Fossils and beyond
When most people think of natural history museums, the paleontological powerhouses come to mind: the American Museum of Natural History in New York, the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and Chicago's Field Museum.
But it's also worth seeking out natural history museums that don't enjoy the same international notoriety. Visitors to these natural history museums can learn about the natural world past and present minus the maddening crowds (although we can’t guarantee a field-trip-free experience).
Here, you'll find our top picks of not-super-famous-but-highly-respectable natural history museums in the United States. For each, we've provided information about what you’ll find aside from prehistoric fossils — a crowd-pleasing given at any major natural history museum. All of our picks have paleontological collections, such the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (pictured), but it's worth highlighting what each museum offers for those who couldn't give a toss about T. rex skeletons.
This gallery was originally published in July 2013 and has been updated with new information.