Best art, history and archaeology museums in Amman, Jordan

Amman, Jordan, is a city steeped in rich historical significance and vibrant artistic expression, offering a tapestry of museums that weave together the country’s diverse heritage.

From the acclaimed Jordan Museum to the artistry showcased at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts and the historical narratives housed within the Jordan Archaeological Museum, the city boasts an array of cultural treasures.

Visitors can explore the intriguing displays at the Prophet Muhammad Museum and the Duke’s Diwan, each offering unique perspectives on history and heritage. The Museum of Parliamentary Life presents an insightful journey through Jordan’s political landscape, while the Royal Tank Museum and Royal Automobile Museum delve into the country’s military and automotive legacies.

The Martyrs’ Memorial stands as a testament to valor and sacrifice, while the Jordan Folklore Museum provides a captivating glimpse into the nation’s cultural tapestry.

In this diverse museum landscape, Amman invites visitors on an enriching journey through history, art, and cultural heritage. Apart from museums, Amman has other historic places waiting to be discovered, which you can read about here.

The Jordan Museum

The Jordan Museum
The Jordan Museum

The Jordan Museum, inaugurated in 2014, stands in Amman’s Ras Al-Ein district, showcasing Jordan’s most significant archaeological discoveries. Hosting the renowned Dead Sea Scrolls, notably the Copper Scroll, and the 9000-year-old ʿAin Ghazal statues, among the oldest human sculptures globally, it preserves artifacts from diverse prehistoric Jordanian sites.

Arranged chronologically, the museum’s collections feature lecture halls, outdoor exhibits, a library, a conservation center, and a children’s activity zone. Initiated by a committee led by Queen Rania, it’s the sole Jordanian museum employing modern artifact-preservation technologies.

Previously atop Amman’s Citadel, the Jordan Archaeological Museum was established in 1951 but outgrew its space. The concept of a new, modern museum emerged in 2005. Construction commenced in 2009 under a committee led by Queen Rania, culminating in the museum’s 2014 inauguration, covering an expansive 10,000 square meters.

Nestled in Ras Al-Ein near downtown Amman, it’s within walking distance of key archaeological sites like the Roman theater, Nymphaeum, Amman Citadel, and The Hashemite Plaza, adjacent to the Greater Amman Municipality headquarters.

Treasures within the museum include ancient animal bones dating 1.5 million years, the iconic ʿAin Ghazal statues, segments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, including the significant Copper Scroll, and a reproduction of the Mesha Stele, among others.

These artifacts, spanning millennia, offer insights into ancient civilizations and biblical history, showcasing humanity’s enduring cultural legacy.

The official website of the museum: https://www.jordanmuseum.jo/en

The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts

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The Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts (JNGFA) stands as a prominent hub for contemporary art in Amman. Established in 1980 by the Royal Society of Fine Arts, its inauguration, graced by the late King Hussein and Queen Noor Al Hussein, marked the genesis of an institution now holding a permanent collection exceeding 2,000 pieces.

This collection includes diverse works like paintings, prints, sculptures, photographs, installations, weavings, and ceramics by over 800 artists from 59 countries across Asia and Africa.

The museum’s extensive permanent collection showcases creations from an impressive array of countries, spanning Algeria to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. Its array of artistic expressions captures the essence of global cultures and narratives, offering visitors a visual journey through a spectrum of artistic traditions and innovations.

Renowned for its architectural brilliance, the museum underwent renovations and expansions under architect Mohamed al-Asad, earning the prestigious Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. Comprising three buildings and a garden, it hosts exhibitions, both individual and collective, throughout the year, displaying local and international artists’ works.

With its library housing books and magazines on various art forms, a café overlooking the museum’s garden, and a gift shop, the JNGFA offers a holistic cultural experience. Moreover, the museum’s initiative to foster environmental sustainability with its award-winning garden, utilizing renewable energy and water conservation methods, adds another layer to its significance.

Beyond exhibitions, the JNGFA serves as a cultural center, hosting events like “70 Years of Contemporary Jordanian Art” and outreach programs, including the Mobile Museum project, aimed at spreading artistic awareness across Jordan’s regions. Its factory initiative further fosters young talents, integrating various art forms within the social fabric.

Opening its doors from morning till early evening, except on Fridays and official holidays, the museum stands as a beacon of art appreciation and cultural enrichment, inviting visitors to explore and engage with artistic narratives from around the world.

The Jordan Archaeological Museum

The Jordan Archaeological Museum
The Jordan Archaeological Museum

The Jordan Archaeological Museum, situated within Amman’s Citadel, dates back to 1951. It’s a repository of Jordan’s archaeological treasures spanning from prehistoric eras to the 15th century.

Exhibits, organized chronologically, feature daily life objects like flint, glass, metal, and pottery, alongside ornate items such as jewelry and statues. Notable displays include the ancient ʿAin Ghazal statues and plastered human skulls from Jericho, reflecting some of humanity’s earliest art.

Established atop Citadel Hill in Amman’s heart, the museum boasts a rich history, once housing fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, notably the Copper scroll. These scrolls now find their place in the Jordan Museum, alongside select ʿAin Ghazal statues.

