Museums - Niche

For more eclectic tastes, Nevada’s vast selection of niche museums is just the ticket, with a selection of specialized institutions – some offbeat, some outrageous – that will show visitors a whole new side of Nevada.

Appreciators of the night sky should not miss the Fleischmann Planetarium and Science Center at the University of Nevada,  Reno. With large-format film and star shows in its incredible dome theater and an exhibit hill with fascinating permanent and changing displays, a visit to the planetarium will satisfy even the biggest star fans. Art more your thing? One of the most unusual sculpture parks in the world can be found in Mojave Desert at the Goldwell Open Air Museum. Seven colossal sculptures – everything from a 25-foot pink woman made of cinder blocks to a life-size replica of Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper – dominate the sprawling, eight-acre park, which is open all day, every day, free of charge.

Lovers of all things military will find their appetites sated at both the Historic Wendover Airfield, a nearly complete World War II airbase, and the Hawthorne Ordnance Museum, with its displays and exhibits of ammunition from as far back as the early 20th century. The landlocked Silver State even boasts a maritime museum on the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe, where visitors can learn about the lake’s incredible past.

When only the funky will do, head straight to Las Vegas, home of the world-famous wax museum, Madame Tussauds. Then swing by the Atomic Testing Museum for a thorough and thrilling overview of nuclear testing in southern Nevada. You can also try the Las Vegas Sports Hall of Fame or stroll through the Howard W. Cannon Aviation Museum, unusually situated on a walkway over the baggage claim area at McCarran International Airport.

Clearly, Nevada is a state of eclectic and sometimes outrageous interests. From radio to gambling to stars of both the celestial and wax sort, Nevada’s niche museums are certainly an unusual – and amazing – way to pass an afternoon.