The 10 Best Museums In New York City

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New York City is one of the busiest, richest, most diversified, and most interesting cities in the world. There are so many different activities you can do here – from sightseeing to sports events, from shopping to museums, and more. There are more than 80 museums in New York City, some are worldwide famous, and everyone can find their field of interest. Art, Culture, history, food, entertainment, fashion – you name it, NYC has it. In some of them, you can easily spend 3-4 hours, and if you are really dedicated to every hall, it can be even a whole day. Others are smaller, and a short visit will be enough to enrich you.

Visiting the museums of New York City is a great activity for any season. In the winter, they are a good escape from the cold outside, and in the summer, you wouldn’t want to leave the chilled halls. Some of the museums have temporary or seasonal exhibitions, so you can visit them every few months and enjoy new exhibits.

As every visit to New York is time-limited, and you probably won’t spend all day, every day, in the museums of the city, I gathered a list of the ones you don’t want to miss. Here are the best museums in New York City:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

As soon as you arrive at the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, also known as “The Met”, you will be amazed by the impressive building. It really looks like a royal palace, European-style.

The Met is probably the most famous museum in the city, and visiting here is one of the best things to do in New York. it is also the fourth most visited museum in the world and the largest art museum in the United States.

You can see here artworks from different periods in history and different areas in the world. From ancient Egyptian pieces and Roman statues, through medieval Europe, to modern American art. One day might not be enough to see everything, so make sure to get your map in the entrance hall and follow it to your favorite rooms and exhibitions.

Tips

Tip 1: Pay attention to the temporary exhibitions as well. I have seen two amazing exhibitions – one about fashion (following the Met Gala event) and the other one about guitars and the best guitars players in the world.

Tip 2: Take a walk in Central Park behind the museums. It’s a lovely part of the park, where you can see an Egyptian obelisk, the statue of Hamilton, and within a few minutes walk – the charming Belvedere Castle.

How To Get Here?

Address: 1000 5th Ave, New York, NY 10028
Bus: M1, M2, M3, and M4 stop on Madison ave. and 83rd st. – 1 block from the entrance.
Subway: Green lines 4,5,6 to 86th street and 10 minutes walk.

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The Met – best art museums in NYC

American Museum of Natural History

The American Museum of Natural History is another one of the most famous museums in New York. Located in the Upper West Side, it’s entrance is right in front of Central Park. The Statue of President Theodore Roosevelt on a horse welcomes the visitors on their way in to see the famous full-size dinosaur skeletons in the entrance hall.

The museum has 45 permanent exhibition halls, with specimens of animals, plants, fossils, meteorites, human remains, and more. There are also sections presenting cultures from around the world, which are some of my favorites here.

Tip: Watch Night at the museum with Ben Stiller before visiting here. It will add to your visit a different and fun perspective.

How To Get Here?

Address: 200 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024
Bus: M10 stops in front of the museum, M7 /M11 stop on the back.
Subway: B or C lines to 81st Street.

the American Museum of Natural History is one of the fun museums in nyc and best museums for kids nyc
American Museum of Natural History

Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum is a different experience. It was established in 1937 and since 1959 it has been standing in its current location. The museum has undergone renovation and expansion in the 1990s to become what you see today, and there’s a lot to see!

The Guggenheim is all about architecture and modern and radical art. It starts with the upside-down spiral shape of the building and continues with the journey inside the museum. The way up the spiral ramp, the open hall, and the interesting pieces are all part of the experience.

How To Get Here?

Address: 1071 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10128
Bus: M1, M2, M3, and M4 stop on Madison ave. and 89th st. – 1 block from the entrance.
Subway: Green lines 4,5,6 to 86th street and 8 minutes walk.

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Guggenheim Museum

Museum of Modern Art – MoMa

Located in Midtown Manhattan, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) is probably the easiest to find and get to.

In my eyes, the MoMa represents what New York is all about, and it’s not just the locations in one of the busiest areas of the city. The MoMa, as the name indicates, focuses on whatever is modern, new, breaking boundaries, being creative and innovative. This is what New York is all about!

