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Best History Museums in Austin

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This hidden treasure is an offbeat and charming museum of arbitrary collections, including train tokens from all over the world. Sometimes special local events are hosted here as well. The museum is maintained by Jen Hirt and Scott Webel, who run the tours. Be sure to check out the Ephemerata Gardens, and know that the couple keeps cats around the venue.

At Harry Ransom Center you will enjoy viewing the first photograph ever taken, alongside one of only 13 remaining Gutenberg Bibles, created in 1456. Also showcased are rare compositions and manuscripts by Galileo, Beethoven, Hemingway and more. You will find a wonderful collection of theater arts pieces and a book library with over 800,000 priceless manuscripts. Take advantage of the free admission and experience many of the University's unique treasures.

One of the most visited presidential libraries in the nation, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library & Museum is supplied with information regarding one of the most controversial times in United States history. Peeking inside the life of the 36th President, Lyndon Baines Johnson, the LBJ tapes provide listeners the opportunity to learn about former president John F. Kennedy's assassination and the Vietnam War. Along with the famous tapes, visitors can see a to-scale replica of the Oval Office, political memorabilia and more than 39 million pages of historical notes. Plan on a full day at this library and museum, but if you are a real history buff, you will barely scratch the surface of what this fantastic archive has to offer.

A 35-foot (10.7 meters) bronze Lone Star sculpture greets visitors at the entrance of this epic museum. This place narrates the story of Texas, sharing its rich cultural heritage and traditions. The three floors of the impressive building present interactive exhibits, special effects shows and more. On the first floor, you will find a permanent exhibit called Encounters on the Land, which highlights the first meetings between Native Americans and European explorers. The second and third floors have exhibits that showcase the evolution of Texas from the time of its inception. The museum boasts a total of 17 media installations and over 700 artifacts, not to mention Austin's only IMAX Theater.

As the first neighborhood museum in the state dedicated to African American history and culture, this 1926 structure houses various forms of art. The center was once Austin's main library and received a Texas State Historical Marker in 1976. The museum is named in honor of Dr. George Washington Carver, former slave who went on to become a renowned botanist and inventor. The museum exhibits a fantastic collection, as well changing exhibits of black history and culture in Austin and Travis County.

For those interested in dinosaurs and rocks, this is a great museum for you. Texas Memorial Museum focuses on collections of Texas and the New World, including an extensive Texas Natural History collection and core collections from the 1936 Texas Centennial celebrations. There is a huge variety of artifacts supporting historical and anthropological research, including collections amassed by faculty, staff and students. New artifacts are continuously added, so repeat visits are highly recommended. Admission is free.

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