Modena's main museums and galleries are all conveniently housed in the Palazzo dei Musei on the western fringes of the historic centre.

The most interesting, the Galleria Estense features the Este family's collection of northern Italian paintings from late medieval times to the 18th century. There are also some fine Flemish works and a canvas or two by Velázquez, Correggio and El Greco. Downstairs, the Biblioteca Estense holds one of Italy's most valuable collections of books, letters and manuscripts, including the celebrated Bibbia di Borso d'Este, a masterpiece of medieval illustration.

A combined ticket (€4) gives entry to the Museo Archeologico Etnologico and the Museo Civico d'Arte. The former has some well-displayed local finds from Palaeolithic to medieval eras, as well as exhibits from Africa, Asia, Peru and New Guinea. Most interesting among the Museo Civico d'Arte's eclectic collection are the sections devoted to traditional paper-making, textiles and musical instruments.