The Best Museums to Visit in Jordan

Jordan Archaeological Museum | © Francisco Anzola/Flickr
Jordan Archaeological Museum | © Francisco Anzola/Flickr
Although the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan was only established in 1921, the country is incredibly rich in history, most of which precedes this time. There is plenty evidence of human life in Transjordan from as early as the Palaeolithic period, and the country has been home to several ancient civilisations such as the Nabateans, Romans and Byzantines, all of whom have scattered traces of their worlds throughout the country. If you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Jordan, then here is a guide to the best museums in the country.

The Jordan Museum

Located in the area of Rasl Ayn in downtown Amman, the Jordan Museum presents the history and cultural heritage of Jordan in an accurate yet intriguing way throughout its galleries. 1.5 million years of Jordanian history and archaeology is housed here, starting from the Palaeolithic age to the modern day. The museum succeeds in telling the story of the small but fascinating country, both chronologically as well as thematically. The galleries are sectioned into themes including the environment, food production, visual arts and architecture, cultural exchange and domestic life throughout the ages. A highlight of this museum is the display of some of the Dead Sea scrolls, including the one and only copper scroll!

The so-called "Dead Sea Scrolls" are a set of ancient Jewish/Biblical documents discovered on the northwest shore of the Dead Sea between 1946 and 1956. Most are in Israel today, but this (and others) are in Jordan since borders have shifted over the years. Written in Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek, mostly on parchment, but with some written on papyrus and even copper, these manuscripts generally date between 150 BC and 70 AD. Many scholars believe therw were buried just before the Romans put down the "Jewish rebellion" that ran from about 67 to 73 AD. The scrolls are traditionally identified with the ancient Jewish sect called the Essenes, but scholars debate that. In fact, many of the scrolls were declared "state secrets" when they were found. It is sort of strange to think that something written over 2,000 years ago could still represent a national security risk today.

The Royal Automobile Museum

The Royal Automobile Museum presents visitors with the story of Jordan in a modern and unique way, through a display of more than 70 classic cars and motorbikes from the personal collection of King Hussein. Vehicles displayed range from glorious pre-1950s models to the modern sports car, and the narrative which accompanies them is of swanky diplomatic visits and Middle Eastern monarchies.

Tiraz: Widad Kawar Home for Arab Dress

A modern, light and beautifully organised museum, Tiraz is home to an extensive collection of Palestinian, Jordanian and Arab dresses and costumes. There is also a small shop in the museum which sells beautiful contemporary pieces with beautiful designs.

The Children’s Museum

The Children’s Museum is a non-profit educational organisation launched by Her Majesty Queen Rania. The museum is located in King Hussein park, and spreads over a whopping 7,000 sq meters in its entirety! Inside the children’s museum you will find over 150 indoor and outdoor exhibits and educational facilities such as the library, tinker lab and art studio.

Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan © Mick/Flickr

The Folklore Museum

Located next to the Roman amphitheatre in downtown Amman, the Jordan Folklore Museum was established in 1971 and showcases a collection of Jordanian and Palestinian heritage items such as costumes, musical instruments, handicrafts and mosaics.

Jordan Archaeological Museum

The Jordan Archeological Museum is located inside the citadel of Amman and presents artefacts from various archeological sites around Jordan, dating from pre-historic times to the 15th-century. The citadel itself is one of the oldest continuously inhabited places in the world, and houses the Roman Temple of Hercules dating back to the 2nd-century as well as the Umayyad Palace from the 8th-century.

Jordan Archaeological Museum © Francisco Anzola/Flickr

Museum of Parliamentary Life

The Museum of Parliamentary life prides itself on being one of the first models of parliamentary museums around the world. It aims to highlight the efforts exerted by the Hashemite leadership over the past decades in establishing and building Jordan.

Jerash Museum

If you’re exploring the ancient city of Jerash in the north of the country don’t forget to stop by in the modest yet interesting museum located just above the forum. The museum houses artefacts ranging from mosaics, glass, gold jewellery and coins found in a tomb near Hadrian’s Arch.

Jerash, Jordan © David Stanley/Flickr

Abu Jaber Museum, al-Salt

The Abu Jaber Museum is a modest but very worthwhile museum located in the city of al-Salt. The museum is located in an old Ottoman house, typical of the architecture in al-Salt. It will take you through the rich history of the city, and it is recommended that you begin your tour of the city here.