With almost 200,000 paintings, sculptures, photographs, and other pieces, this is one of the most influential modern art museums in the world. From Monet and van Gogh to Andy Warhol, the MoMa is all about creativity, openness, tolerance, and thought-provoking art. No doubt it is one of the best museums to visit in New York.

Tip: The MoMa offers free passes to kids under 16, US military, select schools, select government agencies, and more. Check here to check if you are eligible for a discounted pass or free entrance.

How To Get Here?

Address: 11 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019
Walking distance (up to 15 minutes) from Times Square, Rockefeller Center, Central Park South, Grand Central, and Bryant Park.
Subway: E line (Blue) and M line (orange) to 5 Avenue-53 St Station. B, D, F to 47-50 Sts-Rockefeller Ctr

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Museum of Modern Art

Whitney Museum of American Art

The Whitney Museum is one of the symbols of modern New York art and local artists. Established in 1930 by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, an American sculptor and art collector, the museum has grown throughout the years, moving from one building to another. The last location in the Upper East Side closed in 2014, and in 2015 it opened in its current location in the Meatpacking district.

The permanent exhibit focuses on modern art – from the second half of the 19th century to these days. The collection is made of over 25,000 artifacts from paintings and sculptures to films and New media. The Whitney is known to present works of younger artists, as well as an interesting variety of temporary exhibitions. This, plus being recommended by NYC Locals, is what makes it worth revisiting every time in New York.

How To Get Here?

Address: 99 Gansevoort St, New York, NY 10014
Subway: Blue lines A, C, E, and gray line L to 14 St / 8 AV station and 8 minutes walk.

The Whitney museum is of the cool museums in nyc
The Whitney – Best new York city museums

Brooklyn Museum

The Brooklyn Museum was planned to be the biggest museum in the world when it was established in 1895. However, nowadays, it is “only” the third biggest in size in New York City, holding roughly 1.5 million artworks.

The collection of the museum contains ancient artifacts from all around the world, with a strong representation of American art and Egyptian antiquities, some date back to 3000 years ago. Even though the permanent exhibitions focus on classic art, the temporary exhibitions bring younger artists with new works and perspectives of contemporary art.

The Brooklyn Museum is located in the North-Eastern corner of Prospect Park and is easy to reach from Manhattan. A subway ride takes about 30 minutes from Times Square.

Tip: Visiting the Brooklyn Museum is one of the best things to do in Brooklyn. Plan your day to visit also the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens right behind the museum and to stroll in Prospect Park.

How To Get Here?

Address: 200 Eastern Pkwy, Brooklyn, NY 11238
Subway: Red lines 2,3 and green line 4 to Eastern Parkway Brooklyn Museum Station

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The Brooklyn Museum is one of new York city best museums

Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust

The Museum of Jewish Heritage is one of the most interesting and important museums in New York. It tells the story of the Holocaust from an interesting perspective, using modern tools and technologies. Located in Battery Park, in south Manhattan, the museum opened to the public in 1997. The goal was to educate people on Jewish life in the 20th and 21st centuries – before, during, and after the Holocaust.

While the permanent collection is about Jewish culture and Judaica, the main attraction of the museum today is the exhibition “Auschwitz. Not long ago. Not far away.” A powerful journey to the most significant site of the Holocaust, from establishment to liberation. The exhibition contains more than 700 real objects and 400 photographs, including prisoners’ uniforms, personal items like shoes, glasses, and suitcases, and even an original freight train car.

The exhibition is very emotional and groundbreaking. The Holocaust is not an easy topic to deal with, and the museum does that with lots of respect and interest.

Tip: The Museum is closed on Jewish holidays and Thanksgiving. Plan your visit accordingly.

How To Get Here?

Address: 36 Battery Pl, New York, NY 10280
Subway: Green lines 4,5 lines to Bowling Green and red line 1 to Rector Street station.

