The Best Museums In NYC

There are many incredible museums in NYC, for just about any interest. Whether you are into art, culture and traditions, history and technology, you are bound find something to keep you entertained on a rainy day – in fact, on any day!

There are so many museums in NYC that there even is a “Museum Mile” – that is the portion of 5th Avenue that goes from 82nd to 105th that is packed with museums. I will be mentioning some in this post.

In this post, I round up my favorite museums in New York, and share some useful practical information on each of them. Continue reading to pick which one to visit next!

4 days in New York
The Guggenheim is one of the funkiest buildings in New York

20 Must Visit Museums In NYC

El Museo del Barrio

One of the many museums located on Museum Mile, El Museo del Barrio was founded in the late 1960s with the intention of filling the gap in the representation and celebration Puerto Rican art in other museums in the city. It was started by Raphael Montañez Ortiz . The collection includes more than 6500 objects, with paintings, sculptures as well as Taino artifacts.

El Museo del Barrio is located on 1230 Fifth Avenue, and it opens on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $9 and it is timed.

Museum of the City of New York

Believe it or not, this is one of the lesser visited museums in NYC. It’s located in a beautiful colonial-style building that was actually built intentionally to house the museum in 1932, and houses a massive collection of photos, paintings, documents and more that will walk you through the history of the city.

The Museum of the City of New York is located on 1220 Fifth Avenue at 103rd Street. The museum is open Friday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is $20 and it is timed. You can get tickets here.

The Jewish Museum

The largest Jewish museum Israel, this museum has a massive collection of pieces that will walk you through Jewish ceremonial art, sculptures, archeological artifacts, and paintings. You will be able to admire works of artists such as Marc Chagall, Man Ray, and Eva Hesse. Adjoint you will find the Jewish deli Russ & Daughters.

The Jewish Museum is located on 1109 5th Avenue at 92nd Street. It is open Thursday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Admission is $18.

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

Another New York museum worth visiting for the collection as much as the building, the Smithsonian Design Museum is housed in a stunning 1902 Georgian Mansion and houses a collection of more than 200000 pieces that go from pottery to musical instruments to metalwork and furniture. It’s significantly lesser visited than the nearby Met and Guggenheim, so a good place to escape the crowds.

The Smithsonian Design Museum is located on 2 East 91st Street (between 5th and Madison Avenues). The museum is currently closed.

The Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum is worth visiting for the collection as well as for the actual building, which was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, and is a real work of art, both on the outside and on the inside. Opened in 1959, the Guggenheim hosts exhibits that change on a regular basis, so check the museum site to see what’s on.

You will find the Guggenheim at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. The Museum is open from Thursday to Monday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm. Admission is $25 and tickets can be bought online here or here.

museums in NYC
The MET is a must see

Neue Galerie

I bumped into this museum once by complete change only to discover it houses pieces by one of my favorite artists in the world – Austrian painter Gustav Klimt. The rest of the collection focuses on Austrian and German art of the 20th century.

The Neue Galerie is located on 1048 5th Avenue. Admission is $25. Unfortunately, at the time of writing the museum is closed.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Easily the most famous museum in New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (Met) is one of the finest art galleries in the world. The collection is massive and you will be able to see pieces that come from ancient Egypt as well as others from a more contemporary time. The museum is so vast (there are 19 curatorial departments that host various collections) that you should factor one entire day to explore it.

MET is located on 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd St. It is currently open from Thursday to Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $25 and you can leave and come back on the same day if you fancy a break during your visit. You need to get tickets in advance – click here or here. For a guided tour after dark, click here.

PRO-TIP: If you have extra time, visit The Cloisters too. Located in Fort Tryon Park, in Northern Manhattan, the entire museum is the only one in the country entirely dedicated to the art and architecture of the Middle Ages. As the name recalls, the building is made up of five medieval-inspired cloisters.

MOMA
Inside MoMa – photo by Alex Palmer on Unsplash

The Frick Collection

Definitely one of the best museums in town, the Frick Collection is located in the former mansion of industrialist Henry Clay Frick, in the Upper East Side. It is a historic mansion with fabulous furnishing and an even prettier courtyard.

The Frick Collection is located on 1 East 70th Street, just off Fifth Avenue. It is open Thursday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets are $22.

MoMa (The Museum of Modern Art)

Easily one of my favorite museums in NYC, MoMa is home to some of the most iconic, famous pieces of modern art. If you visit you will have a chance to see Vincent Van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Warhol Campbell’s Soup, as well as works by Matisse, Gauguin, Picasso, Dali and Pollock, MoMa.

MOMA is located on 11 West 53rd St. It open every day from 10.30 am to 5:30 pm. Tickets are $25 and can be bought in advance here.

PRO-TIP: Make sure to also check out MOMA PS1, located in Long Island City, Queens. The building – a gorgeous Renaissance Revival former public school – is as good as the collection, which includes pieces of James Turrell and Ai Weiwei.

Morgan Library and Museum
The gorgeous interior of Morgan Library and Museum

Morgan Library and Museum

The Pierpont Morgan private library was built in 1906 and houses an impressive collection of antique books – some dating back to 4000 B.C.! – in a gorgeous setting. The collection also includes one of the 23 copies of the Declaration of Independence, as well as Mozart’s handwritten score of the Haffner Symphon and Charles Dickens’s manuscript of A Christmas Carol. Not exactly your everyday collection! There even are regular exhibits focussing on contemporary and past artists.

