Covering the best museums in New York City is a pretty broad topic, because this global city is full of museums and galleries to cater for every taste and interest. From modern art, to natural history; human tragedy to cultural collections – New York has it all. That’s why I have assembled a killer line up of travel bloggers from all over the world to share their pick of the best museums in New York City.
Being comprised of 27.5% Hispanic/Latinx people, you can expect huge diversity and quantity of Latin American art in New York City. At the simply monikered El Museo, you find a broad cross section of art of all styles. The consistent aspect is that every artist is Latinx and every work deals with the cultures, lives, and struggles of Latinx peoples. Any art appreciator will find something in the seasonal gallery or permanent collection that piques their interest and offers a perspective into Latinx culture.
The museum is situated near the north end of Central Park, one block from the Museum of the City of New York. One admission is good for a visit to El Museo and the City Museum. Tickets are $9 for adults and $5 for students and seniors. El Museo hosts many cultural (and often bilingual) events throughout the year and has a lot of events for kids during the summer.
Contributed by Art from The Broke Backpacker
Natural History Museum
Home to everything from dinosaur fossils to taxidermied animals from scientific times past (including specimens donated by Teddy Roosevelt) to a planetarium, there’s nowhere on this planet quite like the American Museum of Natural History.
Known more colloquially as the Natural History Museum, the American Museum of Natural History is located right across from Central Park in the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
Come here to learn something new about our natural world, whether your interests draw you toward human culture, fascinating wildlife, the depths of the ocean, or the far reaches of outer space.
It is truly impossible to absorb all the American Museum of Natural History has to offer on a first visit, so if you’re visiting as part of your New York City travel itinerary, we recommend picking 3-4 rooms or exhibitions to focus on, and then continuing with your adventures in the museum once you’ve knocked you biggest priorities off the list.
The museum is open daily from 10:00 AM to 5:45 PM, closing only two days out of the year Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). Admission is $23 USD for adults, with a discount available for students and seniors.
Contributed by Kate from Our Escape Clause
The Frick Collection is a wonderful museum right smack in the middle of Museum Mile on New York City’s Fifth Avenue at 70th Street, fronting Central Park. I love this elegant museum because it houses a brilliant collection of masterpieces by the likes of Vermeer, Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Goya among others. My absolute favorite work of art in the whole wide world is Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein which hangs in one of the main rooms. The museum also displays period furniture, ceramics and other works of art.
The museum is the former residence of industrialist Henry Clay Frick. He and his family lived in this, what is essentially a palace, before it was turned into a museum. That always blows me away; to imagine a small group of people inhabiting the opulent rooms, gardens, rooftops of this mansion with Central Park as the front lawn!
Insider tip: Get the museum app to guide you on your visit.
Super insider tip: It’s pay what you want on Wednesdays between 2 and 6 p.m. The first Friday of the month between 6 and 9 p.m. is completely free when they have special treats like chamber music at the interior fountain.
Contributed by Talek from Travels With Talek
My favorite museum in New York City is the Metropolitan Museum of Art (or The Met for short). I live in New York and go the Met at least twice a year. The annual fashion show is popular, but there are plenty of other special exhibitions throughout the year and, of course, their permanent collection is exceptional. Many people only go for the twentieth century European art (which is an absolute must-see), but there are so many cool things to experience such as the annual site-specific installation on the roof terrace every summer (there are also sensational views of Central Park and Midtown Manhattan and a café; go early to avoid lines); the complete Egyptian Temple of Dendur; a Chinese garden courtyard; the facade of a former bank; a Spanish courtyard; an enormous Medieval screen; and more.
There are actually three different locations including their main building on Fifth Avenue, the Breuer building (former home of the Whitney Museum) and the Cloisters, which is a collection of actual cloisters moved from European monasteries as well the Met’s medieval collection. Admission covers all three locations and is $25 (optional for residents of New York State).
Contributed by James from Travel Collecting
The Guggenheim, or to give it Its full name, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York became a nightmare for me as a student of Architecture. Why? Because one day we were asked to choose our favorite building and so I chose The Guggenheim. Then we were told to make a model of it. I had landed myself with the task of constructing curved walls on a spiral ramp. I was twenty and impatient – bad choice!
Anyway, to cut the story short, I made the model at last, so when I visited New York I knew that seeing it for real was a must.
I must say when I went there, I was more interested in seeing Frank Lloyd Wright’s building than the exhibition. I had to come a second time to admire the art. I heard the complaints that the curved walls and sloping floor made a problem for hanging pictures, but for me the innovative concept of the spiral design overrode all objections.
