Museums & Galleries - RI Statewide

If you think of museums as places to look at framed oil paintings against walls, a visit to even a fraction of Rhode Island’s museums will soon get your head spinning – in a good way. Rhode Island has its classic-style art museums – mainly in Providence and Newport, RI – but museums that describe the state’s industrial history, farming history, and naval history are particularly unique. That word – unique – can be applied accurately to the Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark in Pawtucket, RI, where, quite literally, the Industrial Revolution in America began at a textile mill built in 1793 by an Englishman who stole plans for very advanced technology from England. Another special place is the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum, home to the artist who painted the most well-known portrait of George Washington (the property also has a historic snuff mill; snuff was the vape of Stuart’s day).

Other museums tell stories of the early labor movement, of naval history in Newport, and of early yacht building and sailing. The South County Museum encloses a 19-century working farm. You can find the Providence Children’s Museum by the gigantic dragon hovering from the roof, with a welcoming expression. Whew! And, if you have a yen to see framed paintings, Rhode Island has plenty of those, too.

Museums & Galleries in Rhode Island
Warwick Center for the Arts - Warwick, RI
Warwick Center for the Arts

3259 Boston Post Road Warwick, RI, 02886 Phone: 401-737-0010

Arts center, site of former armory, a hub for area artists, performers and their audiences

A welcoming gathering place for artists, artisans and performers and those who appreciate their work, the Warwick Center for the Arts showcases a rotating art exhibit in its main gallery that features the work of emerging and established artists. In addition to exhibits from student art to juried plain-air paintings, the center offers art demonstrations, gallery talks and classes for children and adults. There are two improv club sessions on Friday nights, and cultural experiences include concerts, poetry readings and dance troupe performances. The center’s stately brick building, a National Historic Landmark, is on the former site of a 19th century armory and houses replicas of two Revolutionary War cannons. An annual winter market sells the work of local artists.
Steamship Historical Society - Warwick, RI
Steamship Historical Society of America

2500 Post Road Warwick, RI, 02886 Phone: 401-463-3570

Society celebrates history of steam-powered vessels with artifacts, artwork

At the Steamship Historical Society of America, the world’s leading organization dedicated to preserving and sharing history of steam engine-powered vessels, they would like to take you on a trip through history. Go to the society’s website and enter a virtual museum. Archives go back to 1807 with the first commercially viable American steam engines successfully powered ships and include thousands of photos, ship plans and blueprints, brochures, newspaper clippings, tickets, advertisements, iconic posters, video and audio recordings, ship logs and other amazing artifacts. See the first-class deck plan of the Titanic and a brochure from a cruise down the Amazon. You can visit and see the society’s building and archives by making an appointment through its website.
View from the Cliff - Rough Point Mansion - Newport, RI
Rough Point

680 Bellevue Avenue Newport, RI, 02840 Phone: 401-847-8344

From couture fashion to fine and decorative arts, this museum a treat for those who admire history and art

Featuring fashion and decorative fine arts from around the world collected by heiress and preservationist Doris Duke, Rough Point Museum is a must see. From room to room, from the grand Music Room to state-of-the-art Kitchen to the cozy Pine Room, you will encounter objects from a Tiffany swan centerpiece, portraits by Anthony Van Dyck, gilded Rococo screens, and a Yuan dynasty jar. Yearly special exhibitions highlight the variety of Doris Duke’s interests, from her philanthropy, to preservation, to collecting art and fashion. The mansion’s grounds, designed by the firm of F.L. Olmsted & Co., offer stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Open seasonally March-early January - For information about operating hours please check the Rough Point website.
Clouds Hill Museum Closeup View - Warwick, RI
Warwick Office of Tourism

3275 Post Road Warwick, RI, 02886 Phone:

Warwick showcases its rich history, celebrates the work of area’s many artists

With its rich variety of museums and art galleries, Warwick, RI celebrates its past and looks to its creative future. Today’s art scene is the focus of YJ Contemporary, and the Warwick Center for the Arts features the work of local artists. The Victorian Era comes to life at the magnificent Clouds Hill Victorian House Museum, and visitors who schedule a trip to the Steamship Historical Society of America will feel a new appreciation for the grand age of those vessels. You can also tour Warwick City Hall, built in 1894 and featuring a six-story clock tower. The Warwick Historical Society offers several public open house exhibits and tours where you can step inside the village’s oldest house or ring the bell at the Old School Baptist Meeting House.
Kid Fun, Unique Cuisine, Ocean View - Stay in Warwick, See Rhode Island!
Clouds Hill Museum - Warwick, RI
Clouds Hill Museum

4157 Post Road Warwick, RI, 02886 Phone: 401-884-9490

Gothic Revival home, carriage house, grounds invite visitors to step into 19th century

