9 Amazing Holiday Displays at Museums and More Fun Places

Season’s Greetings, Hunters

Without fail, the holidays bring out the best in everyone—including the creative people who help make your favorite museums, zoos, and botanical gardens such exciting places to visit. These are just a few of our favorite holiday displays in museums and other institutions around the country.

All Aboard

Tiny trains are big fun during the holiday season, and the New York Botanical Garden puts together a grand show every year. In its 28th year, their holiday train show sends locomotives zooming past more than 175 New York landmarks, from Yankee Stadium to the Freedom Tower.

Capital Display

In Washington D.C., the U.S. Botanic Garden goes all out with Season’s Greenings. Highlights include a 26-foot-tall Christmas tree, a stunning chandelier of poinsettia and hanging plants, and recreations of landmarks and other botanic gardens from all over the country.

Tyrannosaurs and More

Each winter, the American Museum of Natural History decks the halls—or at least a 13-foot tree—with hancrafted origami ornaments. This year’s theme is “T. rex and Friends: History in the Making,” inspired by the museum’s incredible Tyrannosaurus exhibit.

Peace on Earth (and Tree)

Not to be outdone, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston has put up a massive tree festooned in flags from around the world. Joining them are doves made of recycled paper and crafted by MFA staff and volunteers.

Deck the Tiny Halls

The Art Institute of Chicago has once again decorated the wee walls and teeny tableaus of its Thorne Miniature Rooms. The nearly hundred mini rooms showcase centuries of European and American decor with meticulously crafted, itty bitty furniture and fixtures, as well as garlands, angels, candle-lit Christmas trees, and more.

Poinsettias Aplenty

Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, is known for a lot of things, including its palatial setting, its world-class collection, and that infamous art heist. The museum also puts on a lovely garden display every holiday season, showcasing flowering jade trees, silver dusty miller, the green of aloe, and the dark red of amaryllis.

Presepio Perfetto

At Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art, visitors will find a Neapolitan presepio, or Nativity scene, featuring dozens of incredibly detailed figures handcrafted in the 18th Century. Flanking the Nativity are trees covered in decorations inspired by art in the museum and made by the museum’s Women’s Committee.

Lions and Tigers and Lights, Oh My!

The Lincoln Park Zoo’s aptly named ZooLights returns again this year. Featuring a whopping 2.5 million lights, this year’s display is one of Chicago’s best and brightest.

Meanwhile, in the Bronx…

More lights! The Bronx Zoo comes even more alive at the holidays with animal lanterns, animated displays, ice sculptures, performers in costume, and more. And this year’s Holiday Lights are greener than ever, thanks to their increased reliance on efficient LED lighting.

Lead photo by Kon Karampelas on Unsplash