The 10 Best Museums in Durango

Nestled in the heart of the San Juan Mountains, Durango, Colorado, is a treasure trove of culture and history. It’s a place where the past meets the present, and where visitors can immerse themselves in the rich tapestry of the American Southwest. Among its many attractions, Durango boasts an array of museums that are as diverse as they are engaging. Whether you’re a history buff, art enthusiast, or just looking for a unique way to spend the day, these museums offer a glimpse into the soul of this vibrant community.

One of the crown jewels of Durango’s cultural scene is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. It’s not just a museum; it’s a living, chugging testament to the ingenuity of the past. Here, you can marvel at vintage locomotives and delve into the history of railroading in the Wild West. But that’s just the beginning. Let’s embark on a journey through the 10 best museums Durango has to offer, each with its own story to tell.

1. Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum

As you step into the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, you’re transported back to a time when steam-powered giants ruled the rails. The museum is a haven for train enthusiasts, with exhibits that showcase the history of railroading in the region. You can explore actual locomotives, peek into the past with historical photographs, and even take a ride on a vintage train through the breathtaking Colorado landscape.

2. Powerhouse Science Center

For those with a curious mind, the Powerhouse Science Center is a must-visit. This interactive museum makes science fun with hands-on exhibits that cover everything from electricity to space exploration. It’s perfect for families, igniting the spark of discovery in visitors of all ages. The center also houses a maker lab where you can get creative and build your own inventions.

3. Animas Museum

The Animas Museum is a window into the life of early Durango settlers. Housed in a historic school building, the museum’s exhibits include a restored classroom from 1905, Native American artifacts, and displays that tell the story of the region’s mining and ranching heritage. It’s a place where you can truly feel the spirit of the Old West.

4. Durango Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum

Wildlife enthusiasts, rejoice! The Durango Fish Hatchery and Wildlife Museum offers a unique look at Colorado’s aquatic and terrestrial animals. You can learn about fish breeding and even feed the trout in the outdoor raceways. The adjacent museum provides insight into local wildlife, with exhibits that are both educational and engaging.

5. Center of Southwest Studies

Located on the campus of Fort Lewis College, the Center of Southwest Studies is a cultural gem. It features an impressive collection of Native American art, textiles, and historical documents. The center also hosts rotating exhibits that delve into various aspects of Southwestern culture, making each visit a new experience.

6. La Plata County Historical Society Museum

Step into the La Plata County Historical Society Museum and you’ll find yourself surrounded by artifacts that tell the story of Durango’s past. From Victorian-era clothing to mining equipment, the museum provides a comprehensive look at the local history. It’s housed in the historic 1904 Carnegie Library building, adding to its charm.

Art lovers will be drawn to the Toh-Atin Gallery, renowned for its collection of Native American art. Here, you can admire traditional and contemporary pieces, including pottery, jewelry, and Navajo weavings. The gallery not only displays art but also educates visitors about the rich artistic traditions of the region’s indigenous peoples.

8. Durango Arts Center

The Durango Arts Center is the heart of the local arts community. With a gallery, theater, and education center, it’s a hub for creativity. The center showcases works by regional artists and hosts a variety of performances and workshops throughout the year. It’s a place where the arts come alive and where visitors can find inspiration.

9. The Railroad Artifact Preservation Society Museum

For a deeper dive into railroad history, the Railroad Artifact Preservation Society Museum is the ticket. This museum is run by passionate volunteers who preserve and display artifacts related to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It’s a treasure trove of memorabilia that will delight any rail fan.

10. World of Wonder Children’s Museum

Last but not least, the World of Wonder Children’s Museum offers a playful learning environment for young explorers. With exhibits designed to stimulate the imagination and encourage hands-on learning, it’s a place where kids can be kids while discovering the world around them.


  • Are the museums in Durango suitable for children?
    Absolutely! Many of Durango’s museums, like the Powerhouse Science Center and the World of Wonder Children’s Museum, are designed with kids in mind. They offer interactive and educational experiences that are both fun and informative.
  • Do any of the museums offer guided tours?
    Yes, several museums offer guided tours. For example, the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum provides tours that give you an in-depth look at the history of railroading in the area.
  • Can I purchase local art in Durango?
    Certainly! The Toh-Atin Gallery is a great place to buy authentic Native American art. Additionally, the Durango Arts Center often has artwork for Sale by local artists.


In conclusion, Durango’s museums are a testament to the city’s rich cultural heritage and natural beauty. From the chugging locomotives at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum to the artistic wonders at the Toh-Atin Gallery, there’s something for everyone. These institutions not only preserve the past but also inspire future generations. So, if you’re ever in Durango, make sure to carve out some time for these top-notch museums. They’re sure to leave you with a deeper appreciation for this corner of the American Southwest.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, exploring these museums will give you a unique perspective on Durango’s history, art, and science. So go ahead, step into these havens of knowledge and experience the stories they have to tell. Trust me, it’s an adventure you won’t forget!

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