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11 Palm Springs Museums That'll Inspire You
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11 Palm Springs Museums That'll Inspire You

You might be surprised to find out how many world-class Palm Springs museums you can visit in the area!

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5 min read

January 17, 2022

Palm Springs is the ultimate glamorous resort destination in Southern California. Ripe with golf courses, luxurious hotels, famous architecture, and plenty of places to shop and dine, this chic desert oasis is a well-known charmer. But what might surprise you is that amidst the glitz and glam, there are unique things to do in Palm Springs, more specifically: an incredible number of impressive museums. Art, architecture, aviation, and even dinosaurs—Palm Springs’ museums are all incredibly inspiring to explore.

Inspiring Palm Springs Museums to Visit Right Away

The Palm Springs Art Museum creates transformative experiences that expand our understanding of ourselves and the world.

1. Palm Springs Art Museum 

The Palm Springs Art Museum (formerly the Palm Springs Desert Museum) is the largest and perhaps most popular cultural institution in the Coachella Valley. With a wide-reaching and growing collection of over 12,000 objects, this awesome Palm Springs museum covers modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design with roots in the area’s unique history, culture, and place. Visit this Palm Springs museum for a transformative experience that’ll expand your understanding of the world through art.

2. Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center

The Architecture and Design Center in Downtown Palm Springs is the local creative hub for design exploration and learning about mid-century modern architecture in California. This Palm Springs architecture museum serves as a research space and an impressive storage area for the museum’s growing archive of design and architecture pieces. The main level of the museum features a Palm Springs art gallery, gift shop, and offices, while the lower level houses a meeting space, study area, an archive and collection space, and a library.

The Palm Springs Air Museum preserves, exhibits, and flies aircraft from World War Two, Korea, and the Vietnam Wars.

3. Palm Springs Air Museum

The Palm Springs Air Museum is a non-profit educational institution with a mission to exhibit, educate, and eternalize the role of pilots and combat aircraft in World War II. More than just a simple airplane museum in Palm Springs, this place features an incredible collection of living history that aims to educate visitors on the importance of preserving American liberties and way of life. Many of the docents operating this Palm Springs aviation museum are veterans, who are open to sharing their experiences and sacrifices for the education of future generations; make sure to ask them any questions you have!

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden

While two of the previously mentioned Palm Springs Art Museum branches are located in Downtown Palm Springs, the third one, a sculpture garden, is situated in Palm Desert. This locale used to be another Palm Springs modern art museum and exhibition space, but is no longer serving as one. Instead, the museum maintains the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden on the grounds adjacent to the ex-museum building. Visit this four-acre garden to see 14 outdoor sculptures and over 60 desert plants free of charge. 

The creation of the Cabazon Dinosaurs began in the 1960s by Knott's Berry Farm sculptor and portrait artist Claude K. Bell.

5. Cabazon Dinosaurs 

You can’t help but smile as you drive past the ginormous Cabazon Dinosaurs on your way to Palm Springs. While it has long been regarded as one of the state’s most iconic roadside attractions, this awesome dinosaur museum in Palm Springs actually offers more to see besides the two dino sculptures. Park your car, get up close to Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex, and tour the grounds and gift shop—this Palm Springs museum is totally worth the stop.

6. Ruddy’s General Store Museum

Easily the most unusual Palm Springs museum on the list, Ruddy’s General Store Museum is a total trip back to the 1930s. As the name suggests, this museum is modeled to replicate a general store and assembled by items belonging to collector Jim Ruddy. In fact, not only is all the packaging displayed inside original, but about 60 percent of the items still hold their original contents. Visit this Palm Springs museum to do a bit of pretend shopping and get ready to feel intense nostalgia for a bygone era.

There are so many experiences to explore at the Children's Museum of the Desert that it's hard to choose where to begin.

7.Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert is a wonderful place where kids and parents can discover, create, explore, and experiment together through hands-on activities. A visit to this Palm Springs children’s museum is educational in many ways—build your own race car, find out how lie detectors work, participate in weekend workshops, and engage in more activities. Encompassing six and a half acres, this super fun Palm Springs museum also offers an outdoor play space and family picnic areas where you can hang out after your tour.

8. Frey House II

Albert Frey, a prominent figure in Palm Springs history, is one of the most influential modern architects of our time. Over the course of a prolific career, Frey produced more than 200 building designs, including notable landmarks like the Palm Springs City Hall and the Aerial Tramway Valley Station. Perched on the hillside on Tahquitz Canyon Way, Frey House ll is the architect’s long-time residence and serves as a Palm Springs museum that gives you a peek into his life.

9. Palm Springs Historical Society

The Palm Springs Historical Society is a non-profit organization that houses and operates two museums and a research center at the Welwood Murray Memorial Library. Established in 1955 by Melba Berry Bennett, the museums call the two oldest buildings in Palm Springs their home. The McCallum Adobe (1884) and the Cornelia White House (1893) host revolving and permanent exhibits, a research center, archives, and a store. Check out these two Palm Springs museums for free and learn about the city’s vibrant past.

The Cabot's Pueblo Museum has much to offer and can be a rich cultural stop on your trip. Jllm06, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

10. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

If you’re up for a very short drive out of the city proper, you’ll encounter one of the coolest Palm Springs museums. The Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs promotes and preserves Cabot Yerxa’s legacy of cultural respect, education, art, and the desert habitat. The Hopi-style pueblo was built by Yerxa himself and contains artworks, artifacts, and memorabilia of early desert homesteader life.

11. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Since day one, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians have called Greater Palm Springs home, and the new Agua Caliente Cultural Museum aims to pay homage to that. Currently in development, the large project will soon feature the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza, The Spa at Séc-he that celebrates the sacred Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, gardens and an oasis trail, and of course, the official museum. Keep an eye out for announcements and you’ll be able to visit this Downtown Palm Springs museum very soon.

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