliers, frescoed walls and elaborate tapestries await you at the Residenzmuseum, the former royal residence in the city center. Germany’s largest city center palace was the seat of government and the residence of the Bavarian dukes, electors and kings until the beginning of the 20th century.

The museum does not offer official tours, but a detailed audio guide is available in several languages. Alternatively, you can simply explore the entire complex, from treasury to theater, from Renaissance to Rococo.

Visit beer exhibits at the Bier- und Oktoberfestmuseum

Best Museum for Snapshots in Munich

Of course, Munich has a beer museum. Housed in an old townhouse dating back to the 14th century, this museum has everything you’d hope for, like a collection of kitsch beer mugs and Oktoberfest memorabilia. After climbing creaky stairs and exploring exhibits in rooms with original wooden beams, you can grab a beer and traditional Bavarian snacks in the museum pub.

See contemporary pieces at Haus der Kunst

Best Museum for International Exhibitions

Built in the 1930s, the neoclassical Haus der Kunst on the southern edge of the Englischer Garten has a dark past. The main art institution of the Nazis, it was used to showcase traditional and classical German artists, while modern works were libelously displayed in a nearby gallery. Today’s focus on contemporary international artists and avant-garde installations provides a striking and deliberate contrast to that era. Don’t miss the elegance gold bar serving cocktails that can be enjoyed on a terrace overlooking the park.

Admire renowned works of art at Lenbachhaus

Best Museum for German Expressionists

Lenbachhaus is known for its collection of works by the expressionist group Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider). Founded in Munich by Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc in the early 20th century, the group was one of Germany’s most important avant-garde movements. The museum is housed in a large Tuscan-style villa with an eye-catching modern wing designed by architect Norman Foster. Both are yellow. It is in the latter that the museum restaurant is also located. SHE.

Overview of Munich, Bavaria and the Black Forest

Tips for visiting museums in Munich

The long night of museums in Munich

Every October, many museums in Munich stay open late into the night as part of Lange Nacht der Münchner Museen. Night owls can visit a huge selection of venues and take part in special events, guided tours and installations.

Munich city map

If you plan to visit a lot of museums, the Munich city map could be a profitable option. After paying in advance, you can enter around 45 museums for free. You can buy the card for different numbers of days, with or without public transport included.

1€ on Sunday

Many museums in Munich only charge €1 to visit on Sundays, and some museums are always free. If you only want to spend one day visiting the museums, it might be better to opt for Sunday and not use the Munich City Card. Other places, like Haus der Kunst, have late-night openings midweek with reduced prices or free entry. Check online for a full list of all discounts and offers.

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