Museum of Jewish Heritage

9/11 Memorial & Museum

One of the most traumatic events that happened in the US and New York City especially is the 9/11 terror attack. Not only the hole it created in the American Nation’s heart, but it also resulted in major changes in the appearance of downtown Manhattan. Where the Twin Towers once stood, is now an open memorial with two one-acre square pools, each with 50 feet of manmade waterfalls descending in.

Next to the memorial stands the 9/11 museum, telling the story of this terror attack and another attack from 1993. It presents over 70000 artifacts from victims, survivors, and responders, which altogether make the visit a powerful emotional experience.

While the pools are accessible to the public at no cost, you will need to buy a ticket to enter the museum.

Tip: When visiting this area of Manhattan, don’t miss the Oculus – the underground shopping mall and transportation hub, located under the crossed white steel columns, and the observation deck on top of the Freedom Tower.

How To Get Here?

Address: 180 Greenwich St, New York, NY 10007
Subway: Red lines 2,3 lines to Park Place or blue line E to World Trade Center and 5 minutes walk. Yellow lines R, W to Cortlandt St.

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The 9/11 museum is one of the most important New York’s museums

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of the American Indian in downtown Manhattan is a smaller branch of the museum with the same name from Washington DC. It is located in the impressive Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, but the museum hall is not as big as it might look from the outside.

Even though it is a small museum, it’s one of the interesting and important museums to visit in New York City. It present art and artifacts of and about the Native population of America, from north to south. The exhibition also combines wall-size maps, videos, and music, which makes the visit not just educational, but also fun.

Tip: The entrance is free and the museum is open daily. Exploring the museum can be relatively short, so you can easily combine it when visiting other places in the area of Wall Street/ Battery Park/ World Trade Center.

How To Get Here?

Address: 1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004
Subway: Green lines 4,5 to Bowling Green, Red lines 1 to Rector Street or South Ferry or 2,3 to Wall Street, Yellow lines R, W to Whitehall Street.

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National Museum of the American Indian

Tenement Museum

Visiting the Tenement Museum is a great opportunity to learn about the old life of immigrants in New York City in the late 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. The museum today spans over two buildings in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, which were the residence place of over 15,000 people from 20 nations throughout the years.

The building at 97 Orchard Street was built in 1863 with 22 apartments. With time, and as the city created new laws for housing, the internal layout has changed several times, until 1935, when most of the residents were evacuated and the upper floors remained sealed. This allows the visitors today to see a real example of how the life and housing used to look like a 100 years ago in this area of New York.

Tip: The museum also offers Neighborhood Walking Tours to explore the other buildings and life in the area of the Lower East Side. It’s a different type of museum experience and it’s also perfect for Covid days.

How To Get Here?

Address: 103 Orchard Street, New York, NY 10002
Subway: Orange lines F, M to Delancey St · Essex St, or B, D to Grand St.

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The Tenement Museum – Best NYC museums

General Tips

Some of the museums offer free entry on specific days and hours. It’s great if you want to save on the entrance fee, but it’s important to know that in these times the museums might be more crowded and there probably going to be a long line to get it. Check the museums’ websites for more specific information on the exact times.

If you are planning to visit many of the sites and attractions of New York, you should consider getting the New York Pass. It allows cash-free entry to 100+ iconic attractions, including most of the museums on this list, for up to 10 days. In some places, it gives skip-the-line privileges, and it’s easy to use from your mobile device.

Final Thoughts

The Museums of New York City give their visitors a fabulous and diversified experience. The places I put to this list combine both the big and famous, and some other smaller museums, and it covers art, architecture, culture, and history. Anyone who visits New York can find their area of interest and enjoy an educational and fascinating time in one of the city’s best museums.

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Photo credit: National History Museum – Aditya Vyas, Guggenheim Museum –  Tomas Eidsvold, MoMa – Jamison McAndie, Whitney Museum – by MusikAnimal, under CC BY-SA 4.0 Museum of Jewish Heritage – by  b16aug under CC BY-NC 2.0, National Museum of the American Indian – by Dmadeo under CC BY-SA 3.0, Tenement Museum – Reading Tom under CC BY 2.0

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