Sitting amidst the Amman Citadel, one of humanity’s oldest inhabited sites, the museum neighbors iconic historic sites—a Roman Temple from the 2nd century and an 8th-century Umayyad palace. Previously, it even had a branch in East Jerusalem before 1967.

The museum’s collections represent diverse periods, from the Paleolithic and Neolithic to the Nabatean, Roman, and Abbasid periods. Each era contributes artifacts, illuminating Jordan’s rich historical tapestry, offering visitors a comprehensive journey through millennia of civilization.

The Prophet Muhammad Museum

The Prophet Muhammad Museum, located in Amman, Jordan, was inaugurated on May 15, 2012, at the King Hussein Mosque in Al Hussein Public Parks, with King Abdullah II officiating. This museum is dedicated to preserving artifacts related to the life of Muhammad.

Among its prized possessions are significant relics attributed to Muhammad, such as a strand of his beard and his historic letter to the Byzantine emperor, advocating for the adoption of Islam.

Additionally, the museum proudly displays a sapling from the tree where Muhammad found rest during his pre-Islamic trading journey to the Levant, situated in the Badia region.

Visitors can explore these artifacts, connecting with pivotal moments in Muhammad’s life. The museum provides a unique opportunity to delve into the historical context surrounding the Prophet, offering insights into his journey and the legacy he left behind.

The Duke’s Diwan

The Duke’s Diwan, situated on King Faisal Street in downtown Amman, doubles as an arts and cultural center and a historic house museum, nestled within one of the city’s oldest structures.

Originally constructed in 1924 as Amman’s inaugural post office, this building wore various hats over the years—housing the Finance Ministry briefly before transforming into the Haifa Hotel from 1948 to 1998.

In 2001, Mamdouh Bisharat, a Jordanian heritage conservationist, leased the building at twice its value, safeguarding it from demolition. He converted it into a Diwan, a space welcoming artists, intellectuals, and poets. The Diwan’s rooms, adorned with antiques, artwork, and vintage furniture, offer a glimpse into Jordanian life in the 20th century.

With roots dating back to Abdul Rahman Madi’s 1924 creation, this residence served as Amman’s inaugural post office before adopting various roles in the city’s evolution. Bisharat’s dedicated preservation efforts, recognized by King Hussein in 1974, earned him the title of the Duke of Mukhaibeh, reflecting his contributions to heritage conservation.

Transforming the building into a welcoming Diwan, Bisharat curated spaces showcasing Jordanian life through the 1900s. Restored furniture from the 1920s, period-specific chairs, a vintage stove, and an antique radio adorn the rooms. Sketches of Amman’s historical ruins and photographs capturing the city’s evolution hang on the walls, narrating its rich history.

Beyond its historical significance, the Diwan serves as a vibrant hub, hosting a spectrum of cultural events—musical performances, art exhibitions, literary gatherings, poetry readings, and theatrical shows.

The Museum of Parliamentary Life

The Museum of Parliamentary Life, under the Jordanian Ministry of Culture, stands as a unique model globally, spotlighting the Hashemite leadership’s historical contributions in nurturing Jordan’s growth and establishment.

Situated in Amman, Jordan’s capital, within Jabal Amman near the first roundabout, the museum resides at the intersection of Islamic Sciences College and Khalil Mutran Street.

Established in 2010, the museum officially opened its doors to the public in April 2016. Its building, initially used for political life from 1992 to 2005 without an official inauguration, has an adjacent structure housing administrative facilities like the library and multipurpose hall.

Once headquarters of the Jordan Media Centre, it was later reclaimed by the Ministry of Culture. Recognizing its significance in Jordan’s political and social narrative, the Ministry began reviving and restoring this historic structure, forming a committee in 2010 for this purpose.

Historically, this building hosted meetings of the Jordanian legislative council in the 1940s and served as the venue for the National Assembly from 1947 to 1978. It notably witnessed the proclamation of Jordan’s independence by King Abdullah I Bin al-Hussein on May 25, 1946, and hosted the oaths of King Talal Bin Abdullah and King Hussein Bin Talal.

Comprising three wings, the central section holds the parliament hall, while the right wing features exhibition halls narrating the story of parliamentary life. The left wing accommodates the offices of the senate head, parliament speaker, and VIP halls.

The Royal Tank Museum

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The Royal Tank Museum, situated in Amman, adjacent to King Abdullah II Park in Al Muqabalain, was inaugurated in 2007 by directive of King Abdullah. Its distinct building, crafted by Zaid Daoud Architects, spans 20,000 sq. m and houses thirteen halls, sequentially displaying hundreds of military artifacts, particularly around 110 historical tanks integral to Jordan’s past conflicts.

Opened ceremoniously on January 29, 2018, under King Abdullah II’s patronage, the museum stands within King Abdullah II Gardens in Amman’s eastern district, proximate to various landmarks like the Jordanian Media City and the South Amman Security Directorate. Accessible via public transport lines 103, 144, and 145, the museum allows photography, necessitating tickets ranging from 2 to 5 dinars.

