Although it is often overshadowed by cultural facilities such as the Kyushu National Museum in Dazaifu and the Fukuoka Art Museum in Ohori Park, the Fukuoka City Museum provides a unique and detailed look at the long history of Fukuoka, one of the first areas to be settled in Japan. The well-designed regular exhibit can be viewed in 45-90 minutes (depending on your pace and how many of the videos you watch), meaning the visit won’t turn into a day-long endeavor. Topics include migration from the mainland, early development of settlements in the area, the establishment of the local imperial outpost at Dazaifu (the ancient imperial “capital” of Kyushu), Hakata’s growth as a merchant’s city and neighboring Fukuoka’s development as a castle town under the Kuroda clan, the merging of Hakata and Fukuoka and the new city’s move into the modern age, Fukuoka’s destruction by bombings during World War II, and the current city’s folk culture, and others. Special exhibitions are held regularly, covering history and culture from Japan as well as other countries around the world. And most sections of the exhibitions have good written explanations in English.
The impressive museum building itself, fronted by a large pond and entrance gate, is situated in a beautiful part of the Momochi-hama district near the city library and Fukuoka Tower. You can easily combine a visit to the museum with a day of sightseeing around Momochi.
I personally think this is one of the most worthwhile sightseeing spots to visit in the city. Fukuoka is a fascinating place with a rich history, and a trip to this museum will not only teach you the story of how it grew into the place it has become today, it will also help you enjoy your other sightseeing activities in Fukuoka more fully.
Admission is only 200 yen for adults, 150 yen for high school students, and free for middle-school-aged children and younger — special exhibits cost extra. On Culture Day (November 11), admission to the regular exhibit is free for everyone. The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and until 7:30 p.m. in July and August (excluding Sundays and national holidays). The facilities are closed on Mondays (or the next day if Monday is a national holiday), and from December 28 to January 4 (the New Year’s holiday period). Their English-language website is minimal, but you can view it here for more information.