Built as a wedding present for Elizabeth Ives Slater, the daughter of William Smith Slater, the House at Clouds Hill is the stately centerpiece of the Clouds Hill Museum, where visitors can experience life in the late 19th century. In addition to the Gothic Revival-style home, with its original interiors and furnishings as well as fine porcelain, textile and glass collections, the museum includes a carriage house with over a dozen carriages (including a “gypsy wagon”), and a Center for the Outdoors. The grounds are home to 70 species of trees and shrubs. Call to arrange a tour or check the website for a prescheduled opening. No reservations are required. The home is decorated for the holidays starting in early December.
Art Gallery at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI - Photo Credit PWCVB
Go Providence

1 Sabin Street Providence, RI, 02903 Phone: 401-751-1177

Providence’s many museums open their doors to lovers of art, science, history, nature

From natural history to the history of Rhode Island, the Providence, RI area offers visitors a variety of fascinating museums. At the Museum of Natural History and Planetarium, you can learn about urban wildlife; at the Providence Children’s Museum kids can play in the innovation lab. The John Brown House Museum allows visitors to step into the world of 18th century wealth and power. The Woonsocket Museum of Work & Culture tells the story of immigrants who settled in 19th century mill towns. The Governor Henry Lippit House Museum’s Victorian interior and original furnishings reflect the city’s Golden Age. Art aficionados will appreciate exhibits and programs at the RISD Museum, and Gallery Night on the third Thursday of the month, with a free bus stopping at galleries, art shops and museums. For more info, visit GoProvidence.com
Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and grist mill in RI
Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum

815 Gilbert Stuart Road Saunderstown, RI, 02874 Phone: 401-294-3001

A showplace for reproductions of the works of Gilbert Stuart, one of America’s foremost portrait painters, this home also is an authentically restored and furnished workingman’s home and the site of the first snuff mill in America. The lovely wooded homestead on the banks of the Mattatuxet Brook also features a partially restored grist mill and a fascinating fish ladder. The grist mill houses the original fine-grained granite stones used to grind corn for the famous Rhode Island johnny cakes.
Hours: May- September; limited hours in October; call ahead for days and times.  
Admission: Adults, $10; children age 6-12, $6
Information: www.gilbertstuartmuseum.com
Slater Mill in Pawtucket - Photo Credit RI Commerce Corporation
Old Slater Mill National Historic Landmark

67 Roosevelt Avenue Pawtucket, RI, 02862 Phone: 401-725-8638

Site of several colonial structures, including Slater Mill (1793), birthplace of American industry, the Sylvanus Brown House (1758), and Wilkinson Mill (1810), home to an authentic 19th century machine shop. This rhode Island site also features a eight-ton working water wheel, constructed in 1826, and regular demonstrations of early textile machinery, hand-spinning, and weaving, , making for an interesting place to visit and thing to do especially on your next family vacation.
Hours: Vary seasonally; call ahead.
Admission: Adults age 13-64, $12; seniors over age 64, $10; children age 6-12, $8.50
Coggeshall Farm Museum

Off Route 114 Bristol, RI, 02809 Phone: 401-253-9062

A 35-acre colonial farm, established in 1750. The museum features rare breeds of livestock, a barn, cooling house, blacksmith and springhouse. Open March-September, 10 am-6 pm; October-February, 10 am-5 pm.

Visitors at Naval War College Museum Newport Rhode Island
Naval War College Museum

686 Cushing Road Newport, RI, 02841 Phone: 401-841-4052

Want to learn about naval activities in the Narragansett Bay area in colonial times? Or how the science of naval warfare has changed from the time of the Greeks and Romans through the Civil War, both World Wars to today? Then head to the Naval War College Museum, free and open to the public, where naval battles and strategies come to life via changing art collections, exhibits and documents. Starting Dec. 14, learn about the Navy’s role in World War I from the new exhibit, “To Win or Lose All: William S. Sims and the U.S. Navy in the First World War.”
Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum

390 Summit Road Exeter, RI, 02822 Phone: 401-539-7213

Artifacts and information about local tribes and Native American groups across the country are presented at Rhode Island’s Tomaquag Indian Memorial Museum. Artifacts include an authentic birch bark canoe, a collection of Southern New England ash splint baskets, and a large doll collection.
Hours: Open year-round by appointment only.
South County Museum

115 Anne Hoxsie Lane Narragansett, RI Phone: 401-783-5400

South County Museum is located on a 174-acre park that once was the 68-room summer home of Civil War-era Governor William Sprague. It includes a working 19th-century farm, and its seven exhibition buildings house a working print shop and working blacksmith shop, plus exhibits on farming, home-making, fishing and sailing and other aspects of 19th- and early 20th-century life in southern Rhode Island.
Hours: May, June and September, Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m; July and August, Wednesdays through Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sundays, noon to 4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $5; seniors over age 60, $4; children age 6 to 12, $2.
Information: www.southcountymuseum.org
Museum of Work and Culture