Morgan Library and Museum is located on 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street. It is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10:30 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $22 and best bought in advance on the museum site.

The Museum of Sex

One of the most fun museums in NYC, with a permanent exhibit of erotic and sex toys. The museum shop is also fun to visit!

The Museum of Sex is located on 233 Fifth Avenue at 27th Street. It opens Mondays and Thursdays from 1:00 to 10:00 pm, Wednesdays from 1:00 to 9:00 pm, Fridays from 1:00 to 11:00 pm, Saturdays from 12:00 to 11:00 pm and Sundays from 12:00 to 10:00 pm. Admission is $36.

Best museums in NYC
Photo by Aditya Vyas on Unsplash

American Museum of Natural History

If you are bringing your kids, this is one of the best museums in NYC – they will surely go find their spot after having seen A Night At The Museum! There is a great exhibit of animals such as the Alaskan brown bear, the blue whale, mammoths and tyrannosaurus rex. 

The American Museum of Natural History is located on Central Park West at 79th Street. It is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. The entry fee to the main exhibit is $23 for adults and $13 for senior and children. You can get tickets here. For a guided tour, click here. For a kids’ friendly tour, click here.

Ground Zero Museum

Another museum located in the Meatpacking District, Ground Zero Museum Workshop has an an interesting exhibit of photographs, audio and artifacts that will help you to learn more about the lives of those who helped in the rescue works in the aftermath of 9/11 attacks. 

Ground Zero Museum Workshop is located on 420 West14th Street, and is open Wednesday to Sunday from 11:00 or 11:30 am to 3:00 pm. Admission is $25 USD.

Whitney Museum of American Art

Located in the Meatpacking District, where it was relocated in 2015 after having being in the Upper East Side, the Whitney Museum of American Art houses an incredible collection of works by American artists such as Georgia O’Keefe, Richard Avedon, Alexander Caldher and Edward Hopper. The museum is set on various floors which are connected by state-of-the-art (quite literally) elevators. The exterior staircases take you to the terrace where you can admire yet more art – and the views of downtown.

Whitney Museum of American Art is located on 99 Gansevoort St. It is open Thursday to Monday from 10:30 am (11:30 am on Saturdays and Sundays). Admission is $25 USD and tickets must be bought in advance here.

Rubin Museum of Art

Located lovely Chelsea, the Rubin Museum is a great place to visit if you are interested in Indian and Nepalese Himalayan art. The collection includes more than 38000 pieces spanning across 1500 years, with sculptures, paintings and installations that will walk you through the unique culture and traditions.

Rubin Museum of Art is located on 150 West 17th Street. The museum is open Thursday to Sunday from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission is $19. You can get tickets here.

9/11 Museum tickets
The 9/11 Museum and Memorial is a touching, yet incredibly interesting place to visit

National 9/11 Memorial and Museum

One of the most touching museums in New York, together with the 9/11 Memorial the Museum will walk you through the history of the terrorist attacks of 1993 and 2001.

The museum is located on 180 Greenwich St and opens Thursday to Monday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tickets are $26 USD.

Check out my post How To Get 9/11 Museum Tickets And Skip The Lines.

National Museum of the American Indian

One of the best museums in New York for anyone interested in indigenous cultures, this museum’s collection includes traditional ritual and everyday objects as well as documents and photography and is entirely dedicated to the history and culture of the more than 1200 indigenous groups of the Americas.

The museum is located on 1 Bowling Green. It is temporarily closed.

Tenement Museum

This very interesting museum in Manhattan Lower East Side will take you through the history and daily lives of New York’s working class – typically immigrants – that in the late 19th and early 20th century contributed to the economic boom of the city.

Tenement Museum is located at 103 Orchard Street. It is temporarily closed.

brooklyn heights view

The Brooklyn Museum

The third largest museum in New York, it’s once again the kind of place you should visit for the collection as much as for the building – Beaux-Arts building from 1897 located on the edge of Prospect Park. The massive collection includes pieces of art and archeology.

The Brooklyn Museum is located on 200 Eastern Pkwy. The museum is open Sunday to Thursday from 11:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:00 am to 8:00 pm. Admission is timed and tickets cost $16.

Staten Island Ferry

The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Museum

To be fair, this museum isn’t located in New York – in fact, the Statue of Liberty is in New Jersey state territory. But since most people visiting New York would go, I thought I may as well include it. The Statue was a gift from France to celebrate the US first 100 years of independence. Ellis Island Museum will walk you through the history of the various waves of immigrations to the US.

Liberty Island, where the Statue of Liberty is located, and Ellis Island are open every day except on Thanksgiving (the fourth Thursday in November) and Christmas day. The first ferry to the Statue of Liberty departs from Battery Park at 8:30 am. The last one leaves at 3:30 pm in low season and at 4:00 pm in high season. Tickets which include access to the Crown costs $22.25. You can get your tickets for Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island here.

Make sure to read my post A Guide To Visiting The Statue Of Liberty.

Further Readings

Traveling to New York? Make sure to read my other posts:

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