The Guggenheim Museum stands on 5th Avenue – facing Central Park and is open daily from 10am to 5:30pm (Saturdays till 8pm). Entry cost Adults $25, Students $18, Children under 12 Free
Contributed by Ania from The Travelling Twins
Chelsea Gallery District
There is no place more exciting for art than Chelsea NYC. This is the hottest gallery district in New York, and there are hundreds of commercial galleries here, with the top dealers selling work that runs into the millions of dollars. Since there are so many galleries here, it’s the perfect place for a crash course in the contemporary global art scene.
Chelsea is located on the West Side of Manhattan, and sits between the Meatpacking District in the south, 34th Street in the north, and 6th Avenue to the east. It’s a walkable area and the bulk of the galleries are to be found in the former warehouse area of West Chelsea. A few galleries to check out are big names such as David Zwirner, Gagosian Gallery and Hauser & Wirth. If you like abstract art, Berry Campbell is known for showcasing modernist artists, while the Paula Cooper Cooper Gallery was one of the first to move to the area.
It’s easy to combine a gallery hopping trip to Chelsea with other attractions in the area such as the High Line, Chelsea Market and Hudson Yards.
Contributed by Carol from Wandering Carol
The Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of New York City is unlike any other museum you’ll visit. The goal of the Tenement Museum is to share the stories of the immigrants who lived and worked in the tenement apartments of the Lower East Side.
The Museum is located on Orchard Street in what was formerly dilapidated tenement buildings that had been unoccupied for more than 50 years. When going through the buildings, museum staff found the personal belongings and artifacts of the families who had called the buildings home between 1860 and the 1930s. These found treasures now form the backbone of the Museum, displayed in historically restored tenement apartments that show what life was like for the immigrants who lived there.
The Tenement Museum offers tenement apartment tours and neighbourhood walking tours (perfect for using a wheeled backpack) as well as talks, enriched experiences and curated exhibits. The tours are absolutely fascinating. You’ll hear stories of the real families who lived and worked in the neighbourhood and how they lived their lives. Historic photos, personal items and costumed interpreters add layers to the richness of the experience. There are 7 tenement apartments to explore as well as a lager beer saloon.
The Tenement Museum is a very popular attraction for visitors and locals alike and tours often sell out. Tenement tour tickets range from $27 to $29 for adults, $22-$24 for students and seniors and each tour is limited to 15 visitors per time slot. Visitors with mobility issues should check the Tenement Museum website for more information, as all tours may not be accessible.
Contributed by Lesley from Freedom 56 Travel
While there are so many iconic and famous museums in New York City – like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum – the New Museum could be easily overlooked.
It’s called “New” museum because it was established merely for about 40 years. Located in the Soho district in Manhattan, the museum is one of the few art museums in the world devoted to presenting contemporary artworks created by up-and-coming international contemporary artists. The museum does not have a permanent art collection, it rather hosts themed exhibitions and offers young talents a platform to share their views with art lovers all over the world.
Admission is US$18, and visitors could enjoy free entry with a New York City Pass. Don’t forget to visit the Sky Room – it opens to the public on the weekends (except it was booked for a private event), and its terrace offers a great view of the Soho district all the way to the concrete jungle in Lower Manhattan.
Contributed by Kenny from Knycx Journeying
9/11 Memorial and Museum
A visit to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum should be a part of any New York itinerary. Its a somber, but important experience. Most people entering the museum will remember the terrorist attacks that took place in the U.S. in 2001, but walking through the space that was actually bombed while viewing the pictures of hundreds who died, reminds us how horrific this event actually was.
In addition to reminding us of the terrible destruction, the museum does an excellent job of reminding us of the heroism. First and foremost were the official first responders; police, firefighters and paramedics. But many other people pitched in to search for survivors in the rubble of the bombed-out buildings, sometimes with their own lives at risk.
Outside the museum is the 9/11 Memorial–two reflecting pools that sit where the twin towers of the World Trade Center were located. The names of every person that died in the attacks is inscribed in bronze panels surrounding the pools. This peaceful place gives friends, families and visitors the opportunity to remember the lives lost.
The 9/11 Memorial is free to visit. Museum admission is $26 with discounts available for youth, seniors, college students and veterans.
Contributed by Wendy from Empty Nesters Hit The Road
Compiling a list of the best museums in New York City honestly feels like it could be endless. There’s just that much in the city to see. Hopefully this post has inspired you to take a break from Broadway or Central Park to spend some time exploring the magnificent museums and galleries of the city. Thanks to all the bloggers who shared their favourite museums – I’ll definitely be adding some more of these to my next NYC itinerary.
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