6 Great Museums That Explore Specific Subjects

Museums are rich sources of information, offering memorable learning experiences through interactive exhibits, captivating artwork, group activities, lectures, and more. While many of the largest such institutions are dedicated to art or history in the broadest sense, there are others that focus on narrower subjects, allowing visitors to become immersed in their specific details and walk away with deep, newfound knowledge. In no particular order, this list shares several museums that explore the history of a particular thing, whether it be an object, an animal, or a type of artwork.

The #1 entry is the Mob Museum, located in Downtown Las Vegas. It opened on February 14, 2012, coinciding with the anniversary of the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre in Chicago, during which several members of Bugs Moran's gang were shot and killed by Al Capone's mobsters.

The Mob Museum strives to provide an eye-opening, authentic view of organized crime's impact on the world, and reveal an insider's look at the events and characters of the continuing battle between the mafia and the law. To achieve this, the organization uses multi-sensory exhibits, displays hundreds of artifacts, and shares first-hand stories from the parties involved.

At #2, we present the Clinton, Massachusetts-based Museum of Russian Icons. The organization boasts one of the world's largest collections of sacred paintings used for veneration in the Orthodox tradition. In addition, it serves as a base for research and scholarship through its Center for Icon Studies and other institutional collaborations.

The Museum has a wide range of educational programming. It offers guided tours to school groups and classes, wherein students can learn about the artistic techniques behind the Russian artifacts before trying their hand at painting in a similar style. Members of the Museum's team can also travel to give lectures off-site for groups that request it.

Coming in at #3, we have the Museum of the Dog, operated by the American Kennel Club and located in New York City. The organization exists to preserve, interpret, and celebrate the role of canines in society, and educate the public about the human-dog bond through its collection of art and exhibits.

Among the Museum's features is a touchscreen display that allows visitors to explore various AKC-registered dog breeds. One can learn about their physical features, personality traits, commonly-held jobs, and histories, and find select breeds depicted in the art collection.

Next up, at #4, we present the International Printing Museum. Located in Carson, California, it's devoted to bringing the history of books and printing to life for visitors by providing working demonstrations and theater presentations.

This institution is home to the Ernest A. Lindner Collection, which spans more than 500 years of graphic communication history and includes old hand-lever presses and typesetting machines. In 2017, the Museum acquired what is believed to be one of the oldest surviving Heidelberg Printing Presses, built around 1905.

The #5 entry is the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, home to over 1,600 motorcycles that span over 100 years of production. Many manufacturers are represented, including Harley-Davidson, Honda, Showa, and Cagiva. The Museum was founded by George Barber and is located in Birmingham, Alabama.

In addition to motorcycles, the Museum showcases rare race cars, including the 1964 Ferrari F-158, in which John Surtees won the 1964 Formula 1 Driver's World Championship. Its research library is home to thousands of books and magazines pertaining to motorcycles and other vehicles.

Rounding out our list, at #6, is the Drug Enforcement Administration Museum and Visitors Center, located in Arlington, Virginia. Its goal is to educate the public on the history of drug enforcement in the United States, as well as on the impact of substance addiction from past to present.

The DEA Museum houses a collection of drug paraphernalia gathered over the years, and offers programs and tours for school and community groups. It also has an ongoing lecture series, featuring speakers such as Special Agent Steve Fraga and administrator Peter Bensinger.