Designed as a futuristic square fortress, the museum symbolizes the fortitude of tanks, hosting a glass-domed structure adorned with a suspended Cobra attack helicopter. Constructed with diverse materials like metal, woodwork, and fiberglass-reinforced concrete, the building emphasizes sustainability, featuring solar cells for energy, water collection systems, and efficient lighting technology.

The museum’s ground floor houses fourteen interconnected halls, guiding visitors through historical periods like the Great Arab Revolt, World Wars I and II, Jordanian military contributions, and key battles. The first floor encompasses administrative spaces, a library, research centers, and interactive zones for visitors, offering insights into global tank development and Jordan’s military history.

Showcasing sections dedicated to tank evolution in Jordan’s Armed Forces and the global tank development timeline, the museum’s comprehensive displays incorporate models, vehicles, weaponry, and immersive three-dimensional scenes depicting historical battles.

With extensive archives, visual artworks, and multimedia aids, the museum serves as an educational platform, offering a captivating journey through Jordan’s and global military history.

Royal Automobile Museum

The Royal Automobile Museum was founded in 2003 at the behest of King Abdullah. Nestled next to the Al Hussein Public Parks on the Medical City Street, it houses a remarkable collection of Jordan’s vehicles, ranging from those used by Hussein bin Ali in 1916 to contemporary sports cars.

Among its prized possessions is the rover featured in Hollywood’s “The Martian,” filmed against Jordan’s Wadi Rum. This unique exhibit was gifted to Jordan in gratitude for the hospitality extended during the movie’s production.

The museum chronicles a vital part of Jordan’s political history, showcasing vehicles utilized by King Abdullah I and King Abdullah II. Additionally, it features a diverse range of vehicles and motorcycles unrelated to Jordan’s monarchy, including a 19th-century bike, a Bugatti, and other rare cars.

Visitors get a firsthand glimpse into significant events in Jordanian history through video clips, archived photos, and detailed narratives accompanying the displayed automobiles. From King Abdullah I’s daily use cars to King Hussein bin Talal’s personal vehicles, the museum presents an immersive experience, highlighting pivotal moments in their lives.

Key treasures include a convertible 1952 Lincoln Capri used by King Hussein bin Talal during his studies in England and for his coronation in May 1953, representing an essential artifact of Jordan’s royal legacy.

The Martyrs’ Memorial

The Martyrs’ Memorial in Amman, Jordan, established in 1977 at the behest of King Hussein, is a tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for Jordan, dating back to the Great Arab Revolution in 1916, led by King Hussein’s grandfather, Hussein bin Ali.

It houses a rare collection of Jordan’s military artifacts, symbolizing the nation’s history through weapons, attire, and vehicles, situated near the Amman Sport City.

The memorial’s construction was a collaborative effort, showcasing Jordanian engineering and skills. Its front yard, adorned with trees, exhibits military vehicles, cannons, and weapons utilized by the Jordanian army in defense of Palestine and the Arab nation’s causes.

The back yard features a Hawker Hunter warplane from the Royal Jordanian Air Force, renowned for its role in the Battle of Samu in 1966. Its pentagonal shape, embellished with Quranic verses in gold, honors the martyrs and espouses the virtues of sacrifice for God and country.

As a testament to Jordan’s history, the memorial annually draws around 70,000 visitors, including dignitaries, military officials, students, and citizens, showcasing Jordan’s military evolution from the Great Arab Revolution in 1916 to the present day.

The memorial’s three main wings narrate the story of the Great Arab Revolution, the establishment of the Jordanian Army, the kingdom’s independence, and significant political and military events, encompassing battles fought by the Arab army.

The upper area houses the “Tree of Life,” symbolizing peace and eternity, tended by King Abdullah II, and adorned with the names of martyrs, embodying pride in Jordan’s armed forces and their sacrifices throughout the nation’s history.

Jordan Folklore Museum

Jordan Folklore Museum
Jordan Folklore Museum

The Jordan Folklore Museum, situated near the Roman amphitheater in Amman, was founded in 1971. Showcasing Jordan’s cultural heritage from Bedouin desert life to village and town cultures, the museum displays costumes, musical instruments, handicrafts, and mosaics.

Located adjacent to the Roman Theater’s western side, the museum, established by the Department of Antiquities in 1975, aims to preserve and present Jordan’s traditional heritage for educational, cultural, and touristic purposes. Divided into sections representing Bedouin, rural, and urban cultures, the exhibitions span from the 19th to the early 20th century.

The exhibited pieces encompass various regional costumes, household items for food preparation, traditional musical instruments, equestrian tools, and folk industries such as rug weaving, tent-making, and pottery. The museum also boasts imported furniture like shell-inlaid wooden pieces found in local homes.

Arranged in a logical sequence, the exhibitions portray daily life through displayed items, some in cabinets and others outdoors. The museum’s cellar hall recreates desert life and features a small number of shops resembling a flea market, adding depth to the cultural experience offered.

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1 thought on “Best art, history and archaeology museums in Amman, Jordan”

  1. I visited the Archeological Museum last year. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the museum admission was included in the same ticket as the Amman Citadel, offering both experiences without any additional entry fees. Reading here reminded me of my good time here, and I plan to return to Amman in a few years.

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