42 South Main Street Woonsocket, RI Phone: 401-769-9675

The Museum of Work and Culture tells the stories of the men, women, and children who came to find a better life in Rhode Island’s mill towns in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The Museum offers visitors an educational experience; exhibits include a farmhouse, mill floor, triple decker, parochial school classroom, and union meeting hall. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible. In 2015 the Museum was named “Best Overlooked Museum” in New England by Yankee Magazine.
Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.; Sunday,1-4 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $8; seniors or students, $6; children under age 10, free.
Information: www.rihs.org/museums/museum-of-work-and-culture/
Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

Tower Street, off Route 136 Bristol, RI, 02809 Phone: 401-863-2065

A part of Brown University, this Rhode Island museum focuses on the arts and culture of Native American, African, Southeast Asian, and Oceanic societies throughout history.
Hours: Year-round, Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; closed Mondays and Brown University holidays.
Admission: Free
Information: www.brown.edu/Facilities/Haffenreffer/
John Brown House Museum

52 Power Street Providence, RI, 02906 Phone: 401-273-7507

One of America's grandest mansions when completed in 1788, the house at 52 Power Street was home first to John Brown, a businessman, patriot, politician, China trade pioneer, and slave trader who participated in the debates and practices that shaped the new nation. Group, school, and special tours are available by appointment when you decide to visit this Rhode Island museum on your next vacation or getaway. .
Hours: December 1-March 31, Friday and Saturday, 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m.; April 1-November 30, Tuesday-Friday, 1:30 and 3 p.m.; Saturdays, 10:30 a.m., noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m.
Admission: Adults, $10; seniors and students, $8; children age 7-17, $6.
Information: rihs.org/museums_jbh.html
Herreshoff Marine Museum and America's Cup Hall of Fame

1 Burnside Street Bristol, RI, 02809 Phone: 401-253-5000

The museum and hall of fame present the story of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and the America's Cup competition. From 1863 to 1945, the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company produced the world's finest yachts on the cutting edge of design and engineering. This Rhode Island museum's collection includes 60 original Herreshoff boats, steam engines, artifacts, and photographs from the Golden Age of Yachting.
Hours: April 26-November 2, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; other times of year by appointment.
Admission: Adults, $10; seniors over age 65, $8; military, $8, youth over age 10, $5.
Information: www.herreshoff.org/
NMAI interior-credit-National-Museum-of-American-Illustration
National Museum of American Illustration and Frederick Law Olmsted Park

Vernon Court at 492 Bellevue Avenue Newport, RI, 02840 Phone: 401-851-8949

This essential American art form is on display at this largest collection original artworks from the Golden Age of American Illustration anywhere in the world. The museum includes artworks by N.C. Wyeth, Maxfield Parrish, Norman Rockwell, and more than 100 other artists. Vernon Court is a furnished 1898 mansion, a unique union of art and architecture, and a national treasure.
Hours: Memorial Day to Labor Day; see website for hours. Open year-round by advance reservation for groups or private tours.
Museum of Art at Rhode Island School of Design

224 Benefit Street and 20 North Main Street Providence, RI, 02903 Phone: 401-454-6500

The exhibits at this Rhode Island museum focus on historic art and design. About 86,000 works of art include items and exhibits from ancient Greece and Rome, 18th-century Europe, ancient Egypt, the Middle Ages and 19th-century American decorative art.
Admission: Adults, $12; seniors over age 62, $10; college students, $5; youth aged 5-18, $3. Free admission third Thursday of the month, 5-9 p.m.; every Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Museum of Natural History and Cormack Planetarium

Roger Williams Park, 1000 Elmwood Avenue Providence, RI, 02907 Phone: 401-680-7221

Rhode Island's only natural history museum and home to the state's only planetarium make this a great place to visit and thing to do, especially on your next family vacation with children. The museum offers regular exhibits, events, and attractions. The Planetarium features a state-of-the-art Zeiss star projector and an enlarged domed ceiling on which the stars are projected. Children under age 4 are not permitted into the planetarium.
Hours: Museum open Friday - Monday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., with last admission at 3:30 p.m. The planetarium is open on Saturdays and Sundays, and the show is at 2 p.m.
Admission: Museum admission is $2 (does not include planetarium; free for members and children under age 4); planetarium tickets are $5 and must be purchased online (ticket sales are final and ticketholders cannot enter the planetarium once the show has begun).
Information: www.providenceri.com/museum.
Museum of Newport History - Newport, RI
Museum of Newport History

127 Thames Street Newport, RI, 02840 Phone: 401-846-0813

The museum offers a overview of Newport, Rhode Island, history with exhibits of decorative arts, artifacts of everyday life, graphics, historic photographs, audio-visual programs, ship models, paintings, Colonial silver, the printing press used by James Franklin, a ball gown worn from the Summer Colony, the figurehead from the yacht Aloha, and more. The museum is a great place to visit and thing to do on your next vacation with children when you are looking for a family activity.
Hours: Open daily 10am - 4pm. A $5 donation is recommended in lieu of admission.